Consider the following theoretical case.

A Jew owns a number of supermarkets where he pays a set monthly fee to a service company that has non-Jewish workers come by and make regular check-ups on the refrigerators used in the store. The workers will come of course if something is broken and are called for it; however, they also come from time to time to check how things are working, whether anything is broken, etc. They can even come by when the store is closed: they have the key to the store. Their instructions are that, if they discover something broken on one of these inspection visits, they should fix it on the spot. The fridges obviously run all the time, including on Shabbos when the store is closed, and if they stopped working then the food stored within would go bad, resulting in a big hefsed (loss).

Is it okay to have the non-Jewish workers lichatchila come by on Shabbos, even if they might have to fix something if they discover a broken fridge? Could a reason be since they are paid a set amount on a monthly basis? Or perhaps the fact that if they don't come inspect and fix the fridge it would lead to a big loss?

(I'm asking only with respect to laws of Shabbos. Ignore laws of, for example, kashrus.)

  • Are you telling them to come on Saturday or are they choosing to?
    – Double AA
    Jun 30, 2013 at 21:20
  • @DoubleAA They choose to. However they are not being told to not come.
    – Yehoshua
    Jun 30, 2013 at 21:22
  • 1
    Are you asking only with regard to hilchos Shabas or also with regard to hilchos basar shenis'alem min haayin?
    – msh210
    Jun 30, 2013 at 23:58
  • @msh210 Hilchos Shabbos
    – Yehoshua
    Jul 1, 2013 at 9:38
  • So long as non-Jews do the work and the owner is keeping Shabbat, they may come and fix it on Shabbat because the owner is still keeping Shabbat.
    – Jonathan
    Feb 21, 2020 at 21:04

2 Answers 2


This case is similar to the idea of sending mail on erev shabbos when we know that it will be picked up by the mail carrier on Shabbos. This question is addressed by the Shulchan Arukh. From the article Sending Mail before Shabbos by Aryeh Lebowitz:

A. Regular mail. The Shulchan Aruch 247:1 explicitly rules that when there are predetermined postal fees one may drop a letter in a mailbox on Friday. This is true even if the letter is placed in the mailbox immediately prior to the onset of Shabbat. The Mishna Berura (ibid.:3) explains that this is even permissible of the postman guarantees next day delivery because the decision to deliver it on Shabbat is purely in the hands of the non-Jew.

Our situation is analogous. As long as we do not tell the repair-man that he must come on Shabbos, there is no problem if he elects to do his job on Saturday.


In Shulchan Orach, Orach Chayim 244, there is a discussion of work done on premises of a Jew over Shabbat. If it is publicly observeable, the Jew may not hire the non-Jew to do the work on Shabbat and must instruct him not to do it on Shabbat. The fridge may well be connected to the ground, and then definitely prohibited to fix on Shabbat (see seif 2 there), but even if not, it is large and may be comparable to the boat mentioned in seif 4. In both of those cases, the discussion is about doing the work on the Gentile's premises, where it is known that the item being worked on belongs to a Jew. Doing the work on the Jew's premises is more strict, as evident in seif 1.

If this supermarket is known in the community to be under Jewish ownership, it seems it is prohibited to let the fridge repair man come on Shabbat.

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