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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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6  
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
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@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 (For Jews, of course, this was rescinded later when they received the commandment to rest on Shabbos.)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
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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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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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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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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)."


I just came upon a presentation from an Orthodox Rabbi, Chaim Clorfene who has done extensive study in Torah, written and oral. He says this is happening more and more among gentiles and offers explanation. These are my notes--semi transcription/summary. I welcome anyone else listening and editing to make it a true transcription:

@1:00-5:00 minutes: Beginning with the patriarchs spoken of in the Sabbath afternoon prayer, he points out that the Patriarchs were all Noahides, because Israel became Israelites at Sanai.

Sanhedrin 56 BC 7 says HaShem taught them at Marah they were taught laws of Noah Honoring Father and mother, Civil laws and Shabbat. It cannot just be that he taught them not commanded but they traveled fro sin to monafel, and instructed/commanded them and it says "the people (Ha am)" as opposed to bene Israel, rested that day and thus it includes the mixed multitude. It does not weigh in that they were going to accept the Torah on Sanai; you are judged according to what you are at that time, not what you will be.

@ 5:00
The ten commandments: "...and the Ger within your gates" Is ger a Jew or gentile? Logically it cannot be a Jew because "you" is the Jew to whom he is speaking, so the ger must be someone other than the main object of the commandment. The Ramban, based on deut 14:21, you shall not eat anything that dies of itself, you can give it to the ger or sell it to the Nachide (not nohaide, but not idolater). A Jew is not allowed to eat unkoshier meat. The Ger has to be a gentile who is allowed to eat unkoshier meat. Thus based on that Rambaun teaches every time scripture addresses "the ger within you gate," we are talking about the Noahide. "That means that according to Halachah, the ger within your gates in the ten commandments, is a gentile."

@7:55
Rashi-- Yobamos 48:b Talmud--A ger toshav who has taken upon himself not to serve idols but retains the right to eat non koshier meat is warned by Scripture that his working on the Sabbath is tantamount to worshiping idols (rf. the ten commandments). And the atonement for worshiping idols is keeping Shabbat; that is the primary atonement. We learn particularly about the Jew, the Jew who has been an idol worshiper, his keeping shabbat is coming back home. The tor shan han arut, says the only atonement that does not need suffering is keeping Sabbath...

@9:21
In the repetition of the ten commandments (Deuteronomy): He is repeating and explaining it and in this particular commandment of observing Shabbat, Moses gives the reason He gave the Shabbat--you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God brought you out (He quotes the passage).

A slave does not have a day of rest. So, if you want to say that the Noahide cannot keep the Sabbath, you are sending everyone in the world but the Jews to Egyptian slavery. Yur saying that you cannot have a day of rest. Is that what you think God wants? That the world cannot have a day of rest? That is clearly against the whole point. God is a liberator, .... He identifies Himself as a liberator..."I am the Lord your God, who took you out of the house of bondage" that's who God is, and your going to make Him into a slaver!

The whole world can keep the Shabbat, almost, certainly the Noahide.

@11:40
Talmud, Gamarah crisos 9:a three opinions about the ger toshave permitted to work What is the ger permitted to do 1. observe the sabbath like an intermediate day of a holiday--not allowed to do certain kind of work, not skilled labor, unless you needed to do it for your livelihood, or needed to do it to have money for the hliday food. 2. observe it like a festival day--allowed to cook food and carry. 3. he can do it like a Jew on the week day.

But look what it's saying, it's saying look what you CAN do! The presumption is you CAN't do anything! The presumption is you have to rest on the Sabbath, and here are the leniencies given! ...according to the Talmud, the ben Noach is expected to rest on the Sabbath and these three perspectives are that there is a leniency, compared to the Jew, that he is allowed to do on the Sabbath. Obviously we are saying that the Talmud is saying that the Noahid must rest on the Sabbath.

@15:00
There are two exceptions: If he lives and works among the Jews particularly in the land of the Jews he must rest like a Jew completely so he does not break the sanctity of the Shabbat in the community and so others don't imitate him. If he is not living with the Jews, it is up to him.

Ramban, this is the main teaching that those who say a Noahide cannot observe the Sabbath they base it on this: "the hacom who rests on the Sabbath is liable to the death penalty" An acom is an idol worshipper one who serves stars and constalations. What could be a bigger desicration than an idol worshipper keeping Sabbath.

The Ramban is very explicit and exacting in his expression, when he says the acom, he means the idol worshiper. The very next halacha is about the noahide giving charity. If a ben noah, we should accept it and give it to the Jewish poor. But if an idol worshiper gives charity we should take it and give it to the idol worshipers poor. The Ramban explicitly makes the distinction between acom and noachide.

The ones who say that according to the Ramban which is the one they all quote for this is just wrong, it is just wrong, its just a mis-translation. If you look at the most popular translation of the Ramban, it says gentile there for both acum and ben noach, in the next, so the translators are not making the distinction and neither are the rabbis make the distinction.

The ger toshoav is permitted to keep shabbat and the acum is forbidden to keep shabbat.

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

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