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On a recent Friday night, we were coming out of a house and the stairs to come down to the street were quite dark. When opening the gate between the end of the stairs and the street, I noticed a car was parked opposite the house, engine running and its lights were very helpful to light up the path coming down the stairs. Since this is Israel, I assume the driver was a non-observant Jew.

Is this creating an issue of profiting from forbidden work on Shabbat? Should I have closed the door to avoid that light until the car had left?

Does it make a difference if we would have been able to come down the stairs anyway (and the car light only made it more convenient) or if it would have been more risky to do so without light?

  • Possible duplicate judaism.stackexchange.com/q/14726/759 – Double AA Sep 5 '18 at 19:32
  • Is this "benefit" in the halachical sense of the term? We are fully permitted to enjoy the smell of non-kosher food cooking, even milk and meat mixtures, this may be analagous to that – Josh K Sep 5 '18 at 19:59
  • @DoubleAA thanks for this - I had seen this once already (since I upvoted it). The challenge in the question above is that it is a purposeful violation by a Jew but (1) no one hinted/asked him, (2) it is creating an issue for the other Shabbat observers and (3) it is only helpful to accomplish an action (going down the stairs) but we would have done it anyway even without the light. Still wondering if it was permitted to benefit from the car's lights under these circumstances. Your linked answer suggests not - might be the answer – mbloch Sep 6 '18 at 3:09
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    @mboch 1 and 2 are irrelevant. Your Kula may come from 3 if you walk down the stairs slowly as if it were dark, or in declaring his action Shogeg using some sort of Tinok Shenishba reasoning, though in Israel it's common knowledge that driving a car on Shabbat is forbidden so that's a questionable application of that – Double AA Sep 6 '18 at 10:46
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    @josh the general rule is קול מראה וריח אין בהם משום מעילה but mareh means enjoying a pretty picture, not using the light to see which is definitely a problem (unless arguably if there is sufficient other light already). – Double AA Sep 6 '18 at 17:43
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See Yalkut Yosef Shabbat 318:40 and Shabbat 3 page 62 that describes a similar situation where a guest in a building on shabbat noticed that a Jew turned on the lights in the hall and permitted walking regularly because he could do so without the light that was turned on by the Jew. However, he wrote that one who is stringent, tavo alav habracha.

See below:

המתגורר בבית דירות שיש בו שכנים שאינם שומרי תורה ומצוות, ואחד השכנים הדליק את האור בליל שבת בחדר המדרגות, מותר לעלות במדרגות, ואינו צריך להמתין עד שהאור יכבה, או לעצום את עיניו. ואף אם השכן עשה זאת במזיד במיוחד לצורך שכנו שהוא שומר תורה ומצוות, גם בזה מותר לעלות במדרגות, שהרי גם בלא האור היה יכול לעלות במדרגות. ובלבד שלא ימהר בהליכתו, וגם לא יעשה איזה דבר הנצרך לאור, וכגון לבדוק את מפתח הבית מתוך יתר המפתחות שבצרור, כדי שלא יהנה ממלאכת שבת. והמחמיר על עצמו להמתין עד שאור החשמל יכבה, כדי שלא ייראה הדבר כחילול ה' שיהודי שומר תורה ומצוות נהנה מחשמל שהודלק באיסור בשבילו, תבוא עליו ברכה. [ילקו''י שבת כרך ג עמוד סב]

However, I personally have a problem with this because seeing better is a tangible benefit of melechet shabbat. I would feel more comfortable closing my eyes and holding the railings while walking slowly to reject any benefit. I'm sure there may be cholkim on this psak(specifically among the European poskim); however, one who wished to rely on it surely has what to rely on.

Please note that this hora'ah may not apply to other cases of chilul shabbat. For actual questions, contact your Rav.

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