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Din & Daf: Amira Le-Nokhri- Asking a Non-Jew to do Something for You that You May Not Do

Din & Daf: Conceptual Analysis of Halakha Through Case Study with Dr. Elana Stein Hain

Dr. Elana Stein Hain – dinanddaf@hadran.org.il

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In discussing the prohibition of muzzling an animal as it does farm work, the Gemara asks whether one may ask a non-Jew to muzzle the animal and work it instead. What is the logic behind the prohibition to ask a non-Jew to perform an action for a Jew that the Jew herself may not perform?

Bava Metzia 90a

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  • בבא מציעא צ.

אִיבַּעְיָא לְהוּ: מַהוּ שֶׁיֹּאמַר אָדָם לְנׇכְרִי ״חֲסוֹם פָּרָתִי וְדוּשׁ בָּהּ״? מִי אָמְרִינַן: כִּי אָמְרִינַן אֲמִירָה לְנׇכְרִי שְׁבוּת, הָנֵי מִילֵּי לְעִנְיַן שַׁבָּת – דְּאִיסּוּר סְקִילָה, אֲבָל חֲסִימָה, דְּאִיסּוּר לָאו – לָא, אוֹ דִלְמָא לָא שְׁנָא?

 

A dilemma was raised before the Sages: What is the halakha with regard to the possibility that a person can say to a gentile: Muzzle my cow and thresh with it? Do we say that when we state the principle that requesting of a gentile to perform for oneself a task forbidden to a Jew is prohibited by a rabbinic decree, this matter applies only to Shabbat, when the performance of labor is a prohibition that entails stoning, but with regard to muzzling, which is merely a regular prohibition, giving an instruction of this kind to a gentile is not prohibited; or perhaps there is no difference between the prohibitions of Shabbat and other prohibitions in this regard?

 

  • שמות יב:טז

וּבַיּ֤וֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן֙ מִקְרָא־קֹ֔דֶשׁ וּבַיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מִקְרָא־קֹ֖דֶשׁ יִהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֑ם כׇּל־מְלָאכָה֙ לֹא־יֵעָשֶׂ֣ה בָהֶ֔ם אַ֚ךְ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יֵאָכֵ֣ל לְכׇל־נֶ֔פֶשׁ ה֥וּא לְבַדּ֖וֹ יֵעָשֶׂ֥ה לָכֶֽם׃

You shall celebrate a sacred occasion on the first day, and a sacred occasion on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them; only what every person is to eat, that alone may be prepared for you.

 

  • מכילתא דר’ ישמעאל פסחא ט:ד

“כָּל מְלָאכָה לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה בָהֶם”. לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה אַתָּה וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה חֲבֵרָךְ, וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה גּוֹי מְלַאכְתָּךְ.

אַתָּה אוֹמֵר כֵּן, אוֹ אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה אַתָּה וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה חֲבֵרָךְ, וְיַעֲשֶׂה גּוֹי מְלַאכְתָּךְ? תִּלְמֹד לוֹמַר: (שמות לה,ב) “שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תֵּעָשֶׂה מְלָאכָה, וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי יִהְיֶה לָכֶם קֹדֶשׁ, שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן לַה’, כָּל הָעֹשֶׂה בוֹ מְלָאכָה יוּמָת.” הָא לָמַדְתָּ “כָּל מְלָאכָה לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה בָהֶם”, הָא לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה אַתָּה וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה חֲבֵרָךְ, וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה הַגּוֹי מְלַאכְתָּךְ. דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי יֹאשִׁיָּה.

 

No work at all shall be done on them – You shall not do, nor shall your friend, nor shall a non-Jew do your work. Do you say so, or perhaps just you and your friend (=fellow Jew) may not do, but a non-Jew may do your work? Therefore, Scripture teaches (Shemot 35:2), “For 6 days labor shall be done, and on the seventh day it shall be consecrated for you (plural), a day of rest for God, all who do labor on that it shall die.” Thus, you learn, “no works shall be done on them” – neither you, nor your friend, nor a Jew may do your work, per R. Yoshiyah.

 

  • בבלי שבת קנג.

משנה: מִי שֶׁהֶחֱשִׁיךְ בַּדֶּרֶךְ — נוֹתֵן כִּיסוֹ לְגוֹי

One who was traveling on Shabbat eve and night fell gives their money pouch to a gentile.

 

גמרא: מַאי טַעְמָא שָׁרוּ לֵיהּ רַבָּנַן לְמִיתַּב כִּיסֵיהּ לְגוֹי?

What is the reason that the Sages permitted the Jew to give their pouch to a gentile? Is it not prohibited for a Jew to ask a gentile to perform a prohibited labor on Shabbat? 

 

  • רש”י שבת קנג. ד”ה מאי טעמא שרי ליה למיתב לנכרי

והרי הוא שלוחו לישאנו בשבת

Doesn’t the gentile become the Jew’s emissary to carry the pouch on Shabbat?

 

  • רמב”ם משנה תורה הל’ שבת ו:א

אָסוּר לוֹמַר לְנָכְרִי לַעֲשׂוֹת לָנוּ מְלָאכָה בְּשַׁבָּת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְצֻוֶּה עַל הַשַּׁבָּת. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ מִקֹּדֶם הַשַּׁבָּת. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְאוֹתָהּ מְלָאכָה אֶלָּא לְאַחַר הַשַּׁבָּת. וְדָבָר זֶה אָסוּר מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תִּהְיֶה שַׁבָּת קַלָּה בְּעֵינֵיהֶן וְיָבוֹאוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּעַצְמָן:

It is forbidden for us to tell a gentile to perform work on the Sabbath on our behalf, although they are not commanded [to observe] the Sabbath. [This applies] even when the instructions were conveyed to them before the Sabbath and we do not require [the products of] their work until after the Sabbath.

