In a situation where אמירה לעכו"ם (telling a non-Jew to do something for a Jew, which the Jew is forbidden to do) is permitted, if a person goes to a non Jew and asks him to do it, how can he be sure that the person he is talking to is truly a Goy? As long as there is even one Jew that lives in a fixed dwelling in that city (who looks like a non Jew), every person should be a questionable Jew because of Kol Kavuah Kemechtza al mechtza?

See HERE for explanation of the term "Kol Kavuah Kemechtza al mechtza"

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    You ask him this question, and if (s)he is truly confused, (s)he is not a Jew! :-D May 14, 2018 at 14:28
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    @Kazibácsi Something hinted that you were going to suggest something like this. Reality is, it's sometimes amazing that "ignorant" Gentiles sometimes know more about a subject than Talmidei Chachamim. These days, it seems that the definition of am ha'aretz may need to revert back to its original definition!
    – DanF
    May 14, 2018 at 14:38
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    @DanF I don't know precisely these halakhot, but can't you ask this person, whether (s)he was a Jew? May 14, 2018 at 14:40
  • I think that the only sure way to know is to inquire who is mother was. Of course, it's possible that his mom may have also been Jewish and not known that. If you want to have some certainty, you can, perhaps, delve back 3 or 4 generations. If they're all McClure's, etc., chances are going back 3 or 4 generations may provide consistency.
    – DanF
    May 14, 2018 at 14:42
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    A formerly religious Jew that I know, was walking in a predominantly Jewןsh neighborhood. Externally, he looks like a non-Jew. Someone stopped him in the street on Shabbos, and asked him to do some melacha for him. He answered him back in Yiddish, and said to him, "און וואס איז מיט אמירה לעכו"ם?" Aug 12, 2018 at 17:28

1 Answer 1


Maseches Kesubos 15b says we can go after the majority of types of people in the city. So if most of the population is Gentile, in a case where someone who looks gentile is found in the street he can be a Shabbos Goy as we follow the Majority:

מצא בה תינוק מושלך אם רוב עובדי כוכבים עובד כוכבי' אם רוב ישראל ישראל מחצה על מחצה ישראל

Even if the Gentile is in his house in a City of mostly Jews, if you ask him "are you Jewish" and he says "no" you can rely on him as a Shabbos Goy. this is because Most people who say they are not Jewish are genuinely not Jewish this is רוב- Majority. We are not worried about the minority who are Jewish and pretending to be Gentiles (whom we cannot ask to break Shabbos) because they are NOT Kavua as Tosfos Nazir 12a explains:

לא אמרינן קבוע כמחצה דמי אלא כשהאיסור ניכר לעצמו וההיתר ניכר לעצמו אבל כשאין האיסור ניכר לעצמו לא אמרינן קבוע
We do not say "Someone fixed is like 50/50" in a case where we cannot specifically locate the fixed person (i.e we cannot pinpoint where these self denying Jews homes are)"

So, since someone hiding his Jewishness is not Kavua as he cannot be located, we can rely that the person being asked to do a Melacha (CYLOR only specific Melachos are permitted by a Goy) if he/she says he/she is a Gentile based on "majority"(i.e majority of people who say they aren't Jewish are not Jewish).


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