The following article is based on an actual in depth and detailed ‘limud‘ that the STAR-K Kollel Chabura conducted during the past zman.
Scenario #1: It’s the afternoon of the second day of Pesach; your house is a hurricane – dishes are piled up to the ceiling, stains are all over the tablecloths, the floors are sticky and you need some serious help. You have a live-in maid. The trouble is, you’re very uncertain as to what you can ask her to do and what is and isn’t halachically permissible. Can she be asked to run the dishwasher, wash the floor or take out the garbage?
Scenario #2: It’s the afternoon of the second day of Pesach; your house is a hurricane – dishes are piled up to the ceiling, stains are all over the tablecloths, the floors are sticky and you need some serious help. You have your weekly cleaning lady coming in. The trouble is, you’re very uncertain as to what you can ask her to do and what is and isn’t halachically permissible. Can she be asked to run the dishwasher, wash the floor or take out the garbage?
Are these two scenarios equal?
Let us start at the source. The Shulchan Aruch tells us that instructing an Aino Yehudi to perform a melachah – an activity which a Jew may not carry out on Shabbos or Yom Tov – is forbidden.1 This rabbinic prohibition (known as ם”וכעל הרימא) was instituted for two reasons:
- שליחות – Agency: Generally, an Aino Yehudi is not halachically considered an agent of a Jew. However, with respect to אמירה לעכו”ם – acting on behalf of a Jew – Chazal were stringent and considered an Aino Yehudi to be an agent of a Jew.2 Halachically, an act carried out through an agent is equal to an act performed by the principal. Even if the Aino Yehudi was asked on a weekday to perform a melachah on Shabbos, it would be prohibited as he is acting as the Jew’s agent.3
- ודבר דבר – One’s manner of speech on Shabbos cannot be the same as during the week.4 Therefore, on Shabbos it is forbidden to tell an Aino Yehudi to perform a melachah, even if the instructions were to be carried out by the Aino Yehudi on a weekday.5
Regarding the prohibition of אמירה לעכו”ם, halacha differentiates between whether the Aino Yehudi is contracted to do a job or a project for a fixed charge (known as a קבלן) or is paid by the hour or by the day for his work (known as a שכיר יום).
A קבלן is one who is hired to provide a service or a finished product (e.g., cleaning a suit, fixing a car, sewing a dress, etc.) for a fixed price, irrespective of whether he works on Shabbos.6 Once the קבלן has accepted the project upon himself, he is halachically considered to be acting in his own self-interest to finish the task to which he committed himself.7 Although the קבלן is working on Shabbos, he is working of his own volition to finish the job. A day laborer, שכיר יום, who will be paid specifically for his work on Shabbos is halachically considered to be acting on behalf of the Jew and is, therefore, forbidden to work on behalf of a Jew on Shabbos.8
A live-in domestic is generally considered a קבלן, since she has accepted the position of housekeeper for a specified period of time – a year, month or week – and is paid a set wage instead of an hourly rate.9 Therefore, it is not considered אמירה לעכו”ם if the Aino Yehudi decides of her own volition to finish a job of Shabbos.
It is generally forbidden to have melachah performed by an Aino Yehudi on the property of a Jew.10 This is due to the concern of מראת עין; it looks as though the Jew told the Aino Yehudito work for him. Even though instructing a live-in maid is not אמירה לעכו”ם because she is considered a קבלן, nevertheless it should be forbidden to have her perform melachahon the property of a Jew due to the concern of מראת עין. Therefore, many contemporary Poskim feel that a live-in maid may not do any melachah onShabbosfor a Jew. However, RebMoshe Feinstein, zt”l,paskenedthat a live-in maid may perform melachahin a Jew’s house if the following conditions are met:11
- She is instructed from the beginning that she is not required to do these chores on Shabbos.
Even a קבלן cannot be instructed by a Jew to specifically perform melachah on Shabbos. This is known as קובע מלאכתו בשבת.
- There is no מראת עין, appearance of wrongdoing.
Any type of melachah which is not part of the cleaning lady’s daily routine would be forbidden for her to perform on Shabbos. This is due to the appearance of wrongdoing, as it would appear as if she was instructed to perform the melachah specifically on Shabbos. Even though the קבלן was not actually instructed to perform the melachah, the concern of מראת עין would apply.12
- There is no זלזול שבת, cheapening of the sanctity of Shabbos.
Any melachah that is degrading when done on Shabbos is forbidden (e.g., garden work, washing windows, etc.). Furthermore, melachos which attract attention because they are noisy (e.g., vacuuming, running a dishwasher or dryer, etc.) are also included in this exception and may not be performed on Shabbos.13
- There is no prohibited benefit.
Chazal forbade deriving benefit from any melachah which is performed by an Aino Yehudi for a Jew on Shabbos, even if he did it of his own accord without any request from the Jew.14 For example, a Jew should not derive benefit if a cleaning lady turned on the lights in a dark basement. Chazal were concerned that if a benefit was permitted, one may come to request this type of activity from an Aino Yehudi outright in the future.15 However, if an Aino Yehudi turned off a light on Shabbos, a Jew may go to sleep in that room even though he is deriving benefit from the lack of light (because a lack of light is not a direct benefit). Additionally, when there already exists enough light in the room to perform activities (e.g., eat, read, etc.), and an Aino Yehudi lit additional light, a Jew may derive benefit from that light. This is because making it a little easier to see is not considered a substantial benefit; only significant האנה was forbidden by Chazal.16
Based upon what we have explained, a live-in maid would be permitted to: 1) wash dishes, even if it is being done for after Shabbos or Yom Tov; 2) wash floors; 3) fold laundry; 4) take out the garbage; 5) clean the house, even if it is being done for after Shabbos or Yom Tov; 6) extinguish lights or candles.17
The halacha would not be the same for a part-time cleaning lady. This is because she is being paid by the hour and is halachically considered to be acting on behalf of her employer. Generally speaking, one cannot allow a part-time cleaning lady to do anything that one is not permitted to do himself.18 However, there are a number of things one can ask the cleaning lady to do:
- One may tell the cleaning lady to do something if it could be done in a permissible way. There is no need to intervene if she chooses to do it in a way which is forbidden, as long as there is no zilzul Shabbos.19
One may, therefore, ask a cleaning lady to wash the dishes as long as he says, “I don’t mind if you use cold water.” It would not be necessary to stop her if she chooses to use hot water with a sponge. Similarly, one may request that she wash the floor if he says, “I don’t mind if you just pour water and then dry it”, even though she will probably use a mop.20
- שבות דשבות – Asking an Aino Yehudi to perform an activity which is prohibited by rabbinic ordinance is permitted in the following circumstances: a) Mitzvah – For the purpose of a mitzvah. For example, one may ask a cleaning lady to carry a sefer or talis across the street to someone in another house, even if there is no eruv in place. b) Great necessity – For example, if someone is locked out of his house, he may ask an Aino Yehudi to break the lock in order to regain entry.21 c) הפסד מרובה – A large loss is expected. For instance, if someone is worried that something expensive may be stolen, he may ask an Aino Yehudi to move it to a safe place22 (provided he doesn’t need to transport the item through a רשות הרבים). d) Slight illness – One may ask an Aino Yehudi to apply liquid medication to a gauze pad and place it on a wound.23 (In the case of total body illness, חולה כל גופו, one may ask an Aino Yehudi to perform even a מלאכה דאורייתא).24
- פסיק רישא – One may ask an Aino Yehudi to perform a permitted activity, even though he knows that a מלאכה דאורייתא will inevitably occur.25 For instance, one may ask an Aino Yehudi to open a refrigerator door even though he knows the lightbulb will turn on automatically.26 Similarly, one may ask an Aino Yehudi to take out ice from the icemaker, even though it will automatically turn on the icemaker to produce more ice. The rationale in both cases is that the Jew asked the Aino Yehudi to perform a permitted activity and the subsequent melachah, which is not an inherent part of the request, is not included within the prohibition of אמירה לעכו”ם27.
The laws of םוכעל הרימא are intricate, and small details can affect the halachic outcome. It is always recommended to consult a competent rabbi for further guidance.
- גמ’ שבת דף קנ ע”א ושו”ע סי’ ש”ז סעי’ ב
- רש”י ב”מ דף עא ע”ב ד”ה אדעתא, וכן ברש”י שבת דף קנג ע”א ד”ה מאי טעמא
- עי’ שו”ת אבני נזר או”ח סי’ מ”ג אות ו’
- ישעיה נח,יג
- רש”י ע”ז דף טו ע”א ד”ה כיון דזבנה
- עי’ שו”ע הגר”ז סי’ רמ”ד סעי’ א
- 7. מ”ב סי’ רנ”ב ס”ק י”ב
- עי’ שו”ע הגר”ז סי’ רנ”ג ס”ד שאף שלא אמר להגוי לעבוד בשבת מ”מ צריך למחות.
- דומה לסי’ רמ”ד ס”ה וכמו שמבואר בספר אמירה לעכו”ם לר’ ש.ב. כהן עמוד 91 בשם הגר”מ פיינשטיין זצ”ל והגרש”ז אויערבאך זצ”ל שבזמן חז”ל עבד ושכיר היו משעובדים לז’ ימי השבוע אבל כהיום אינן משעובדות לכל ימי השבוע וגם אינן משעובדות לכל שעות היום ולכן מה שהיא עובדת בשבת הוי אדעתא דנפשה ומותר.
- מ”ב סי’ רנ”ב ס”ק יז בשם החיי אדם
- ספר אמירה לעכו”ם הנ”ל פרק ס”ו בשם הגר”מ פיינשטיין זצ”ל.
- כ”כ בספר אמירה לעכו”ם הנ”ל פרק ס”ו ציון 12 בשם הגר”מ פיינשטיין שאין כאן החשש של החיי אדם מפני שאין מראית עין אלא במלאכה שיש לחשוש שעכשיו צווה לה ישראל לעשותה משא”כ מלאכות שהעוזרת רגילה בהן בכל יום בלא ציווי כלל.
- סי’ רנ”ב ס”ה ברמ”א ובמ”ב ס”ק מח, ובספר הנ”ל פרק סו ציון 6 בשם הגר”מ פיינשטיין בענין עוזרת.
- סי’ רע”ו ס”א
- מ”ב סי’ רע”ו ס”ק ב
- שו”ע סי’ רע”ו ס”ד
- כ”כ בספר הנ”ל דף 93
- שו”ע סי’ ש”ז ס”ב
- כבשו”ע הגר”ז סי’ ש”ז סט”ז, ועי’ במ”ב סי’ רע”ו ס”ק כ”ז שאם היא עשתה מלאכה לסייע עצמה בעבודתה כגון שהדליקה האור בחדר כדי להדיח כלים מותר ליהנות ממנה.
- שמעתי מא”מ שליט”א שאין לצוותה להדיח הרצפה סתם אלא צריך לפרט לה להדיא דרך הדחה שמותר בשבת, שכיון שהדרך מן הסתם הוא להדיח באופן האסור א”כ אם אינו מפרט לה הוי כאילו אמר לה לעשות מלאכה.
- שו”ע סי’ ש”ז ס”ה
- שם ובמ”ב ס”ק כ”ב
- סי’ ש”ז במ”ב ס”ק כ”א וסי’ שכ”ח ס”ק נ”ב, ובדבר נוזל אין מירוח מדאורייתא ולכן מותר ע”י עכו”ם במקום חולי.
- שו”ע סי’ שכ”ח סי”ז
- רמ”א סי’ רנ”ג ס”ה ובמ”ב ס”ק צ”ט, ועי’ בספר ברית עולם בסוה”ס עניני אמירה לעכו”ם סי’ ט”ז שהתיר פסיק רישא רק באיסור דרבנן, אמנם שמעתי מא”מ שהמנהג להקל אפי’ באיסור דאורייתא.
- שו”ת אגרות משה או”ח ח”ב סי’ ס”ח
- שו”ע הגר”ז סי’ רנ”ג ס”י