I Understand that a Jew is not allowed to ask a Gentile to do work for him specifically on Shabbat.

Thus, one cannot bring a car to the Gentile mechanic on Friday and tell him specifically, "Fix my car, tomorrow, because I will need it Sat. night."

However, a Jew is allowed to violate Shabbat for his or someone else's life-threatening situations.

So let's say Hatzalah (the Jewish ambulance corp) has two ambulances. If an emergency occurred on Shabbat, they have one that they can use, but, having both available obviously, makes things more efficient. as it's certainly possible to have multiple emergencies at the same time.

One ambulance broke down just before Shabbat. The Jew brings the ambulance to the Gentile mechanic and tells him, "I need you to fix this on Shabbat, and call me as soon as you can, because we need it pronto."

Is this a "life threatening" situation exemption that would allow the Gentile to do the work? Furthermore, when the ambulance is fixed, can another Jewish Hatzalah member drive someone on Shabbat to the mechanic so that he can get the ambulance?

To ponder: At the moment, no life threatening situation exists (not even a doubtful one). But, an ambulance needs to always be ready.

  • I would expect that this kind of question is addressed a great deal in the responsa literature generated by Israeli hospitals, military, police, and other vital public services. – Isaac Moses Nov 13 '15 at 17:04
  • @IsaacMoses Hmm .. you listed some other areas that I hadn't considered, particularly the army. I'm expanding / editing my question to ask if even a Jew, himself can fix the ambulance. I'll leave it at just that, for now. I think areas such as the army, may create a bit too much "clutter" in one question, for now. Actually, on 2nd thought, it seems that the Jew himself, should be allowed to fix his own ambulance on Shabbat, no? – DanF Nov 13 '15 at 17:29
  • According to dafdigest.org quoting the Chazon Ish in the column "Stories off the Daf" a Jew would be forbidden from doing the repair himself. – Gershon Gold Nov 13 '15 at 17:35
  • @GershonGold I have to read your link, after Shabbat. Offhand, that somewhat surprises me. Normally, I understand that there has to be a current situation which would obviously allow fixing the ambulance. But an ambulance is a necessary item needed immediately to save lives. I guess the "immediacy" rule is exactly that in all situations. – DanF Nov 13 '15 at 17:50
  • At some point, it becomes too 'disconnected' from Pikuach Nefesh to overrule Shabbos. We don't say one can work on Shabbos, since then he'll have money to support his family, and they won't starve to death. I don't see it as that far-fetched to say that we wouldn't be allowed to fix the second ambulance for that reason (and possibly even the first). Since the Pikuach Nefesh isn't currently happening, and there are other options if a situation does come up, we don't push off Shabbos so easily. Granted, your question is asking about asking a gentile to fix it, which isn't the same situation. – Salmononius2 Nov 13 '15 at 18:00

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