May I Benefit from a Jew’s Shabbos Recording?

#826: May I Benefit from a Jew’s Shabbos Recording?

Scenario I: My son’s bar-mitzvah Kiddush was held on Shabbos afternoon. One of the local Jews (who really only shows up to shul on Yom Kippur and for social events) videotaped the speeches (unsolicited) and emailed them to us after Shabbos along with some pictures of the event that he took on the sly. May we keep them and show them around?

Scenario II: Due to a number of snow days when college was closed, we had a makeup class scheduled for Friday evening. Since I am shomer Shabbos (Shabbos observant), a fellow Jewish (but non-observant) classmate recorded the class on her phone for my benefit and emailed it to me. May I listen to the professor’s Shabbos lecture?

There is an issur d’Rabbanan (a prohibition by Rabbinic decree) of amirah l’nochri (telling a non-Jew [to perform forbidden work [on Shabbos]) under normal circumstances.* Once the work was performed, the Jewish consumer must wait bich’dei sheya’asu ([the time] for it to be accomplished) after Shabbos is over; with sufficient time having passed for the work to have theoretically been performed post-Shabbos, the Jew may benefit from the non-Jew’s work. However, if the non-Jew is working for themselves or other non-Jews (without the possibility for extra accommodation for the Jew), there are no restrictions—even if the Jew also benefits from their work.

But what if the one performing the melachah is a Jew?

Halachah states that ma’aseh Shabbos ([prohibited] Shabbos work) that a Jew performs independently and b’meizid (deliberately) is not restricted, even immediately after Shabbos. Nevertheless, for benefitting from the work of a mechalel Shabbos ([non-observant individual who regularly] desecrates Shabbos), many poskim state that we must wait bich’dei sheya’asu, and some say that we may not benefit from their work at all. Practically, if the work was unsolicited, it is sufficient to wait bich’dei sheya’asu. (If the work was done at the behest of the observant Jew, no benefit may be derived at all.)

However, both of the above scenarios revolve around a one-time event; once Shabbos has passed, it was no longer possible to record the experiences and we’d be hard-pressed to find a leniency because of the halachic leeway of bich’dei sheya’asu. Therefore, according to many poskim, there is no possibility to benefit from the Shabbos recording of a non-observant individual. The same would apply to footage or photos of a non-Jew, if it was done solely for a Jew.

There are also other issues that come into play when utilizing a Jewish person’s Shabbos work: There is the concept of lifnei iver ([putting a stumbling block] before the blind) which includes the issur d’Rabbanan( Rabbinic prohibition) of mesaye’a (helper [for violating halachah], see Halachah #728) and it may also be a violation of chillul Hashem (desecrating Hashem’s name)—by accepting the Jew’s Shabbos work, it may by appear that we view another’s chillul Shabbos acceptable.

*Some exceptions are issurei d’Rabbanan performed l’tzorech rabbim (for the benefit of many, see Halachah #454) or for a choleh (an ill person). For some of the parameters of non-Jewish Shabbos work, see Halachah #1; Halachah #233; Halachah #369; Halachah #442; Halachah #557; Halachah #692; and Halachah #757.

Practical Halacha: One minute a day. By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, shlita, Mara D'asra and member of the Badatz of Crown Heights.