My understanding is that a Jew can have a non-Jew perform melacha for him only if s/he benefits from it, and providing that a Jew has not specifically instructed him / her regarding doing the melacha.

Let's say a non-Jewish aide is assisting a Jew walking to shul in a non-Eruv area. I'm mentioning two types of items specifically, as they have their own nuances:

  • May the Jew have the non-Jew carry the Jew's tallit for him? S/he will not need the tallit, so it is clearly not for her use. Would it be permissible if s/he took the tallit on her own vs. if someone instructed her to take the tallit? The tallit is a d'var mitzvah (object used for performance of a mitzvah). Does this therefore make it permissible to be carried for him?

  • House keys. Assume that the non-Jew needs to enter the house, anyway, so it is for his / her use. Would it matter if someone said to him / her "Take the house keys!" on Shabbat.

Clarification based on comments

  • I am aware that telling a Gentile to do something is prohibited. However, I am unclear if this rule applies in the following situations:

    • If the rules of what you need done are explained to the Gentile before Shabbat as part of the task that she needs to do on Shabbat. In the case, above, say you hired the Gentile in advance to assist the person walking to shul. When s/he comes on Friday to your home, you say, "Walk my father to shul and carry his tallis."
    • If carrying a davar shel mitzvah can be done by a Gentile even if requested of him / her on Shabbat
    • If s/he sees the tallis on the table and decides on his/her own to carry it for you. Within this, s/he is carrying something that is not for his/her personal use.
  • Re the house keys, this is for his/ her personal use. Similar questions as above apply:

    • Is it all right if she carries it, if instructions to that effect are given before Shabat?
    • Can you tell her, on Shabbat to take the keys?
    • Does it matter if you phrase the request as "Take the keys so I can get in" or "Take the keys so you can get in" (and I benefit from what you need)?

Re carmelit - I am unclear regarding exactly what it means and how this affects the answer. If you wish, please clarify this in your answer.


1 Answer 1


To put it quick: There are 3 issurim which come into play with someone doing Melocha for you:

  1. Amira - speaking, or instructing to do melocha;
  2. Benefeting - deriving from melocha which was done for you;
  3. Shliach - that is having melocha done for you (even if you don't benefit, or instructed anyone).

So in order to avoid transgression one has to make sure all 3 points are circumvented.

How to work-around these issurim:

  1. Circumvention for Amira. - you can tell a story instead of instruction, for example "Ah, lights in bedroom are on! I can't sleep" instead of "Turn off the lights!".
  2. Circumvention for Benefeting. - for example melocha which produce absence of something. so benefiting from turning lights off, is NOT ossur.
  3. Circumvention for Shliach. - Make sure non-Jew is acting for his own benefit. To achieve that you can pay for his services, or give him bottle of bear.

as heard in person from Rav Pesach Eliyahu Falk, shlita.

p.s. I am not quoting, I am re-telling my understanding of shiur.


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