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Weekly Shabbos Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

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Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita


These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita



Questions for the Week of Terumah


In the previous shiur we dealt with the issue of under what circumstances may I ask a gentile to perform a melacha for an ill person and we laid down several foundations.

Can you present a few examples of the above halacha?

A gentile [1] may cook a hot meal for an ill person if there is no other hot food available and it is necessary for the ill persons recuperation. Obviously this is not a blank heter to have a gentile bake and cook at whim for the ill person, rather only when necessary, such as for a woman after birth (within 30 days of the birth) who needs hot food etc.

  • A gentile may turn on the lights in order to treat an ill person and turn off the lights to enable the ill person to sleep.
  • A gentile may write a prescription if needed on Shabbos.
  • A gentile may turn on the heating system for an ill person and in the summer, when the heat is disturbing the ill person, a gentile may turn on the air-conditioning.

Rav Sternbuch shlita added that if one knows before Shabbos that certain things will be needed, one should instruct a gentile to prepare them before Shabbos. 

How ill must a person be to permit " telling a gentile to violate the Shabbos?

We previously defined the severity of a persons illness that would permit ". A person who is less ill then that, which is defined as a slight illness, or one has a discomforting pain that does not paralyze ones body nor does it cause one to be bedridden, is not considered a and a gentile may not be told to violate the Shabbos with an issur doraisso.

However, one may request a gentile to violate an issur drabanan for the sake of such a person. [2]

What is the source to permit this?

The Rambam writes (6:9-10) that one may ask a gentile to violate the Shabbos with a shvus (an issur drabanan) [3] when a slight illness is involved.

What is the Rambams source?

The gemora Eiruvin 67b says that a gentile may bring water via a rabbinical domain on Shabbos for the sake of a bris. The Maggid Mishne explains that the water was merely used to relieve the babys pain and nevertheless it is permitted. Other Rishonim however learn that it is a local heter for a bris, because the actual bris can be done on Shabbos and therefore other violations were permitted by Chazal relating to the bris, but in other instances Chazal never permitted anything. The Maggid Mishne concludes that the halacha is in accordance with the Rambam, and as mentioned, that is the psak of the Shulchan Aruch.

The problem is that one must be well versed in the intricacies of Hilchos Shabbos in order to know whether an action is an issur doraisso or a drabanan, and therefore when a doubt arises a Rav must be asked.

May a gentile be requested to violate a rabbinical violation even for the sake of a slight ache or pain?

To summarize - we learned that one may request a gentile to violate the Shabbos and perform melachos doraisso for the health and medical needs of a , [4] and the gentile may violate rabbinical prohibitions for the sake of a slightly ill person.

However, a person who is suffering from a slight ache or minor pain is not considered as being ill and a gentile may not be requested to violate any prohibitions in such instances. [5] Chazal did not permit the violation of any issurim under such circumstances.

Is it possible to be a bit more specific?

It is difficult to draw the fine line between one who is slightly ill and one who has a minor ache or pain. It would be fairly safe to say though, that a light headache or a very mild sore throat does not permit having a gentile violate anything at all. In such cases there is another issue that involves the administration of medication. Even if one is permitted to request a gentile to violate an issur drabanan, it must be understood how one is to administer the medication being that only one who is defined as a (bedridden or sick) may take medication. Bezras Hashem, when we learn about medication on Shabbos we will deal with this question.

When may I request that a gentile violate the Shabbos for the sake of a mitzvah?

The question should be is it permitted to request a gentile to violate an issur for the sake of a mitzvah? The answer is not so simple.

We find a big machlokes between the Rishonim on the following issue: we know that there is a mitzvah to perform a Bris Milah on an 8-day-old baby even on Shabbos. What happens if the mohel realizes before the Bris that he forgot the knife at home? Is he permitted to request a gentile to perform a melacha doraisso and bring the knife to the babys house through a reshus harabim (a public domain)?

Most Rishonim [6] learn that although one may perform the actual Bris on Shabbos, one may not instruct a gentile to violate an issur doraisso for the sake of the Bris, only an issur drabanan.

Accordingly a gentile may not sharpen the knife but a gentile is permitted to fetch a knife and carry it through a carmelis (a rabbinic domain).

However the Baal Halachos Gedolos learns that one may request a gentile to violate even an issur doraisso for the sake of the Bris.

What is the halacha?

We will see next week bezras Hashem.

[1] See the SSK chapter 30:11.

[2] Siman 307:5.

[3] A rabbinical prohibition.

[4] See the previous sheet for the definition of a .

[5] Mechaber in siman 328:1 and MB 3.

[6] Namely the Rif (Shabbos 56a), the Rosh (perek 19:2, Rambam (Milah 2:9) cited in the Bais Yosef in siman 331.


Orchos Chaim LaRosh 

, , elaborate on your creators acts of chessed, the one who gives you your sustenance at the right time.

Hashem created us dependant; dependant on people, on nature on everything. Our real dependence is on Hashem, and He wants it that way. He wants us to know that everything comes from Him and He wants us to turn to Him and ask for everything we need want. And indeed we receive an unimaginable amount. However, we tend to minimize what we receive from Him and take everything totally for granted, and focus only on what we are asking for and not getting.

There are many reasons why He does not grant us everything we ask for as soon as we pray for it, which is reason to strengthen our commitments and increase our prayers to Him, and at the same time realize how much we really have. The more we realize how fortunate we are, the more we will appreciate His love for us and try increasing our devotion and tefillos.

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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.