Consider the following situation.

A shul makes a large Kiddush every Shabbos morning after Davening. They have many food items that need to be prepared and set up for the Kiddush however the preparation involves the malacha of borer and therefore should normally be done close to the seudah (let's say they need to peel certain fruits, eggs, etc but perhaps won't run into problems of having to remove bad parts of the food from the good.)

There are gentiles that work in the Shul and are able to set up the Kiddush. However they'd rather finish their work early in the morning (around 8, 9 am and leave instead of hanging around the shul or coming later at 11 am to set up for the Kiddush). Thus perhaps creating a problem since the malacha of "borer" that what they will do will not be done "somach" (close) to the beginning of the seudah, rather several hours before. Borer can be permitted with certain conditions, however as far as I know one condition is that it has to be "somach" (close) to the beginning of the seudah.

Is one allowed to tell them to set up for the Kiddush, knowing that they will set it up early? Or must they be told to specifically set up for the Kiddush at a later time when it will be closer to the start of the seudah? What proofs could be brought to support a psak one way or the other?


3 Answers 3


You ask for sources that can be brought to support a decision. There are a number of elements to weigh in (extracted from The sanctity of Shabbos by R Simcha Bunim Cohen on the laws of non-Jews on Shabbos, pp. 29-40)

Amira l'akum: it is prohibited to tell a non-Jew to do a melacha d'orayta (forbidden Torah prohibition) on Shabbat

Shvut d'shvut: In certain circumstances, it is permitted to tell a non-Jew to perform a melacha d'rabanan (rabbinic prohibition), specifically to avert a substancial financial loss, for a mitzvah, to alleviate considerable pain and to maintain human dignity

Oneg shabbat: shvut d'shvut applies to asking a non-Jew to do a melacha d'rabanan for the sake of Shabbat enjoyment. Oneg shabbat includes the three Shabbat meals. Therefore one may ask a non-Jew to do a melacha d'rabanan to arrange for those items that are basic to the Shabbat meals.

R Cohen lists the foods that are considered basic to most people and included in that permission: wine, challah, fish, meat. He excludes kugel, salads, drinks, desserts (and sources it from what he heard in the name of R Moshe Feinstein, R Chaim Pinchas Steinberg and R Yechezkel Roth).

Borer: your question is on borer (selecting) specifically. Shemirah Shabbat Kehilchata writes explicitly (3:62) that, in case of a large meal, one can select early in advance of a meal ("considerable time beforehand", "even if the meal considers of different courses one wishes to prepare before the guests arrive") BUT NOT to select food for a meal which is not yet due to begin, even though he wishes to do so in order to enable him to go home before time for the meal arrives. R Daniel Braude (Learn Shabbos, p. 184) rules the same way. But it is not clear if they are addressing Jews or non-Jews.

To get to a decision, a rav would have to weigh on these different factors, and possibly combine some leniencies, e.g., maybe eggs and fruit are by now essential to oneg Shabbat and maybe borer is permitted in advance if it is done by a non-Jew.

  • 1
    If I ask a gentile to open a manual door do I need shvus dishvus oneg Shabbos? This post is confusing. here is no Amira leakum to ask a gentile to prepare a kiddush if taking good from bad and for that seuda as you have explained yourself.
    – yosefkorn
    Jan 21, 2019 at 21:33
  • 1
    @yosefkorn Opening a manual door is not a melacha. But it is not permitted for a Jew to peel eggs in advance of a meal, therefore not permitted to ask someone to do this melacha. The whole question of the OP is whether there is an issue of amira lakum when preparing in advance. You answered in bold there is no issue but didn't say why. If you had the why, it would be an answer and I would encourage you to post it
    – mbloch
    Jan 22, 2019 at 4:46

Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 319,1 specifies how to do borer on Shabbos permissibly:

ואם בירר בידו כדי לאכול לאלתר מותר:
Only if he separates with his hands (not with a specialized instrument) for eating straight away is permitted.

In the Rema Orach Chaim 319,1 explains the meanig "straight away":

הגה: וכל מה שבורר לצורך אותה סעודה שמיסב בה מיד מקרי לאלתר (המגיד פרק ח' ורבינו ירוחם נתיב י"ב חלק ח' ובית יוסף, וטור, ורא"ש)
Anything which was separated in a permissible manner for the sake of the upcoming meal is called "straight away"

The Biur Halacha says:

עיין במ"ב ועיין בספר תוספת ירושלים שהוכיח מן הירושלמי דבעינן לאלתר ממש ודלא כהרמ"א ונראה דמ"מ אין להחמיר בזה דדברי הרמ"א יש להם מקור מן הש"ס שלנו וכמו שהביא ראיה בביאור הגר"א
See the Sefer Tosfos Yerushalayim that proves from Talmud Yerushalmi that one can only separate in a permissible manner to eat straight away (not for the upcoming meal in a few hours) unlike the view of the Rema. But it seems that we do not need to be machmir to follow the Yerushalmi as the Rema has his sources from the Talmud Bavli which we follow in Halacha see the Biur HaGra.

In a lot of shuls nowadays the Ladies Guild prepares the Kiddush 1 or 2 hours sometimes even 3 hours before the Kiddush (e.g on Rosh Hashana). Those that can afford non-Jewish workers also prepare the Kiddush in advance for the upcoming Seuda i.e the Kiddush. So long as they are not preparing Shalosh Seudos in the morning before Kiddush, Jewish volunteers or Non-Jewish workers can prepare for the Kiddush coming up after davening several hours beforehand like the Pesak of the Rema, the Gra and the Biur Halacha as long as the Rabbi explains to the Jewish volunteers that the Food must be taken from its waste (except with peeling/cracking nuts as stated by questioner), and specialized implements should not be used. A gentile may do borer (the Jew should not provide special equipment or tell him to take the bad from the good) as if he could have achieved the same result in a permissible way*

*Note:If the gentiles decide to do Borer in a non permitted way since they could have done the same job in permitted way with the same results this is not called Amira Leakum as they are doing Borer for there own convenience see Shulchan Aruch 325,10 where it says if a Gentile does a Melacha for himself the Jew can benefit.

  • The final paragraph seems to resolve the whole issue. I can tell a Gentile "I need peeled eggs for kiddush at 11AM" He could choose to peel them at 10:55 AM in a way that doesn't violate borer. That he chooses to peel them at 9AM is his own decision. Similarly, if I need dishes washed, I can tell the Gentile to do it. If he uses hot water and a non-Shabbat sponge, that is his preference, since he could wash them in cold water with a Shabbat sponge.
    – Ze'ev
    Feb 21, 2020 at 15:21

I have now seen in the Food Service Mashgiach Guidebook from R Dovid Cohen of the CRC, pp. 127-128 that he answers your question and forbids it

Hand/manual peelers may be used "close to the team" for food to be used at that meal. For example, if the Shabbos morning seudah is scheduled for 11am and it takes 3 hours to prepare for that meal, 8-11am is considered "close to that meal" for that situation. Peelers could be used during that time for salads to be served at the morning seudah but peelers cannot be used ... before 8am. Non-Jews may dice vegetables finely if they do so "close to the team" for food to be used at that meal (as explained above).

Earlier (pp. 124-125) he explains

non-Jews can do melacha for their own benefit but not on a Jew's property, because people who see him doing the melacha will think the Jew specifically told him to do it on Shabbos. In this context, the areas of the kitchen which are not open to the public (the "back of the house") are NOT treated as being a "Jew's house".

So the final answer might depend whether or not the non-Jews doing the work are visible to the public.

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