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I understand that if a non-Jew performs labor on Shabbes for a Jew, the Jew cannot benefit from that labor - but what if it was performed for a group of people, only one/some of whom are Jewish? For the sake of an example, let's say that a non-Jew turns on a heater because a group of people has just walked in from the rain, but one of those people is Jewish.

Please, only sourced answers. I would like to see halakhic discussion on this issue, which I can then check in printed literature.

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    It is permissible anyway to ask a non-Jew to turn on heating on Shabbos because ha'kol cholim etzel ha'tzinah.
    – pcoz
    Jul 30 at 4:26
  • Just a comment because I don't have sources handy, but even more extreme than heating (which is a general "can't do for one without everyone"), even more specific stuff - e.g., I heard once in a Shiur from my Rabbi, and then got confirmation from a Rabbi who travels a lot and did this himself, that if you are in a non-Jewish hotel (not run by Jews, majority of guests not Jewish) and there is food available prepared on Shabbos then if there is no Kashrus problem (e.g., classic example according to most is ordinary coffee) then you can eat/drink with no concern. As opposed to a Jewish hotel Jul 30 at 14:41
  • where it becomes a big concern that everything be prepared in advance, etc. Jul 30 at 14:41
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In general, a Jew is permitted to benefit from the melacha (forbidden Shabbat labor) a non-Jew does for himself or for other non-Jews.

R Daniel Braude (Learn Shabbos, pp. 521ff) writes that

  • a Jew can benefit from a melacha performed by a non-Jew for himself (if there is no need for more melacha to benefit the Jew), e.g., switching a light is fine as the non-Jew doesn't need more work to benefit the Jew, boiling water is not as there needs to be more water for the Jew
  • a Jew can benefit from a melacha performed a non-Jew if the non-Jew doesn't know the Jew and the Jew is not visibly present at the time of the melacha
  • if it is unclear for whom the non-Jew did the melacha, it depends on who is present. If it is a majority of Jews, it is forbidden to benefit, if the majority are non-Jews, it is permitted
  • if it is clear the non-Jew performed the melacha for non-Jews, then Jews can benefit even if they are the majority

In your specific case, it appears permitted since the Jew is a minority in a group of non-Jews for which the melacha was performed.

These laws are discussed in Shulchan Aruch OC 325, see there with Mishna Brura. See esp. 325:10 as well as OC 276:1 and commentaries. In English see here and here.

Of course, consult your rabbi before implementing anything you learn here.

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