Motzey Shabbos and Yom Tov I saw that Shabbos morning I received a fundraising email from a certain well known (controversial) frum group . Possibly it was an automatically generated email coming off a sales automation program. Even assuming that is allowed being that Friday was Yom Tov it’s unlikely that their list is so big that it takes two days to send out a mass email. This leads me to suspect that their sales automation was possibly activated on Shabbos or Yom Tov.

The fundraiser who sent it out is not Jewish and probably working on a commission basis with no set hours. Even so the recipients of these emails are probably almost 100% Jewish with a large percent being secular Jews who would look at their emails on Shabbos. Among other potential problems like maaris aiyin.

Is or isn’t this allowed and why?

  • 1
  • It could have been an accident
    – Double AA
    May 29, 2023 at 1:21
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    If I'm correct, you can actually schedule an email. So who's to say he did not draft it up another day, and scheduled it for Shabbos?
    – Shmuel
    May 29, 2023 at 11:22
  • I used to run email blasts for an organization, it wouldn't be very difficult to accidentally schedule an email for Shabbos.
    – Esther
    May 29, 2023 at 13:44

1 Answer 1


This is highly unlikely to be allowed because people will assume the fundraiser is working on Shabbat on behalf of a Jew (which is forbidden).

R Eliezer Melamed discusses this at length Peninei Halakha Shabbat 25:8

A non-Jew may only do contract work for a Jew on Shabbat if it is not apparent that the work is being done on a Jew’s behalf. If it is apparent, as is the case if the work is being done in the Jew’s home, it is forbidden to contract the work to a non-Jew because of marit ayin. Therefore, the Sages instructed that one should not allow a non-Jewish contractor who is hired to build a home to work on Shabbat, since if people see the contractor working they will think that the homeowner has desecrated Shabbat by hiring a non-Jew to work on Shabbat (SA 244:1).

In addition, depending on the agreement with the non-Jew (whether the money directly benefits the Jew), benefiting from the fundraising is forbidden as R Melamed describes elsewhere in Peninei Halakha Shabbat 25:1

The Sages decreed that a Jew may not benefit from a melakha performed by a non-Jew for the Jew’s benefit. For example, if the lights in one’s home went out, and a non-Jewish neighbor came and turned the lights on, neither the Jews living in that home nor any other Jews may benefit from these lights, since they were turned on for a Jew on Shabbat (SA 276:1).

Of course, consult your rabbi should you want to try something close to this in practice.

  • Benefit in this case would be permitted. The non Jew is doing it for his commission not for the Jew so it’s adata denafshei. Additionally, he’s a contractor not a hourly employee so it’s only assur because of maris ayin. However, in this case there might be room for additional leniency since everyone knows how these things work, it might be considered a city that everything is contracted out and therefore permitted
    – Chatzkel
    May 30, 2023 at 3:42
  • Or alternatively, the marit ayin is so significant that it is clearly forbidden. Who knows if the contractor is Jewish? Maybe he works as a salaried employee? These things are typically not known by the recipients of the email
    – mbloch
    May 30, 2023 at 17:05
  • Good point, but the question was based on the fact that he did know he wasn’t Jewish and commission based
    – Chatzkel
    May 30, 2023 at 17:13
  • Right. My point was that the setup overall is forbidden because most recipients won't know who the fundraiser is and what his status is. Do you know that for most of the charity emails you get? I think we agree on the halacha - its application will depend on the specifics as always
    – mbloch
    May 31, 2023 at 3:30

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