Is one allowed to train an animal to do malacha on shabbas (e.g. turn on a light)?

Is it comparable to amira l'nochri (telling a non-Jew to do so), or do we say its mutar altogether?

  • 2
    We are commanded that our animals should also rest on Shabbat, while we are not commanded to ensure that a non-jewish stranger must rest. (your non-jewish slaves and servants also must rest)
    – Menachem
    Oct 18, 2013 at 8:39
  • @Menachem So what if this is a wild squirrel that comes to visit on shabbas and makes you a pot of coffee? Oct 18, 2013 at 14:41
  • @CharlesKoppelman: I would argue that if you've trained a wild squirrel it is no longer a wild squirrel.
    – Menachem
    Oct 18, 2013 at 16:09
  • See the wikipedia article on מְחַמֵּר.
    – Fred
    Oct 18, 2013 at 17:07
  • @Menachem This has always confused me greatly. We hear this all the time, but we also hear that non-Jews are forbidden from keeping Shabbos because it's a special os for the Jewish people. What's the deal??
    – SAH
    Aug 10, 2018 at 9:21

1 Answer 1


Exodus (23:12) states:

לְמַ֣עַן יָנ֗וּחַ שֽׁוֹרְךָ֙ וַחֲמֹרֶ֔ךָ

This teaches (cf. Yerushalmi Betsah 5:2, Rambam's Hilhkot Shabbat 6:16) that animals may not be used for melakha on Shabbat. This ruling is found in the Shulhan Arukh (OH 246:3) as well.

Additionaly, R. Ben-Tsion Abba-Shaul writes (Ohr L'tsiyon I: OH 23) that the rule of amira l'nokhri applies to commanding an animal as well.

  • Does it make a difference if it is their designated מלאכה or not? Because if it is not that may be a שינוי.
    – Al Berko
    Aug 8, 2018 at 13:05
  • Interesting. I can see extensions of these similarities. What if your dog is trained to go to the store to get your daily newspaper? It will be carrying on Shabbat to benefit you. But you didn't specifically tell your dog on Shabbat to get you the paper. It just knows to do this daily. Is this OK?
    – DanF
    Aug 8, 2018 at 14:14

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