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Mr. Appel ran a computer store. One of his clients, a nonobservant Jew named Mr. Moskowicz, had ordered a computer. Mr. Appel notified him on Thursday afternoon that it was ready.

“I can’t come today,” said Mr. Moskowicz. “I can come tomorrow afternoon.”


“I leave early on Friday,” replied Mr. Appel. “I close at 3:00 p.m.”

“That’s a problem,” said Mr. Moskowicz. “I can’t get there before 4.”

“I open again on Monday,” said Mr. Appel. “You can come get the computer on Monday.”

“I need it by Sunday,” said Mr. Moskowicz. “I arranged with my son to come help me set it up, transfer my files, etc. If I don’t get the computer till Monday, it will delay everything a week.”

“If you want, I can leave the computer with Mr. Thomas in the neighboring store,” said Mr. Appel. “You can pick it up from him, but it has to be before 5:30 p.m.”

“Why, does he close then?” asked Mr. Moskowicz.

“No, he’s open till 7, but it’s important for me that you get the computer by 5:30,” Mr. Appel replied. “I prefer not to explain why.” He didn’t want to get into a discussion about Shabbos with Mr. Moskowicz.

“OK, I’ll be there between 4 and 5:30 PM,” Mr. Moskowicz said.

Mr. Appel brought the computer to Mr. Thomas on Friday. “This is for a client, Mr. Moskowicz,” he said. “He’s supposed to stop by later this afternoon.”

“OK, I’ll give it to him,” said Mr. Thomas.

On Monday, Mr. Appel asked about the computer. “Mr. Moscowicz came just before I closed,” said Mr. Thomas, “at 6:45 in the evening.”

“Oh, really?” asked Mr. Appel. “He told me he would be here by 5:30.”

“Well, he wasn’t,” said the neighbor. “He said something about getting delayed.”

Mr. Appel was concerned. “That means that Mr. Moskowicz took the computer on Shabbos!” he said to himself. “I never sell things on Shabbos! What about the money?”

Mr. Appel turned to Rabbi Dayan, and explained what happened. He asked:

“Was the sale that occurred on Shabbos valid? Can I use the money?”

“The Gemara (Beitzah 37a) teaches that transactions of many forms are not allowed on Shabbos,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “Many explain that this is a Rabbinic injunction lest one write” (Sma 195:22).

“Nonetheless, the Tosefta (Beitzah 4:3) teaches that if a transaction was made on Shabbos, even with willful intent, it is valid. The sale document should be dated after Shabbos, though, presumably so that the violation will not be apparent” (C.M. 195:11; 235:28; Aruch HaShulchan 235:26).

“The language of the Shulchan Aruch seemingly indicates that both parties, the buyer and the seller, violate the Rabbinic injunction when doing so willfully” (Pischei Choshen, Kinyanim 7:12).

“The injunction against transactions also includes giving gifts that are not for the purpose of Shabbos or for a mitzvah, as an extension of the prohibition of commerce” (Mishnah Berurah 306:33).

“Even gifts or food sales for the purpose of Shabbos or Yom Tov, which are allowed with certain restrictions (see O.C. 323; 517:1,3), should be done through taking the items, not through kinyan sudar (Mishnah Berurah 527:60). Perhaps this is because kinyan sudar is usually intended to be documented, or because the transaction is more evident in this manner” (Pischei Choshen, Kinyanim 7:[32]).

In some cases, Chazal comment that ‘there will not be blessing’ in earnings not in the spirit of Halacha, but this would not seem to apply here, since you intended to sell on Friday (O.C. 251:1; 696:1).

“Thus, while Mr. Moscowicz was not allowed to take the computer on Shabbos,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “the transaction is valid, and you are allowed to use the money. Here, you can date the receipt as Friday, since the violation is not thereby apparent.”

Verdict: Transactions are not allowed on Shabbos, other than for the purpose of Shabbos with certain restrictions. If a transaction was done in violation, it remains valid and the money is permitted.


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Rabbi Meir Orlian is a faculty member of the Business Halacha Institute, headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, a noted dayan. To receive BHI’s free newsletter, Business Weekly, send an e-mail to For questions regarding business halacha issues, or to bring a BHI lecturer to your business or shul, call the confidential hotline at 877-845-8455 or e-mail