Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Mr. Kaduri was an avid basketball fan and attended many games of his home team together with his son, Sol. This year he bought a package deal: seats throughout the season for the two of them.

Sol looked over the details of the package deal. “There are a number of games on Shabbos,” he commented.

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“I know,” replied Mr. Kaduri. “Obviously, we can’t go to those games. Still, it’s cheaper to buy the package than to pay individually for all the games that we attend during the week.”

“Nonetheless, it seems a waste of money for those games,” Sol said. “Are the seats restricted or can we resell them for the Shabbos games?”

“It’s possible to resell them,” answered Mr. Kaduri. “I have some non-Jewish associates who might be interested in weekend games.”

“But is there any halachic issue?” asked Sol. “We just learned in yeshiva about schar Shabbos, that a person cannot charge for services or rent on Shabbos, even if it doesn’t entail any prohibited melacha.”

“That’s an interesting point,” said Mr. Kaduri. “How would that possibly apply here, though?”

“If we have seats, and charge someone for using them for Shabbos,” answered Sol, “perhaps it’s like we’re charging rent for the seats for the Shabbos games!”

“I view it more as simply selling the tickets for the Shabbos games, not renting,” replied Mr. Kaduri. “Is there any problem with selling the tickets for Shabbos use?”

“I don’t know,” contemplated Sol. “We didn’t discuss that in class.”

“Anyway, schar Shabbos makes sense when talking about two Jews,” continued Mr. Kaduri. “But we’re selling or renting to non-Jews. Why should there be any issue of schar Shabbos vis-à-vis them?’

“I didn’t think of that,” replied Sol. “Does it make a difference?”

Mr. Kaduri called Rabbi Dayan and asked:

“Can I sell the tickets for Shabbos games to a non-Jew?”

“The prohibition of schar Shabbos is primarily on the one receiving payment,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “Thus, receiving schar Shabbos from a non-Jew is also prohibited. Conversely, most poskim allow paying a non-Jew for doing work that is allowed on Shabbos, or to pay him rent for Shabbos” (Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasah 28:55, 62, 63).

Nonetheless, the prohibition of schar Shabbos is only to profit from Shabbos itself, such as for services performed on Shabbos or rental during Shabbos. However, if a person sells an item on Shabbos – such as a grocer who allows someone to take food on Shabbos – he can collect after Shabbos at the regular price, since his profit is not from Shabbos itself, but rather from the item. Certainly, selling an item during the week for use on Shabbos does not entail schar Shabbos” (O.C. 323:4; Orchos Shabbos 22:87).

Thus, the primary question here is: Are you selling your ticket to the other person or are you renting him use of your seat?

This may depend on the nature of the ticket and the stipulations of the package deal. In most situations, one can probably argue that you are selling the ticket for that game, so that there is no issue of schar Shabbos. However, if a person owns a PSL (personal seat license) – so that he can buy a season ticket for a specific seat on a permanent basis – and charges someone to use that seat on Shabbos, it more resembles renting the seat, and would presumably be prohibited as schar Shabbos.

“Regardless, if you would include in your agreement with the non-Jew also a game that was during the week, or on a Friday or Shabbos afternoon extending into the evening, it would be permissible based on havlaah – inclusion in weekday payment,” concluded Rabbi Dayan. “Schar Shabbos is prohibited only when paid for Shabbos alone, not when included within payment also for weekday” (O.C. 306:4; Mishnah Berurah 306:21).

Verdict: Most often reselling tickets for Shabbos games to a non-Jew is allowed. In cases that closely resemble renting, it is permitted only as part of an agreement that includes weekday games – havlaah.

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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 [email protected]. 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 [email protected].