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According to Jewish Law and tradition, is it acceptable, discouraged or totally unacceptable for a Gentile to keep the Sabbath according to the regulations spelled out in the Torah and the Talmud and expounded upon by the Rabbis?

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Why not? So God will punish me if I rest on Shabath? I must forget the shabath and desecrate it? – Jim Thio Sep 29 '12 at 15:30
@JimThio See Alex's comment to the question below (judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/13447/…) – b a Sep 30 '12 at 3:12
up vote 15 down vote accepted

A non Jew is not allowed to keep Shabbos. Those that are in the process of converting make sure to do at least one thing on Shabbos that would normally not be allowed. For example they might carry something in their pocket.

משנה תורה לרמב"ם, ספר שופטים, הלכות מלכים ומלחמות, פרק י, יא - י"ב

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I had thought the only laws incumbent on non-Jews were those given to Noah; how did non-Jews receive the law to violate Shabbat? – ruakh Jan 19 '12 at 22:20
@ruakh, the Talmud derives this from a verse said to Noah, "They shall not cease" (Gen. 8:22) - implying, besides its plain meaning that the natural divisions of time will never be suspended, that people "shall not cease" performing melachah (creative work). (For Jews, of course, this was rescinded later when they received the commandment to rest on Shabbos.) It's not counted as one of the Seven Laws, though, because there is no statutory punishment for it. – Alex Jan 19 '12 at 23:03
But if a non-jew isn't allowed to keep shabbes, then wouldn't keeping shabbes be something they aren't allowed to do... on shabbes? Therefore, by keeping shabbes, they are violating it, which means... help! (Kidding!) – neilfein Jan 20 '12 at 6:05

The Torah says "The Children of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath an eternal covenant for their generations. Between Me and the Children of Israel it is a sign forever that in a six-day period Hashem made the heaven and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed." (Exodus 31:16,17 Artscroll Translation).

The Sabbath was given as a sign and covenant to Israel, a Gentile is forbidden to observe the Sabbath or to make a Sabbath of their own, a Halachah codified in the Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings 10:9.

It is important to realize, however, that it is generally forbidden to instruct a non-Jew to perform anything on Shabbos that a Jew is prohibited to do by law (Orach Chaim 307:2).

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I agree with Gershon Gold's answer.

I have had several Christian guests in our home over the years. Many of them wish to experience authentic Jewish practices, since they view Judaism as the source of their own religion.

I asked, on a practical level, if I have violated anything by allowing a non-Jew to keep shabbos in my house.

The answer I received was; the obligation to not keep shabbos is incumbent upon the Gentile. Therefore, I was not responsible in any way to encourage my Gentile guests to break shabbos while in my home.

(In every case, they all used their cell phones and / or computers at some point during shabbos, which may or may not be a d'oraisa, but certainly removes them from the category a shomer shabbos.)

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RMB"M writes that gentiles are not allowed to rest during any day of the week, be it shabbat, sunday, or even wednesday.

Cf. http://judaism.stackexchange.com/a/16325/1059

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The source for the Halacha is Talmud Sanhedrin 58B:

ואר"ל עובד כוכבים ששבת חייב מיתה שנא' ויום ולילה לא ישבותו ואמר מר אזהרה שלהן זו היא מיתתן אמר רבינא אפי' שני בשבת

Soncino Translation:

Resh Lakish also said: A heathen who keeps a day of rest, deserves death, for it is written (Gen. VIII, 22), And a day and a night they shall not rest, and a master has said: Their prohibition is their death sentence. Rabina said: Even if he rested on a Monday.

Interestingly, the simple meaning of Bereshit 8:22 is not referring to people working, but rather that the heavenly bodies will never cease to function again (as they did in the flood).

Rashi on the Talmud says that the verse also refers to people (in addition to the heavenly bodies).

There is a Sicha (in Yiddish) (Likutei Sichot 15, pg 49) from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, which discusses the connection between the simple meaning of the verse and the prohibition of a gentile to keep Shabbat according to the Rambam.

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YHWH says in Exodus 20:10:

Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it. Six days may you work and perform all your labor, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord, your God; you shall perform no labor, neither you, your son, your daughter, your manservant, your maidservant, your beast, nor your stranger who is in your cities.

the Hebrew word, translated "stranger" is גֵּר.

Rashi, in his commentary on verse 10, indicates in regard to the son, and daughter, that they have already been warned to not work on Sabbath, and that this passage speaks to the adult warning him to not allow the child to work on the Sabbath. Applying similar logic, the address is to the people of Israel (see chapter 19 for context) but regarding the stranger. Just as the child must be taught and warned, so, a stranger may be unaware of the law, and thus should be taught it and warned of the consequences; Israel is responsible to see that none of these work on Sabbath.

Isaiah 56:1-4, 6-8

So says YHWH, "Keep justice and practice righteousness, for My salvation is near to come, and My benevolence to be revealed." Fortunate is the man who will do this and the person who will hold fast to it, he who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it and guards his hand from doing any evil. Now let not the foreigner who joined YHWH, say, "YHWH will surely separate me from His people," ...the foreigners who join with YHWH to serve Him and to love the name of YHWH, to be His servants, everyone who observes the Sabbath from profaning it and who holds fast to My covenant. I will bring them to My holy mount, and I will cause them to rejoice in My house of prayer, their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon My altar, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. So says YHWH God, Who gathers in the dispersed of Israel, I will yet gather others to him, together with his gathered ones.

The Hebrew word, translated, "foreigner" is נֵכָר.

Rashi, in his commentary for verse 7, interprets the "foreigners who join themselves to YHWH," as proselytes.

Jewish sages assert that the non-Jew who has put off foreign worship and embraced the One true God of Israel, must observe Shabbath; the non-Jew who does not put off foreign worship and keeps Sabbath would be "Chayav Misah (death penalty).".

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protected by Double AA Nov 18 '13 at 9:33

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