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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 Vayeishev


In the previous shiur we learned that one may not say to a taxi driver please be prepared after Shabbos because one is hiring him for after Shabbos. However, one may say to him do you think that you can come after Shabbos or I would be happy to see you after Shabbos, because in both cases one is not hiring the taxi driver, rather one is hinting that one would like to hire him after Shabbos. [1] Talking about such affairs on Shabbos is prohibited.          

            I do not really see the difference between the two cases.

            It depends on whether one instructs or tells someone to do something, in this case hiring the person, or whether one hints at something and both people merely think about the issur without saying it. [2]

            Does that mean that I can hint to a gentile to do a melacha for me?

            No it does not, and since the halachos are very complicated we will attempt to simplify them. First we will discuss the issues of a gentile performing melachos after Shabbos and then we will concentrate on cases where the gentile performs melachos on Shabbos itself.

One may not instruct a gentile to perform an issur after Shabbos. [3] Therefore, one may not say

  • please turn off all the lights after Shabbos.
  • please start the car straight after Shabbos.
  • please start the dishwasher straight after Shabbos.

However, one is permitted to give an instruction to do something after Shabbos if there is a permitted way to do it, even though the person might do it in a prohibited manner. Therefore, one may say

  • please peel the onions after Shabbos for melaveh malkah. This is because one may peel onions on Shabbos close to a meal.
  • please wash the dishes after Shabbos for melaveh malkah, This is because one may wash dishes before another meal on Shabbos as well. Even though the gentile will use the dishwasher, since there is a permitted way to wash the dishes, it is not considered as if one is instructing the person to do an issur.
  • please tidy the house after Shabbos. This is because there are permitted ways to do this on Shabbos as well.
  • I left my tallis in shul, please fetch it for me. This is because the tallis can also be brought home in a permitted manner on Shabbos, either through wearing or carrying if there is an eiruv.

All of these cases are applicable to instructing a Jew as well

            Is one permitted, before Shabbos, to instruct a gentile to perform a melacha on Shabbos?

            Two issues are usually present when dealing with a gentile on Shabbos. One issue is the manner of speech, which involves the issur of . For example, instructing a gentile to do a melacha involves prohibited speech because one is saying do a melacha. The other is the directive to do a melacha on Shabbos, regardless of how it is said.

The Avnei Nezer [4] says that the first issue only applies on Shabbos itself, because speaking about doing a melacha is only ossur on Shabbos itself.

As for the second issue we must first appreciate the essence of the issur in instructing a gentile to perform a prohibited act.

We find several opinions amongst the Rishonim that define this prohibition:

  • Smag [5] the possuk says ( ), and we learn from the possuk that one may not have ones melacha performed by a gentile. The Bais Yosef in simon 244 expresses uncertainties as to whether the prohibition is biblical or rabbinical.
  • The Rambam (Zmanim 6:1) says that Chazal forbid instructing a gentile in order to prevent one from losing the seriousness of Shabbos, which in turn might lead to the performance of the melacha. In other words, instructing a gentile to perform an issur could lead one to carry out the issur.
  • Rashi in Shabbos 153a says that the gentile becomes ones (similar to an emissary) and it is as if the Jew himself is performing the melacha.

The Avnei Nezer continues that the second issue applies to instructing the gentile before Shabbos as well, because the concern is the time the melacha is done and not when he was instructed to do it.

Therefore, one may not instruct a gentile before Shabbos to perform a melacha on Shabbos. [6]

            Any examples?

            One may not instruct a gentile to deliver the post on Shabbos. This is true even when one hands him a letter on Sunday and instructs him to deliver it on Shabbos. [7] Even if one pays him to deliver the letter, it is ossur to express that one wants it delivered on Shabbos.

One may not instruct a gentile before Shabbos to turn on the lights at a certain time and turn them off at a certain time. (We still have to learn the halachos regarding a case when the gentile turns them on and off on his own accord).

            What if I only hint?

            Pertaining to the two issues mentioned before, i.e. the speech and the instructing, since one is only hinting they do not apply. For example, the Mechaber says [8] that one may say to a gentile after Shabbos why did you not do such-and-such on Shabbos? The gentile will hopefully understand that you want a certain action performed the next Shabbos. This type of hinting is also a form of because you are hinting that something should be done, which is a form of a direct hint and one may not use this type of a hint [9] on Shabbos itself Rama (simon 307:22). [10] In the case of the Mechaber one is hinting after Shabbos, which has the same effect as hinting before Shabbos.

[1] See the SSK 29:52.

[2] MB simon 307:29.

[3] Simon 307:2 and MB 8-9, and SSK 29:51.

[4] " " ' " " ' -'.

[5] Sefer Mitzvos HaGadol, written by R Moshe Yakov of Couchy.

Born: France, early 1200s. Died: Spain, middle/late1200s.

Notes: Tosefist. Student of R Yehuda HaChassid. Author of Tosefos Yeshanim to Yoma. (Adapted from the bibliography written by R Shlomo Pereira).

[6] See the SSK 30 footnote 2.

[7] Simon 247:1.

[8] Simon 307:2.

[9] Indirect hints are muter on Shabbos itself, but only in certain cases, as we will see beH.

[10] According to the understanding of the MA in seif 22 and the Eshel Avraham, see the Shaar Hatsiun  307:10.


Orchos Chaim LaRosh 

remembering Yerushalayim with concern, sighing and with tears. But what are we lacking, how can we mourn for something we hardly appreciate?

When we daven , we must say to Hashem that we need the Beis Hamikdash to be able to get close. We don't want to constantly have petty battles with the Yetzer Hara, nor do we want to be so self-centered, and it is the Beis Hamikdash and Hashem's presence that will aid in our growth. Entering the courtyard we would prostrate ourselves before Him and banish anything but the will to serve Him with our very being. We lack the clarity of our raison d'être.

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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.