The "Shabbes Goy": A Study in Halakhic Flexibility

By Jacob Katz; Yoel Lerner | Go to book overview

8
New Forms of Employment In Central Europe

Germany and Austria, along with Italy, were among the first regions to show signs of the new type of Jewish economic involvement--which then generated inquiries of halakhic authorities in connection with Sabbath Gentiles. Formal and informal supervision of the steps taken by community members seems to have been stricter here than in Italy and perhaps even stricter than it had been in Poland in previous centuries. There is no indication here of permissive conduct evolving inadvertently. Employing Gentiles on the Sabbath, not clearly precedented in local custom, was brought before halakhic authorities, whose guidance was sought in determining what should be done.

When the Austrian authorities decided in 1736 to grant the rights to manufacture and sell tobacco by lease,1 a new source of livelihood was opened up to Austrian Jewry. When exactly the Jews managed to

____________________
1
See Ruth Kestenberg-Gladstein, Neuere Geschichte der Juden in den Böhmischen Ländern, pt. 1, Das Zeitalter der Aufklärung 1780-1830 (Tübingen, 1969), 104-105.

-121-

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