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My understanding is that Chilul Hashem - desecrating G-d's name can be caused when Gentiles have a negative opinion about Jews from observing wrong behavior, even if the behavior may be halachically permissible, but it causes them to have a negative impression.

Let's say that you have a Gentile co-worker in your office who is a "Shabbos Goy" for a Jewish family. It's summertime in the NY area and candle lighting is about 8:10. The Jewish family starts Shabbat early at 7 PM. As the Gentile is about to leave at 6:45 to go to her job, she sees that you are still at work, and says, "Aren't you supposed to go home, now? Shabbes is at 7!" You say, "Actually, Shabbes starts at 8:10, and I have time to go home. Your employer is starting Shabbes earlier at 7."

The Gentile gives you a look, and says, "Don't tell me that! My boss knows when Shabbes starts and he wants me to be there on time for his Shabbes! You're going to be late!"

So, now you gave her the impression that maybe it's OK for Jews to desecrate Shabbes based on whatever they feel like doing, and you gave her an "excuse".

Should you have just left early to avoid the problem, or can you ignore what she may think, as you know she is misinformed? Let's say you have an important work deadline to meet and you need to stay there a bit longer?

  • Opposite question: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/14142/… – Isaac Moses May 5 '15 at 20:22
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    This case, as constructed, sounds very highly specific, and the right thing to do in this specific case is likely dependent on other particularities of the case (e.g. your general practice, your community's standards, your relationship with the gentile, the importance of your job). I recommend that you make this question more general, e.g. "Is this sort of chilul Hashem something to take into account at all?" – Isaac Moses May 5 '15 at 20:25
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    Show her the luach saying that Shabbat starts at 8:10. ;) – Scimonster May 5 '15 at 20:25
  • I wouldnt call any of this chillul hashem. It is not his business how you keep mitvot. Chillul hashem is more like stealing etc. – cham May 5 '15 at 23:04
  • @cham I do not think you are correct about that - see my answer – Y     e     z May 19 '15 at 18:54
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In terms of the central question, namely does what a non-Jew incorrectly perceives as violating Halacha constitute a chillul Hashem, there is a Magen Avrohom (O.C. 244:8) which calls it a chillul Hashem to have non-Jews publicly do construction on your behalf because non-Jews do not have work done for them on their religion (and they therefore consider us to be violating our religion when we do so).

היה נראה להתיר לבנות בית הכנסת בשבת בקבלנות ומכל מקום ראיתי שהגדולים לא רצו להתירו כי בזמן הזה אין העכו”ם מניחין לשום אדם לעשות מלאכת פרהסיא ביום חגם ואם נניח אנחנו לעשות איכא חילול השם

So the concept of chillul Hashem can be extended to the faulty perceptions of Gentiles. As mentioned in another answer, the decision is not necessarily a binary one between ignoring her or catering to her misunderstanding, but leaving her to believe that a Jew is violating Halacha as she understands it could very well constitute a chillul Hashem.

The point of the Mogen Avrohom as understood by commentaries and later authorities is not that we should copy them, i.e. that because they do (or don't do) it therefore we should do (or not do) it too, but rather that because they perceive that their way of observing the Sabbath is the proper way to observe it, they see it as a disgrace to our Shabbos when we do (or don't do) it. The Machatzis HaShekel supercommentary on the Mogen Avrohom makes this point rather succinctly:

אין הנכרים מניחים לשום אדם כו’ ר”ל אפילו לישראל ולכל מי שאינו מאמונתם ואין מניחים לו לעשות מלאכה ביום אידם על כן נראה להם זה לגנאי וגרעון בדתם אם יעשה מלאכה ביום אידם אפילו מי שאינו מאנשי דתם אם כן אם אנו מניחים לעשות גוי מלאכה בשבת במה שאפשר לנו למונעו הרי נחשב בעיניהם זלזול ליום השבת ואיכא חס ושלום חילול השם יתברך

and R' Moshe Feinstein makes this point explicitly (quoted in Chelkas Yaakov E"H 17:1):

ומה שהביא כת”ה, מהמגן אברהם … לא מובן השייכות לענין זה, דהתם דהעכו”ם הם חוששין שגם אחרים עושין הוא חילול שבת, יאמרו שהיהודים אין שומרין שבת שנצטוו שזה חילול השם

(translation of bold) ... there, since the Gentiles take care that even others should not desecrate their Sabbath, they will say that the Jews do not keep the Sabbath that they were commanded in

R' Moshe argues that it is the perception of whether or not we keep our Shabbos which is the problem.

It should be noted that R' Breish, in the argument to which R' Moshe is responding (Chelkas Yaakov E"H 14:1), takes an even more expansive view of how far our responsibility to account for the sensitivities of Gentiles goes.

  • This is a nice source showing the opposite of Monica's point. I am wondering, though, if her suggestion, namely, "educating" the Gentile would solve the problem of Chilul Hashem in your case. I.e. - I don't think that there is a direct comparison between the construction case that you mentioned, which is a general practice among Gentiles, and the Gentile's misconception about various times of Shabbat observance, which is something that Gentiles do NOT imitate. Essentially, I'm not sure if your answer addresses my question. – DanF May 19 '15 at 18:40
  • @DanF I don't think my source shows the opposite of Monica's. Her point was a suggestion of how to circumvent the question. My source shows that the issue must be dealt with. The hypothetical point of distinction would be if it was for some reason impossible to communicate Monica's point to the Gentile, for whatever reason. (I actually think my answer addresses your question directly while Monica's obviates it without addressing it.) Your question of "can you just ignore what she may think" is answered by my post and not by Monica's – Y     e     z May 19 '15 at 18:48
  • @DanF And I'm not sure what you meant about "imitating" - the Mogen Avrohom has nothing to do with anyone imitating anyone else - it has to do with their perception of how Shabbos should be kept, which happens to be founded on how they keep their Sabbath. The general practice of Gentiles is not the operating principle - the attitude of Gentiles is. – Y     e     z May 19 '15 at 18:55
  • Ah! Yes, you are correct about that point. Thanks for explaining that. If you were able to educate the Gentile and their opinion changed, I don't think this would be Chilul Hashem. What appears vague to me, still, is whether the rule applies to "mass perception" vs. individual perception. Your case addresses mass perception. Mine addresses perception by 1 individual. (The "imitate" was a reference to the fact that Gentiles do not observe Shabbat as we do.) – DanF May 19 '15 at 18:56
  • @DanF See R' Moshe quoted in Chelkas Yaakov Even Ha'ezer 17:1 - the Mogen Avrohom is not because that's how they keep their "Shabbos", but it's how they think we should be keeping ours. So their lack of this detail in their "Shabbos" is irrelevant. – Y     e     z May 20 '15 at 20:06
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You can avoid any concerns about chillul Hashem by intercepting and correcting the negative impression your gentile coworker has of you.

The problem here is an education gap, which you can fix. Your coworker believes that Shabbat starts at a particular time and that this is when all Jews start it. He took your "they're starting early" to mean "they're wrong", as suggested in his response. But that's not really what's going on. As you know (but he does not), halacha allows one to accept Shabbat early, and this is what the family is doing. Your coworker doesn't know anything about starting Shabbat early and so assumes, erroneously, that you are in danger of transgressing.

So take the opportunity to teach him in a non-judgemental way. There is nothing wrong with accepting Shabbat early and there is nothing wrong with not doing so; it's just a family difference. In particular, if the family he serves starts early, he should not try to "correct" their practice. Explain that he needs to be there at 7, you need to be home by 8, and neither of you is doing anything wrong.

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