Mr. Cohen had retired to Israel, but still actively invested in U.S. stocks. One Thursday, the U.S. market declined sharply. When the market reopened Friday morning in New York, it continued to decline. Mr. Cohen decided it was an opportune moment to place a buy order.
As he was about to do so, he paused. “Purchases are executed at 4 p.m. in New York,” he mused to his wife. “That’s 11 p.m. here in Israel, well into our Shabbos.”
“What’s the difference?” said his wife. “Your purchases are processed by a non-Jewish brokerage firm.”
“Still, I can’t have a non-Jew do work for me on Shabbos,” said Mr. Cohen.
He decided to call Rabbi Dayan. Upon hearing the question, Rabbi Dayan said, “A similar question – regarding a factory in a distant place – was addressed almost 50 years ago. Rav Shraga Feivish Shneebalg, zt”l, of London ruled that we follow the local time where the factory is located and the work is done, even if the owner is elsewhere.
“Therefore, when it is Friday local time, the factory can operate, even if it is Shabbos where the owner is [Shraga HaMeir 2:65; 4:112; see, however, Tzel Hachochah 3:125, 4:79].
“Conversely, he writes that the factory may not operate on Shabbos local time, even if it is Friday where the owner is. Asking a factory to stay open on Shabbos local time while one is in a different (earlier) time zone is like asking a non-Jew to work on one’s behalf on Shabbos, which is not allowed [Orach Chayim 307:2].
“However, other authorities allow a Jew for whom it is not Shabbos to instruct a non-Jew – in a place where it is Shabbos – to do work for him if it isn’t publicly evident that the work is being done on behalf of a Jew. For example, they allow a Jew in Israel to call on a non-Jew in America on Motzei Shabbos even though it’s still Shabbos in America. [Shemiras Shabbos K’hilchasah 31:27].
“They explain that amira l’nochri on Shabbos is prohibited either because talk about doing melachah on Shabbos is forbidden or because the non-Jew is considered the agent of the Jew if given instructions to do something. But since it is Motzei Shabbos for the Jew, neither problem exists [Minchas Shlomo 1:19; Chelkas Yaakov, Orach Chayim 77; see, however, Melachim Omnaich, 3:6].
“These authorities agree, though, that the non-Jew cannot do work on Shabbos which is publicly evident on behalf of a Jew,” concluded Rabbi Dayan. “Thus, they do not allow a Jewish-owned store or factory to operate on Shabbos even if the owner is in a different time zone where it isn’t Shabbos.”