There was an actual מעשה that I heard from someone, in which a Shabbos goy was found to be Jewish, Hashem Yishmor! My שאילה is, do we say that the Shabbos goy or the person designating the Shabbos goy is more at fault? Or are they equally at fault?

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    Of course you're not allowed to ask a Jew to do a melacha on shabbos or benefit from it. But it seems pretty clear that they're both shogeg in this scenario. I'm not quite sure what your question is.
    – shmosel
    Mar 23, 2023 at 20:58
  • They could both bear some level of responsibility. The question is what do you mean by חייב. חייב what exactly?
    – robev
    Mar 23, 2023 at 21:01
  • My question is more on, who will be more at fault? Or are they both equally at fault?
    – Shteigg101
    Mar 23, 2023 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


If he knew he was halachically Jewish, then it's his fault. If he didn't, then it's nobody's fault, because you can't expect his employers to conduct in-depth investigations (cursory, maybe). But why are you so anxious to place the blame on somebody? At any rate, the practice of using the Shabbat goy is extremely limited, usually to life-and-death situations or huge loss:

It is permitted for a Gentile to make a fire [for Jews on Shabbat] ... when it is extremely cold [Shulḥan Arukh, Orach Ḥayyim 276:5]

If you are threatened with a loss... you may call in a non-Jew... provided you carefully avoid talking to him in a way that sounds like a request. You may say in his presence [but not to him]: “Whoever will save me from this loss, will not lose anything”. [Kitzur Shulḥan Arukh 90:16]

The Ohr HaChaim, in commenting on Exodus 35:2-3, writes:

The Torah may also wish to remind us that performance of work on Shabbat is prohibited whether performed by a Jew or by a Gentile on his behalf. The word לֹֽ֣א־תַעֲשֶׂ֣֨ה lo taaseh, “[work] shall not be done”, is in the passive form, which means that, whereas it is permissible for a Jew to have his work performed by Gentiles during the week, on Shabbat his work must not be performed at all by anybody.

  • I'm not sure what you're saying is true. You can have a goy turn off a light in certain situations, or fix the air conditioner if you're too hot, etc. Not as limited as you claim.
    – robev
    Mar 23, 2023 at 21:05
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    References appreciated. I gave you mine. Mar 23, 2023 at 21:06
  • A personal confession,: I am a non-observant Jew. One night I was celebrating Succoth with some Chabadnik neighbors when the lights (which were on a timer) suddenly went out. We were left in near-total darkness, and the non-Jewish housekeeper had already gone home. The hosts and everyone gathered were in dismay. So I volunteered to flip the switch if it would not offend my hosts. "It's a blessing, it's a blessing!" everyone shouted. I hope they we right ;-) Mar 23, 2023 at 21:13
  • Yeah I don't think that's a thing @DanFefferman
    – robev
    Mar 23, 2023 at 21:16
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    @DanFefferman I have relatives who out of genuine compassion sometimes offer to do melacha for me, so sweet, makes it hard to turn them down but of course I do - if they only knew the best way they can make me happy would be to let me sit in the dark :) shmosel I think they meant "don't worry, the lights going off is not an issue, it's a blessing! So don't turn it off", right?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Mar 23, 2023 at 22:40

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