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What are the laws of Shabbat?

Although many acts are forbidden for a Jew to engage in on Shabbat, in certain extenuating circumstances, one may ask a non-Jew to perform the forbidden act/s.

The general principle is that anything forbidden for a Jew to do on Shabbat, he is forbidden to benefit from a non-Jew doing it on his behalf. It makes no difference whether the Jew asked the non-Jew to perform the act on his behalf or not, if the non-Jew was asked before Shabbat to perform the act, if the non-Jew is getting paid for the act or not, and if the non-Jew works for the Jew during the week too. In many cases, if the act was already done, the Jew may not benefit from it until after Shabbat and the time taken to perform the act has passed.

PLEASE NOTE: If there is any danger to human life- in any form- one should desecrate the Shabbat to perform any melachah necessary to save the person’s life. Download our FREE e-book to read more about how to prevent and treat medical emergencies that can occur on Shabbat here.

Listed below are the exceptions to this general rule:

If the non-Jew is performing the act for himself and by his own choice:

If a non-Jew is performing an act that is forbidden for a Jew to perform on Shabbat, and he has not added to his work at all to benefit the Jew, then the Jew may enjoy the act that the non-Jew performed. For example, if a non-Jew mashes potatoes for himself (even in a kosher kitchen), a Jew may not eat some of the mashed potatoes, lest the non-Jew will add more potatoes for him. However, if a non-Jew switches on a light in a room for his own benefit, the Jew may enjoy the light since no extra effort that is muktzah can be made to benefit the Jew.

If the non-Jew is being paid by the job:

This is only allowed if the non-Jew was not told directly to do the job on Shabbat (he could choose to do it before, after or during Shabbat), and the job is not done on the Jew’s premises (because other people may not know that the non-Jew is being paid for the job, and may assume that the Jew is transgressing a Torah commandment). Examples of this would be giving in a laptop to be fixed or shoes to be repaired. If the job is being done on the Jew’s premises, such as the windows being cleaned or the pipes being replaced, it would be forbidden on Shabbat.

If a Jew is sick or at risk of becoming sick:

One may ask a non-Jew to perform any act that can benefit a Jew who is unwell to the point of having to lie in bed (even if the illness is not life-threatening). This includes the cold- if the heating is switched off and the house is cold, one may ask a non-Jew to switch the heating back on since cold can lead to sickness. Additionally, children and the elderly are considered sick because of their fragile health, and so a non-Jew may perform any act that will prevent them from losing their health in any way. An example of this would be boiling hot water for a baby who needs a bottle.

An act that is forbidden by Rabbinic law, in case of great need:

A melachah that is forbidden by Rabbinic law may be performed by a non-Jew for the following reasons: to prevent a large financial loss, for a minor sickness, for a mitzvah, or any other significant need, where the non-Jew will be performing an act forbidden by Rabbinic law.

Crucial Shabbat Safety Tips

Can I keep my business open on Shabbat?

Having non-Jews work for you on Shabbat, even when they work for you during the week, is forbidden. Hence, one may not have their business open on Shabbat, even if they themselves are not doing anything actively muktzah

However, following the guidelines outlined above, if the non-Jew is being paid by the job and was not told explicitly to do the job on Shabbat (he can choose to do the work before, after, or during Shabbat), and the work is being done in the non-Jew’s own premises, the Jew is not required to stop the non-Jew from working on Shabbat.

Shabbat safety tips for the whole family

We treat emergencies big and small. You can also call us for non-emergency home-visits, such as for pre- or post-surgery, postpartum, terminal illness, blood pressure monitoring, pain management etc. to ensure your concerns are handled with discretion, and without delay.
Our state-of-the-art Type II ambulance is equipped with all basic life support (BLS) equipment, including the more specialized hydraulic (electric) stretcher. Between 2-4 EMTs accompany each patient transport.
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Crucial Shabbat Safety Tips

Learn everything you and your family need to know to stay safe on Shabbat.