The "Shabbes Goy": A Study in Halakhic Flexibility

By Jacob Katz; Yoel Lerner | Go to book overview

7
Initial Industrialization Problems in Italy

The Sabbath Gentile, one assisting the Jew to observe his Sabbath properly, became a permanent phenomenon as time passed, a sure indication that not only individuals but also community institutions required his services. R. Abraham Gombiner realized that in his own community of Kalisch "they allow themselves to hire a Gentile under contract to remove the garbage from the streets, and the Gentile does the work on the Sabbath."1 R. Abraham, the author of Magen Avraham, assumed as self-evident that this had been permitted in the past by a scholarly ruling (". . . and we must conclude that a great rabbi handed down this ruling"), and he guessed that this permissive ruling was based on the fact that "because of the community ['s involvement] there is no ground for suspicion."2 The ban on contracting is imposed on account of appearances, but an entire community is not suspect.

____________________
1
Magen Avraham 244:8.
2
Ibid. According to this explanation, "it would appear permissible to build a synagogue on the Sabbath by contracting; at any rate, I have seen that great scholars did not want to permit this." The reason, in his opinion, was that since the Christians do not allow work to be done publicly on their festivals, it would seem profane if the Jews treated their own Sabbath more lightly.

-107-

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