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A Non Jew on Shabbat


Rabbi Jonathan Blass

9 Iyyar 5763
Dear Rabbi, it states in the Shulchan Aruch, chapter 18, that a Jew must not ask a non-Jew to do work for him on Shabbat. However, a Jew is allowed to hire a non-Jew to do work or business for him as long as he does not specify that it be done on Shabbas and does not benefit from it being done then. How then can an Orthodox Shul or Orthodox household employ a Shabbas goy? It seems to me to be forbidden. Could you explain with citations in English? Thank you, Sam Steinberg.
It is forbidden for a Jew to tell a non-Jew to do work for him on Shabbat. It is also forbidden for him to benefit from the work done for him on Shabbat by a non-Jew even if he did not explicitly instruct him to do the work. That said, there are circumstances when a Jew is allowed to benefit from work done by a non-Jew on Shabbat. For example, in some instances where the work is done to assist a sick person, or when the task could have been performed without Shabbat violation. There is no blanket permission to use a “Shabbas Goy”. There are detailed halachic guidelines that must be learned and followed (see Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata ch. 30 at length).
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