A non-Jew is forbidden from observing Shabbos. When someone is in the process of converting, we advise them to keep the entire Shabbos besides for doing one forbidden activity. A common practice is to carry something in their pocket (if there is no eiruv). However, according to some carrying is generally only breaking Shabbos on a Rabbinic level since most city streets have only the status of a karmalis (rabbinic public domain), not a reshus harabim (biblical public domain). Is it sufficient to break Shabbos on a Rabbinic level to avert the problem of a gentile keeping Shabbos? Woudn't it be better to tell them to switch on an incandescent light bulb in their room, or some other action which is simple to do and violates Shabbos on a biblical level according to everyone?

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    This is a good question (and +1), but there are bits of it that need to be fixed up or changed. The karmelit is not a rabbinic public domain, but a rabbinic sub-division of the maqom patur. It includes, according to most authorities, places like deserts and oceans: open places that are not usually frequented by people (although note the Rambam, who defines these as reshuyot harabbim). Open places in our cities, such as marketplaces and roads, are still reshuyot harabbim according to the rabbis.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 6:33
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    Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer has a very good summary of the different domains in his The Contemporary Eruv: Eruvin in Modern Metropolitan Areas (2nd ed; Jerusalem: Feldheim, 1998), §1.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 6:34
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    is it d'oraita that a non-Jew cannot keep shabbos or is that d'rabbanan? Commented Sep 10, 2012 at 19:44
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    @CharlesKoppelman d'rabanan don't give out מיתה.
    – JNF
    Commented Oct 1, 2012 at 21:51
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    I rem hearing a good story but don't rem all the details. I think it involved a ger who asked if one can light a match but he said that is a melacha sheina tricha l'gufa because he is only doing it for shabbas,so I think they asked Rav Pam and he said he can be machmir like the shittah that would make him liable. Not so sure on all details if someone ever heard it please correct my mistakes if I am mistaken.
    – sam
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 3:24

2 Answers 2


Resting for a Goy is our human intuitive definition for rest (as I understand from this source), not keeping Halachic Shabbat. I guess it would depend on that, not exactly on דרבנן vs. דאורייתא.

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    According to the Binyon Tzion cited in your source, carrying a key would certainly not be considered enough even in a reshus harabim. The question is whether we follow his ruling l'maaseh - lehakel or lehachmir..
    – Michoel
    Commented Oct 2, 2012 at 12:16
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    R' Herschel Shachter said in a lecture (which is probably on YU Torah somewhere, but I can't recall which lecture it was) that a non-Jew is not permitted to rest on Shabbat even as Jews rest on Chol Hamoed. So seemingly the non-Jew must do something purposeless, as turning on a light he needs or carrying a key he needs are permitted on Chol Hamoed.
    – Ze'ev
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 14:05

The prohibition of a non-Jew from observing Shabbos is rabbinic so it is sufficient for the non-Jew to observe this on a rabbinic level.

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    I don't understand your statement. What do you mean by 'sufficient'? Also, if you can source this that would greatly improve its value.
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 17:09
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    I thought the reason why non jews cant keep shabbos is because its stealing from the jews since God gave Shabbos to the jews (Gemara Sanhedrin) and stealing is a Noahide law which is Torah law, not rabbinic.
    – shlomo
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 1:29

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