The above is forbidden as a Rabbinical prohibition to prevent the people from regarding the Sabbath lightly, lest they perform [forbidden] labor themselves.

 

  • ישעיהו נח:יג

אִם־תָּשִׁ֤יב מִשַּׁבָּת֙ רַגְלֶ֔ךָ עֲשׂ֥וֹת חֲפָצֶ֖יךָ בְּי֣וֹם קָדְשִׁ֑י וְקָרָ֨אתָ לַשַּׁבָּ֜ת עֹ֗נֶג לִקְד֤וֹשׁ ה’ מְכֻבָּ֔ד וְכִבַּדְתּוֹ֙ מֵעֲשׂ֣וֹת דְּרָכֶ֔יךָ מִמְּצ֥וֹא חֶפְצְךָ֖ וְדַבֵּ֥ר דָּבָֽר׃

If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,

From pursuing your affairs on My holy day;

If you call the sabbath “delight,”

GOD ’s holy day “honored”;

And if you honor it and go not your ways

Nor look to your affairs, nor strike bargains—

 

  • שולחן ערוך אורח חיים שז:א-ב

ודבר דבר שלא יהא דבורך של שבת כדבורך של חול הילכך אסור לומר דבר פלוני אעשה למחר או סחורה פלונית אקנה למחר ואפי’ בשיחת דברים בטלים אסור להרבות: הגה וב”א שסיפור שמועות ודברי חדושים הוא עונג להם מותר לספרם בשבת כמו בחול אבל מי שאינו מתענג אסור לאומרם כדי שיתענג בהם חבירו: (ת”ה סי’ ס”א):

 

  1. The Laws of Shabbat as it relates to Speech, 22 Seifim: 

Ve’daber davar” (teaches us) that one’s manner of speech on Shabbos must not be the same as one’s manner of speech on a weekday. Therefore, it is prohibited to say ‘I will do such and such tomorrow’ or ‘I will purchase this and this merchandise tomorrow’. Even idle talk should be curbed. RAMA: People who enjoy hearing stories or the latest news may speak these things on Shabbos but one who does not enjoy them may not speak them for the sake of giving pleasure to someone else.

 

אסור לשכור פועלים ולא לומר לעכו”ם לשכור לו פועלים בשבת אע”פ שאין הישראל צריך לאותה מלאכה אלא לאחר השבת שכל מה שהוא אסור לעשותו בשבת אסור לומר לעכו”ם לעשותו אפי’ לומר לו קודם השבת לעשותו בשב’ אסור אבל מותר לומר לו אחר השבת למה לא עשית דבר פלוני בשבת שעבר אף על פי שמבין מתוך דבריו שרצונו שיעשנו בשבת הבאה:

  1. It is prohibited to hire workers or to ask a Gentile to hire workers on Shabbos, even if the Jew only requires the work to be done after Shabbos. This is because everything that one is forbidden to do it is forbidden to tell a Gentile to do. It is also prohibited to ask a Gentile before Shabbos to do something on Shabbos. Nevertheless one is permitted to say to him after Shabbos “why did you not do so and so last Shabbos”, even though he will understand that one wishes he should do that particular Melacha next Shabbos.

Dr. Elana Stein Hain is the Rosh Beit Midrash and a senior research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Passionate about bringing Torah into conversation with contemporary life, she teaches Talmud from the Balcony, an occasional learning seminar exposing the big ideas, questions, and issues motivating Talmudic discussions; she authored Circumventing the Law: Rabbinic Perspectives on Legal Loopholes and Integrity  which uses halakhic loopholes as a lens for understanding rabbinic views on law and ethics; and she co-hosts For Heaven’s Sake, a bi-weekly podcast with Donniel Hartman and Yossi Klein Halevi, exploring contemporary issues related to Israel and the Jewish world. Elana has also started TEXTing; a podcast where she and guest scholars study Torah texts that engage issues of the moment for the Jewish world. She lives in Manhattan with her beloved family.


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Beyond the Daf is where you will discover enlightening shiurim led by remarkable women, delving deep into the intricacies of Talmudic teachings, and exploring relevant and thought-provoking topics that arise from the Daf.

 

Dr. Elana Stein Hain

Dr. Elana Stein Hain is the Rosh Beit Midrash and a senior research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Passionate about bringing Torah into conversation with contemporary life, she teaches Talmud from the Balcony, an occasional learning seminar exposing the big ideas, questions, and issues motivating talmudic discussions; she authored Circumventing the Law: Rabbinic Perspectives on Legal Loopholes and Integrity (pre-order discount code: PENN-ESHAIN30) which uses halakhic loopholes as a lens for understanding rabbinic views on law and ethics; and she co-hosts For Heaven’s Sake, a bi-weekly podcast with Donniel Hartman and Yossi Klein Halevi, exploring contemporary issues related to Israel and the Jewish world. In mid-January, Elana will be starting a new podcast called TEXTing, where she and guest scholars study Torah texts that engage issues of the moment for the Jewish world. She lives in Manhattan with her beloved family.
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