There is a rabbinic decree that a Jew may not ask a gentile, right before Shabbat, to do work for him because he might do it on Shabbat [Gittin 8b]. But in the Mishna [Shabbat 1:8] Hillel allows it, "as long as the sun is still shining".

What was Hillel's reasoning?


1 Answer 1


In Gittin 8b The Gemora says a person may not ask a Gentile to write on Shabbos (or do any Melacha) except for writing a contract buying land in Israel then and there for fear of losing oppurtunity - כותבין עליו אונו ואפילו בשבת בשבת ס"ד כדאמר רבא אומר לעובד כוכבים ועושה

The Mishna in Shabbos is specifically talking about asking the Gentile before Shabbos to do a Melacha when he wants i.e he's not resricted to do the Melacha on Shabbos rather he has time to do it also on sunday if he wants. The Shulchan Aruch Orach chaim 244,1says only discreet jobs which the hirer is not recognized by e.g tanning skins etc. like those mentioned in Shabbos 1,8

מותר במה דברים אמורים בצנעה שאין מכירים הכל שזו המלאכה הנעשית בשבת של ישראל היא

The Mishna Brura Explains (rough translation) that the Jew must not specifically restrain the Gentile to work on Shabbos rather give him sunday as well, and if the gentile does it on Shabbos thats for his own convenience.

דכיון שקצץ אדעתיה דנפשיה קעביד למהר להשלים מלאכתו דלישראל אין קפידא בזה דאם לא יעשהו היום יעשהו למחר דאם קובע לו מלאכתו בשבת אסור

  • Seems to me that if you tell the gentile, on Friday at 4 pm, "I need this first thing Sunday", that guarantees he will do it on Shabbat, and Hillel seems to allow it. I wanted to know why. Nov 2, 2019 at 23:43
  • @MauriceMizrahi that is why you have Rishonim and Acharonim and Poskim to explain that Hillel meant when you tell him to do the Melacha Without specifying to do it on Shabbos.
    – user15464
    Nov 2, 2019 at 23:46
  • Hillel could easily have agreed with Shammai and ruled that you must place the order 3 days or more before Shabbat. But he didn't. Why? It's not enough to cite authorities. Nov 3, 2019 at 0:35
  • @maurice Beis Shamai hold of Shevisas Keilim which means a Melacha cannot be performed for on a Jews item on Shabbos see Gemara 18a אמר רב אושעיא אמר רב אסי מאן תנא שביתת כלים דאורייתא ב"ש היא ולא בית הלל לב"ש בין קעביד מעשה בין דלא קעביד מעשה אסור לבית הלל גאע"ג דקעביד מעשה שרי whereas Beis hillel hold its Ok if its done on Shabbos as long as the Jew gives it to him to do in his own time (i.e also on sunday)
    – user15464
    Nov 3, 2019 at 0:43
  • @MauriceMizrahi: Not so. He may choose to start after sunset on Saturday and give it to you at first light on Sunday.
    – Joshua
    May 8, 2023 at 18:23

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