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Thought for the Day: What You Are Permitted Ask a Non-Jew to Do for You on Shabbos

Hey!  This is way cool.  I just found there is now Halchapedia (tada)!  I can't say how reliable it is, but at first blush it looks pretty good; as always, your mileage may vary.  Shulchan Aruch OC Siman 307 details the the halachos that come out of the navi's exhortation that the way you speak on Shabbos should be different than the way you speak during the week; aka "daber davar".  This is one of the first place the topic of what you can ask/tell a goy to do for you on Shabbos.

There are (of course; this is halacha) oodles of details, but the basic premise is: If you can't do it on Shabbos, then you can't tell a goy to do it on Shabbos.  Yes, I left that intentionally readable two ways: on Shabbos, you may not tell the goy to do it, even to do it after Shabbos.  Even before Shabbos, you can't tell the goy do the it on Shabbos.  On Shabbos you most certainly cannot tell the goy to do something on Shabbos.  You also (mostly) can't hint; though that's one of the details.  Here are a few things you can do.

After Shabbos you can say, "Hey, Bob!  Why didn't you frazzle the doodad last Shabbos?"  Why would you want to do that and what is the hava amina that you wouldn't be able to say that?  Let's suppose that that it is a very common occurrence that the doodad looses raster and needs to be frazzled; and wouldn't you know, it almost always happens on Shabbos!  So you give Bob the business after Shabbos so that he'll take the hint and not let your doodad go unfrazzled again.

Generally speaking it doesn't matter why you can't do it on Shabbos... d'oraisa, d'rabanan, or even the dreaded uvda d'chol... assur is assur.  However, if it is only assur because of minhag, but not mei'ikar ha'din, then you are allowed to ask the goy to do it.  The only it that I know clearly falls in this category is that some have the minhag to not put something in their pockets, even in the house, that can't be carried outside.  You could certainly tell Bob to put a bunch of silverware in his pocket (I hope you trust Bob), even though you yourself are much to frum to do such a thing.

Here's another goody: if it is a matter of dispute among the poskim and those who are machmir hold that it is assur d'rabanan -- but not d'oraisa, then you can ask Bob to do it.  The only example I could conjure up is opening  soda bottles that have a plastic cap.  Those who don't open such bottle caps could ask Bob to open it for them.  Please note that metal caps, which are formed on the bottle and only become keilim after they are screwed off (by breaking apart the bottom margin) violates the issur d'oraiso of makeh b'patish.  Also, you certainly cannot use Shmendrick as your Shabbos goy to open bottles for you; though you can drink from the bottle after he has opened it for himself.  (Just be sure you are honest with yourself.  Aaargh... FINE!!)

This last one is a tzarich iyun from R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.  May you ask a goy -- on Shabbos -- to separate good from bad by hand after Shabbos to be used for the next day?  On the one hand, the basic activity is not in and of itself forbidden; it's only after the fact of waiting that the issur of borer has been violated.  On the other hand, it is, after all, the m'lacha d'oraisa of borer.

See why I get up early?  Who can sleep with things like that on his mind??


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