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Thought for the Day: Arisus, S'chirus, Kablanus (Oh my!)

I have tried once again to understand how it works to permissibly partner with a goy to make money with your stuff on Shabbos.  I am writing it down quickly before that understanding all leaks out of my brain (again).  (I feel like Bones in the Star Trek episode "Spock's Brain", who went from "Even a child could do it!" to "It's impossible!" in 10 short minutes.  If you don't know what I am talking about... oh well.)  All of this is taken from the Mishna Brura's hakdama to siman 243; see there for elucidation and, of course, lots more details.

I find there are two main sources of confusion in that siman.  First, the word "s'chirus" (renting/leasing/etc) sometimes means the topic in general of partnering with a goy to use your stuff on Shabbos to make money, and sometimes means on the the three ways in which that can happen.  Second, there are two external issues (maris ayin and havla'a) that implicitly affect the halacha l'ma'aseh, but aren't stated explicitly.  We also don't really have good English words that capture all the shades of meaning, so I am going to use the terms Chazal did; it's better to use an unfamiliar word that is clear than a familiar words that comes with all sorts of confusing baggage.

One of those external issues comes up right away.  For any partnering to be permissible, some of the partnering must be done outside of Shabbos.  That way the money made on Shabbos is said to be "nivla" (absorbed/swallowed) into the money made during the week.  How and why that works is a whole topic in and of itself; maybe we'll take that up later.  For now it is just a requirement; part of the EULA.

What are the three ways of partnering?  The first way just uses the money made to create the partnership; the profit is split.  The split doesn't have to be 50:50, just that no external money is involved and the profit is shared.  That is called "arisus" and is permissible because the goy is working for his own benefit.  The other two ways involve a fixed sum of external money that has nothing to do with the profits.  When that fee goes to the Jew it is called "s'chirus".  Basically the goy is paying the Jew a fee in consideration of which the goy is allowed to use the Jew's stuff.  The goy is clearly working for himself in that case and it is permitted.  When that fee goes to the goy it is called "kablanus".  Here the goy doesn't make more money if he works harder (the fee is fixed), so he is considered and agent of the Jew and so is forbidden.

Arrangements of arisus (and even sometimes s'chirus) may be forbidden in certain situations because of maris ayin (I told you it would play a factor).  That is, if the arrangement looks like kablanus, then that particular arrangement often becomes forbidden because onlookers will suspect that the goy is acting as an agent of the Jew and not for his own benefit.

You've seen the pictures of the earth taken from the moon?  You can tell the earth has seas, land masses, and clouds; not much more.  That's about the level of detail here.  At least now when you go learn siman 243 you'll have a basic idea of the players.  Enjoy!

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