One is not allowed to tell a non-Jew to do a melacha on shabbas, but one can hint and say "it is cold in here", hoping he will realize and shut the air conditioner.

Is one allowed to explain to the non-Jew that he (the Jew) is not allowed to say straight out to do a melacha, so that, from this explanation, the non-Jew will better understand what to do than if he were only told "it is cold in here"?

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    can you source your presumption that one can hint and say "it is cold in here", hoping he will realize and shut the air conditioner? Its not that simple at all. If it cold enough for the people nearby to be considered to be a Choleh, one may say it outright. If it is not so cold, then I dont really see why it is Muttar. Why isnt it benefiting from a Malacha of a Goy that was done for a Yid that is Ossur. Perhaps though 'shutting off' is not benefiting!
    – Yehuda
    Sep 9, 2012 at 18:15
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    @yehuda True, shutting it off is not benefiting from the guf hamelacha. Turning it on is more problematic, but, as you implied, if a person gets sick from the heat, he is a choleh and may ask directly.
    – YDK
    Sep 9, 2012 at 19:46
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    @yehuda it is mutar its called rmizah shlo bderech tzivui,see Magen Avrham 307:31 , Mishna Brurah 76,and Shmira Shabbas Khilchasa 30:6
    – sam
    Sep 9, 2012 at 20:30
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    @sam That Mishnah Brurah actually asks my question of how you get around the problem of being Neheneh from a Maaseh from a Goy on Shabbos. He answers that in his case he already could read and his reading ability only improved, so it is not counted as a proper Hana'ah! In the air-con case however, it is making the room properly warm whereas before it was cold. Once again, perhaps Kivuy of Air-Con is not called Hanaah too.
    – Yehuda
    Sep 9, 2012 at 20:43
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    @yehuda isn't it considered silok hezek? Shutting a light or an annoying sound is all the same? Wtvr the case may be my main question is when it is mutar, can we explain this idea.
    – sam
    Sep 9, 2012 at 20:54

3 Answers 3


The Mishnah Brurah 307:76 explains as follows (with a bit of spice from me). There are two types of Issuei Melacha of Amira LeNochri. Well actually there are really three but the third isnt really about Amira Lenochri. The third one is the Issur to speak on Shabbos about Dvraim Ha'asurim to do on Shabbos. This applies even if you say I will do this Melacha on Sunday. The speech itself is the Chilul. Because this is the Issur, any type of hinting is OK because hinting is considered thought rather then speech and it is speech that is Ossur, not thought. (Although the Gemoro says MeMidas Chassidus is not to even think about doing Melachas after Shabbos).

The next Issur is to request a non-Jew do a Melacha for you on Shabbos regardless if you benefited from it in the end. It is simply forbidden to request a non-Jew to do a Melacha for you. Therefor the Rema says certain types of hinting are also included in this Ban. This is because if you wink at the non-Jew to do it and nod your head at the air-con fo example, that is considered a request. Speech it isnt, and that is why it is not included in the first Issur, but a request it still is. On that the Mishnah Brurah says that is only by a hint in a tone of command, ie a nod, or put the lid on the cap when you want to refer to a totally different Melacha which the non-Jew understands. Because these are essentially requests, just not spoken, these are Ossur.

However to say that it is not light enough in here, or I cannot put on the light, because you are not requesting at all, however obvious it may be that is your intention, it is not considered a request and therefore one may ask the non-Jew. (Obviusly it must be in a way where there is no benefit from the Melacha of a non-Jew that was done for a Jew on Shabbos, because even when you are allowed to ask a non-Jew to do it, you may not benefit. One way that is consiedered not benefiting, is if he put on a candle for you and there was alraedy some light there so it is not considered a Ha'anoh)!

Now for my own hypothesis

I see no reason why it should be Ossur to tell a non-Jew that you are not allowed to ask him to do it on Shabbos. You are not saying it as a request, it is a hint and therefore is in my humble opinion Muttar! (A harder question is to tell the non-Jew during the week, 'why didn't you do that thing last week', this is a debatable topic and is disputed amongst the Rishonim)

  • but you have created what I see as a contradiction: first you say "because you are not requesting at all, however obvious it may be that is your intention, it is not considered a request" and then you see it as ok to explain to the goy that you can't ask directly. isn't this just establishing a code to make the request an obvious one? "when i say 'it is not light enough' you'll know that i want the light on."
    – rosends
    Sep 9, 2012 at 23:17
  • @Yehuda Great answer; could we have a source for "hinting is considered thinking and not speech"?
    – SAH
    Aug 10, 2018 at 9:26

Just to add another point, in the specific case you mentioned, there are authorities who permit asking the non Jew directly to turn off the air conditioning, as according to them turning off the air conditioning is only rabbinically prohibited, and one may ask a non Jew in case of need to do something which is only rabbinically prohibited.

  • Why would you ask a non-Jew to do anything if there's no need? Every case is a case of need.
    – msh210
    Jul 15, 2013 at 22:57
  • A case if need refers to a situation where a person is in a position of discomfort, such as a very hot day without air conditioning. If a person wants something done for his pleasure, but he is not currently in a situation of discomfort, he may not ask a non-jew to do even a rabbinic prohibition. Jul 16, 2013 at 19:16

There are two prohibitions of Amira L'Akum.

  1. To tell a gentile to do melachah
  2. To benefit from a melachah done by a gentile for a Jew

The first problem can be avoided through hinting, e.g. "It's cold in here, and we may not turn of the air conditioning." Note that the halachos of what is considered hinting vs. saying is fairly complicated.

The second problem is not an issue if it's not considered a true benefit (such as turning of a light to allow for easier sleeping). In the case of it being cold, however, providing heat is a real benefit, so we have a problem.

That being said, there may be room to permit it in this case. Since "everyone is sick when facing the cold", it may be possible to be lenient, depending on whether the activity is prohibited min haTorah (Biblically) or miderabanan (Rabbinically), how cold it is, whether there's somewhere else to go to avoid the cold, and whether there are young children suffering.

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