I read in Kitzur Shulcah Aruch (סימן צ - דין עשית חפציו בלא מלאכה ומלאכה על ידי גוי) that even if a person prepays a Gentile before Shabbat, he cannot tell him to specifically do work for him specifically on Shabbat. There is a rule that a Gentile cannot do work specifically for you without having some benefit for himself.

Let's say you tell the Gentile, "I am paying you a flat fee for the winter season. Whenever there is a lot of snow, I want you to shovel or plow my driveway." It snows on Shabbat. Can the Gentile shovel or plow your driveway in this situation? He gains no personal benefit from shovelling the snow, but, in this case, you did not specifically say that he must come and work on Shabbat, either. He showed up because it happened to snow that day.

  • You ask "Can the Gentile shovel or plow your driveway in this situation?" but the answer, which you approved of, addresses what the Jew can/must do. Perhaps the question needs an edit? (Fwiw I strongly suspect there's no restriction on the gentile's shoveling whenever he wishes.) – msh210 Feb 13 '15 at 0:00
  • @nsh210 - You raise a valid point. It doesn't address 2 possibilities. 1 - If he shovels anyway even after you try to prevent him and 2 - If he shovels while you're not around to prevent him. I'll have to think if this warrents editing or a follow-up. – DanF Feb 13 '15 at 3:38
  • @msh210 after thinking this over, I think the answer given is satisfactory. If he says that you must prevent the Gentile from doing the work, it implies both before as well as after he shows up. I.e. - the Gentile cannot shovel the snow under this arrangement unless there is a monetary loss, which would be known in advance, anyway. As I commented to the question, there is a gray area of what "monetary loss" means. – DanF Feb 13 '15 at 4:09
  • Well obviously you're not going to be using the driveway until Sunday, but to me it might be more convenient for me to do it Saturday than Sunday so if it were me shoveling I might well get my own benefit by not waiting another day. – Joshua Jan 3 '16 at 5:40
  • @Joshua " until Sunday" - The Jew's Sunday, or the Gentile's Sunday? – DanF Jan 3 '16 at 18:52

I think the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch answers your question in the following paragraphs.

The paragraph you quote says:

סעיף י"ד: כָּל דָּבָר שֶׁהַיִשְֹרָאֵל אָסוּר לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ, אָסוּר לוֹמַר לְאֵינוֹ יְהוּדִי לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ, דַּאֲמִירָה לְאֵינוֹ יְהוּדִי הֲוֵי שְׁבוּת. וַאֲפִלּוּ לִרְמוֹז לוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ, אָסוּר. וַאֲפִלּוּ לוֹמַר לוֹ קֹדֶם שַׁבָּת שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה בַּשַׁבָּת, גַּם כֵּן אָסוּר. וְכֵן אָסוּר לוֹמַר לְאֵינוֹ יְהוּדִי בַּשַׁבָּת שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה לְאַחַר שַׁבָּת. וְדָבָר זֶה אֵינוֹ מִשּׁוּם שְׁבוּת, כֵּיוָן דְּהַמְּלָאכָה נַעֲשֵׂית בִּשְׁעַת הֶתֵּר, אֶלָּא אָסוּר מִשּׁוּם מִמְּצוֹא חֶפְצְךָ. וְלָכֵן לְצֹרֶךְ מִצְוָה מֻתָּר (ש"ו ש"ז). ‏

I.e. If you can't do it, you cannot ask the non-Jew to do it, even before Shabbat.

The next paragraph then says:

סעיף ט"ו: אֲפִלּוּ אִם הַנָּכְרִי בָּא מֵעַצְמוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת אֵיזֶה מְלָאכָה בִּשְׁבִיל יִשְֹרָאֵל, צָרִיךְ הַיִשְֹרָאֵל לִמְחוֹת בּוֹ. וְלָכֵן אֵינוֹ יְהוּדִי שֶׁרוֹצֶה לְהָסִיר הַפֶּחָם מִנֵּרוֹת שֶׁל יִשְֹרָאֵל כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּדְלִיקוּ יָפֶה, צְרִיכִין לִמְחוֹת בּוֹ.

Even if the non-Jew comes of his own accord, you have to prevent him from doing anything you are not allowed to do. (All the more so if you actually paid him to come when needed.)

However, as we see in the following paragraph, that if a considerable monetary loss is involved, then one may hint to the non-Jew that he has something to gain by helping you. However, you may not explicitly tell him to do anything you may not do.

So if you risk getting fined - and it's a non-trivial amount - for not clearing the sidewalk, then it would seem you can pay a non-Jew a flat fee for the winter season, and he will come whenever expected.

סעיף ט"ז: אִם רוֹאֶה אָדָם שֶׁיּוּכַל לָבוֹא לִידֵי הֶפְסֵד, כְּגוֹן שֶׁנִּתְרוֹעֲעָה לוֹ חָבִית שֶׁל יַיִן וְכַדּוֹמֶה, מֻתָּר לִקְרוֹת לְנָכְרִי לְשָׁם, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהַנָּכְרִי בְּוַדַּאי יְתַקְּנוֹ, וַאֲפִלּוּ בִּמְלָאכָה גְּמוּרָה, וּבִלְבַד שֶׁיִּזָּהֵר הַיִשְֹרָאֵל שֶׁלֹּא לוֹמַר לוֹ שׁוּם רֶמֶז צִוּוּי לְתַקֵּן. אֲבָל מֻתָּר לוֹמַר לְפָנָיו, כָּל מִי שֶׁיַּצִּיל הֶפְסֵד זֶה, לֹא יַפְסִיד שְׂכָרוֹ. וְאֵין לַעֲשׂוֹת זֹאת אֶלָא בִּמְקוֹם הֶפְסֵד מְרֻבֶּה (ש"ז). ‏

  • So basically, it's only OK if he's going to be fined if the snow isn't cleared. – Scimonster Feb 11 '15 at 8:52
  • @Cnsersmoit - Correct. And the fine will be a considerable amount (for the person in question.) A discussion of this concept of Major Loss can be found here judaism.stackexchange.com/q/52950/501 – Danny Schoemann Feb 11 '15 at 8:55
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    +1 for the thorough answer. At the same time, the grey area may be "personal" monetary loss. If he doesn't shovel the driveway, I may slip on the snow and injure myself, be out of work and I will lose money. Is that considered "monetary loss"? – DanF Feb 11 '15 at 14:10

If the shoveling is being done for safety, ie, to make a path for people to walk without slipping, not only is the non-Jew allowed to do so, but the Jew can do so as well.

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya. Could you edit into your answer how you know this? – Monica Cellio Apr 24 '15 at 1:27

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