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Internet marketing on Shabbos


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Kislev 7, 5777
I have the following situation I have an internet marketing business where i place ads on Google, Facebook and Yahoo for my clients who then pay me if i find a potential customer for them. They will pay me commission for each person who fills out a form on their website. For example, i place an ad on Google to show whenever someone searches for New York dentist. After a person clicks on the ad they go to my clients website and fill out a form with their name and phone number. At this point i earn a commission from my client. The work of setting up ads is done by me during the week and not on Shabbos. My clients pay me weekly or monthly. Google etc accumulates charges for each click and charges my credit card whenever i reach a certain threshold ($500). Showing ads and forwarding to my client’s website is done automatically by Google/Internet. There is no work that i need to do on Shabbos to keep ads running. I also do not charge anyone’s credit card but i do earn commission from each filled out form on my client’s website. My clients do not know that I’m Jewish since communications happen over the Internet and not in person. Do i have to pause ads on Shabbos or is it ok to keep them running? I also noticed that you have a lot of Google ads on your website. Do you let them run on Shabbos? Thank you, Arkadiy
ב"ה Shalom I believe some of the major issue you raised, I already answered in a previous answer regarding advertising on ebay on Shabbat. See or look for "Ebay on Shabbos", on Google. It is also discussed at length in Mareh Habazak Vol. V, 37-40. If I understand correctly, your major concern is in regard to receiving payment for transactions done on Shabbat. As I wrote in regard to ebay, in regard to the issue of "schar Shabbat" making money on Shabbat, according to Rav Eliezer Ben Porat(שו"ת נועם אליעזר סי' ג) it doesn't apply. Since what chazal forbade was being paid for actual work on Shabbat. On ebay the person is paying for a product not for work done, since you are not actually selling on Shabbat. He also points out that the actual transferring of funds doesn’t take place over Shabbat since banks are closed and in most countries only open on Monday. In Mareh Habazak Vol. V, 40, the issue of earning money from individual entrances to the website or adds or collecting commissions for transactions done on Shabbat is specifically addressed and their opinion is that without partnership with a non- Jew it should not be allowed unless there would be a situation of dire need and great monetary loss. For in such cases, one would rely upon the opinion that payment which is done in "Kablanut", literally contractually, meaning that the payment is for the job being done and not per day, it is not considered being paid for work on Shabbat. If the fee collected is not for each specific entrance, but an annual or monthly and most users are gentiles then there is no concern in regard to Shabbat, even though you are being paid for what is done on Shabbat as well since the payment for Shabbat is "swallowed" by the payment for the rest of the week. In the book, Pninei Halacha, written by the Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, who is the son of Rav Melamed Shlit"a, the founder of this site, he writes, that we don't have view the payment as being for work done on Shabbat, but as for the work that was done before Shabbat. In his opinion this would be just like we allow payment for using the mikvah on Shabbat, or renting a room for Shabbat, in which view the payment as something for the cleaning of the room or the warming of the water which takes place before Shabbat, which is what is actually happening in your case, since your work is done before Shabbat. It should be pointed there are those who take the more stringent opinion of not allowing all this to take place on Shabbat, as pointed out in the book , Kedushat Hashabbat Vol. II, from pg. 15 and onward. All the best
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