1

I've seen the answers here that say a non-Jew may not keep Shabbat, although I would definitely take issue with the green check-marked answer there that uses Sefer Shofetim, Hilkhot Melakhim uMilchamoteihem 10:11-12 for this assertion--the cited text does not even imply such a thing, instead it discusses the idea that a בן-נח who wishes to perform a mitzva for the reward of doing so, should not be prevented. In Pereq 9, Ramba"m writes that an idolater (עכו"ם) should be scourged if he attempts to keep Shabbat or studies Torah, or creates any religious practice, telling him he is liable for death for doing so -- but it doesn't say anything about requiring a גר תושב, nor anyone else, to deliberately violate Shabbat ח"ו.

From my understanding, Ramba"m is concerned that the aku"m should know that he is liable to punishment from Heaven if he keeps mitzvot, because by doing so he is indicating a desire to be attached to the covenant...his scourging is to prevent him from damaging himself, not to prevent him from improving himself, as Ramba"m expounds in pereq 9. No such pronouncement is made against a ger toshab.

Where does the teaching come from that a non-Jew (a בן נח) should be compelled to violate Shabbat, even in a small way? Certainly a non-Jew should not say the full berakha for qidush, but a non-Jew not keeping Shabbat completely as a Jew does, is a very different thing from requiring the non-Jew to actively violate Shabbat.

Edit: To be very clear here, I see it as a grave error to assert that the non-idolator non-Jew should be compelled to violate Shabbat -- Ramba"m in Hilkhot Melakhim uMilchamoteihem and Resh Laqish in the gemara of Masekhet Sanhedrin 58b (erroneously referred to as מ"ש by me in comments below--I was trying to shorten stuff up and was thinking Shabbat instead of Sanhedrin) are almost certainly discussing idolaters who are known to not have Jewish ancestry. The notion of compelling someone who has gone off the derekh, or whose great-great-great grandparents did, to violate Shabbat, is horrifying. It is the same greatest problem with the notion of the "shabbos goy"--you don't know who is and isn't halakhically Jewish. Just because they don't know they're Jewish doesn't mean you know that they're not Jewish. By promulgating the teaching that a person who is not known to be a Jew should violate Shabbat, you could very well be compelling an unwitting halakhically Jewish Jew to violate a precept of Torah observance mi-Sinai. What possible benefit is there in doing so for anyone?

15
  • 1
    "Ramba"m writes that an idolater (עכו"ם) should be scourged if he attempts to keep Shabbat or studies Torah, or creates any religious practice" (1) Actually, in the edition of the Mishneh Torah, linked to in the green check-marked answer you mention, it says: "גוי שעסק בתורה, חייב מיתה; לא יעסוק אלא בשבע מצוות שלהן בלבד. וכן גוי ששבת--אפילו ביום מימות החול--אם עשה אותו לעצמו כמו שבת, חייב מיתה; ואין צריך לומר אם עשה מועד לעצמו" (my emphasis).
    – Tamir Evan
    Jan 12 at 4:21
  • 1
    (2) Eliyahu Touger' translation translates עכו"ם as "gentile", and the translation used by Sefaria translates it as "non-Jew".
    – Tamir Evan
    Jan 12 at 4:21
  • 3
    "the abuse of the word גוי to represent "non-Jew" is not valid in halakhic discourse." This isn't true. Can you validate this claim? I think everyone here knows it means non-Jew. The Talmud and Rambam say גוי everywhere but were censored to say עכו"ם
    – robev
    Jan 12 at 6:46
  • 1
    "The notion of compelling someone who has gone off the derekh" no one says a non religious Jew should violate Shabbos.
    – robev
    Jan 12 at 6:48
  • 1
    @תומרשילוח if you want to ping someone with your comment, you need to put an @ sign before their name. Then they get a special ping to come see what you wrote
    – mbloch
    Jan 12 at 14:53

1 Answer 1

8

The gemarra you cite in the comments (Sanhedrin 58b) is the source that a non-Jew is forbidden from observing Shabbos:

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

Even though you are correct it says עובד כוכבים, an idol worshipper, it is well known that the Talmud when it refers to עכו"ם it often means any non-Jew, regardless of faith or practice. In truth, the Talmud originally said גוי, non-Jew, and was censored to say עכו"ם. This is corroborated by the Friedberg Project for Talmud Bavli Variants. All of their editions of the Talmud say גוי, except for the Vilna Shas (which you and I are using). This includes the Venice edition of the Talmud.

The same is true for the Rambam. Although the Vilna edition of the Rambam says עכו"ם, all other editions on the same website say גוי.

Now, this addresses the general question of a non-Jew not observing Shabbos. Normally, I would see no reason why this wouldn't include a גר תושב. However, there's a Rashi to Yevamos 48b which seems to say that a גר תושב is forbidden in violating Shabbos, obviously showing he could (and should) keep Shabbos. However, Tosafos there and in Kerisos disagree, and assume it's equally forbidden for a גר תושב to keep Shabbos, as with any other non-Jew. I believe this latter approach is the predominent one.

You also seem to be wondering about a non-Jew studying for conversion. This is a matter of dispute. I believe most halachic authorities do not differentiate. However, some do. For example, Rav Asher Weiss, a contemporary and prominent Rabbi, rules that someone in the process of conversion need not violate Shabbos. This is based on Tosafos Yeshanim to Yevamos 48b, who write:

וי"ל דזה כיון דדעתו להתגייר מצי לשבות

1

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .