Shabbat Parashat Devarim| 5763
Ask the Rabbi
Question: I want to attend a sporting event. Ticket sales begin on Shabbat and are expected to be finished by day’s end. May I ask a non-Jew to buy tickets for himself, hinting that I will buy them from him after Shabbat for a higher price?
Answer: The general rule about arranging before Shabbat for a non-Jew to do work for you on Shabbat is as follows. If the non-Jew is considered to be acting independently for his own benefit, it is permitted even though the Jew gains from the action. If halacha views him as serving as some type of shaliach (agent) of the Jew, it is forbidden. The classical poskim arrived at a variety of practical distinctions based on this rule.
One may not pay a non-Jew to be his employee (poel) on Shabbat. However he may give a non-Jew a job to do if he is paid the by specific job (kablan), not for his commitment to do work on the Jew’s behalf (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 247:1). There are many details and sub-distinctions on the matter, such as on extended relationships and marit ayin issues when it looks like he is the Jew’s employee, but these are beyond this response’s scope. What is most pertinent to us is the rule that the Jew may not demand even of a kablan that the work be done on Shabbat (ibid.) Even if the Jew does not specify that he work on Shabbat, if it is necessary in order to accomplish the job as specified, the prohibition applies (Mishna Berura 307:13). This seems to apply in your case, as paying him for the task of buying the tickets requires doing so on Shabbat.
However, the non-Jew is considered working for you only if the work relates to you with a certain level of directness. Therefore, while a Jew may not give money to a non-Jew to buy a commodity for him on Shabbat, he may suggest to him to buy it with his own money and hint that he will likely buy it from the non-Jew after Shabbat (Shulchan Aruch, OC 307:3). Hagahot Maimoniot (Shabbat 6:2) and Hagahot Mordechai (452) learn this from the fact that one can sell chametz to a non–Jew with the understanding that he will buy it back (see Shulchan Aruch OC 448:4). Since several achronim allow the Jew to give an oral assurance to buy back the chametz if the sale is unconditional (Mishna Berura 448:23), one can likewise promise the non-Jew to buy the tickets after Shabbat (ibid. 307:13). There are even those who allow the Jew to lend the non-Jew money to buy the tickets since at the time of the purchase, the money is the non-Jew’s (Shulchan Aruch Harav 307:10).
In summary, suggest a deal; don’t tell him to buy.
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