Amazon etc. When Can I Use An Item or Letter Which Was Delivered On Shabbos? [#74]

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When Can I Use an Item or Letter Which Was Delivered On Shabbos [#74]

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            Today we're going to be discussing the question of receiving a letter or a package on Shabbos.  The question is whether or not you're allowed to use the item right away, as that would be a benefit from the melachah that the goy did in order to get that package to you on Shabbos.

            The question is brought up in a sefer called Commerce and Shabbos, by Rabbi Yosef Kushner.  He brings over here that the halacha is that we're not allowed to get benefit from melachah that was done for a Jew by a goy on Shabbos.  Even if the Jew did not instruct the goy to do the melachah, we are still not allowed to benefit from that melachah.

            There are two reasons brought down.  One, to protect the sanctity of Shabbos, the rabanan prohibitedgetting benefit from that melachah.  The second reason is, because the rabanan were afraid that if we allowed a person to benefit from melachah that was done by a goy for a Jew, even without them asking for it, the Jewish people may come to actually ask a goy to do something directly on Shabbos.  That, as we spoke about earlier, is an isur of amirah l'akum.  So in order to protect the Jewish people from coming to amirah l'akum, they did not allow a person to get benefit from that melachah.

            So in this case over here, where a person gets a package or a letter on Shabbos, what is the halacha?  There are times that you're not allowed to use the item until the end of Shabbos, and sometimes you even have to wait a little bit after Shabbos.  There is something called kedei she'ya'aseh.  It's that we make you wait a little bit longer after Shabbos ends, so that you don't benefit from the time that was used/saved on Shabbos of the goy to get the item to you.

            For example, if the goy had to spend an extra 10 minutes to get the package to your house, then that means there was 10 minutes of melachah done specifically for the Jewish person.  So you are going to have to actually wait until 10 minutes after Shabbos ends before getting any benefit from the item.

            We're going to discuss which cases you can use the item right away, which cases you have to wait until after Shabbos, and which cases you have to wait even after Shabbos an amount of time.

            Let's first discuss when it comes to a personal letter or a printed publication, something like that, where it just comes by itself and you don't order it.  We're not talking about a newspaper or a magazine subscription which arrives on Shabbos.  That's something else, which we're going to have to deal with in another video as a follow-up to this one.  (We already spoke about ordering/subscribing to newspapers which include Saturday delivery ). In regards to this, it's talking about a friendly letter or something like a printed thing that comes in the mail which you didn't order/subscribe to.

            He says over here that most of the poskim allow a letter to be read on Shabbos.  Why?  Number one, because you didn't really tell the person to send you a letter, so we're not worried about you coming to tell the goy to do melachah for you in another case.  As well, it's not really considered getting "benefit" from the melachah that a goy did.  So those poskim, most of them say that it would be allowed to read a letter that came in on Shabbos.

            However, according to the Mishnah Brurah, he brings that there are poskim who hold that it is called getting a benefit and, therefore, it would be best to wait until the end of Shabbos to read/benefit from that letter.  But you wouldn't have to wait until the extra period of time after Shabbos.  All poskim agree that immediately at the end of Shabbos, you would be allowed to read that letter.

            One important note that he says over here is that when the mailman or someone delivers that letter, he should be told to put it down first and then you should pick it up.  We're not getting into the reason why (it’s a discussion of its own), but they should put it down first.

            In regards to a delivered item of clear benefit/use, such as clothing or toys, and it's received on Shabbos, whats the halacha? Those things you will for sure be getting benefit from and if the goy did do a specific melachah, like they drove in order to get the item to you, then we see clearly again see that a goy did a melachah for a Jew on Shabbos, and therefore, in such a case, you would have to wait this time of kedei sheya'aseh, after the end of Shabbos, before getting benefit from the item.

            So if the goy had to drive an extra ten minutes out of the way to get to your house to drop of that package, then you'd have to wait an extra 10 minutes after the completion of Shabbos to get benefit from it.  We don't calculate and add in all of the time starting from the warehouse, because usually there are other packages for goyim that are also in the shipment. Since the was work was done for goyim as well then its not counted.  We're only worried about the amount of time that was spent specifically for the melachah done for the Jew.

            Also, another thing he brings over here is that it's only a case where it was a non-Jewish person who sent you the item or a non-Jewish company or a non-religious Jew.  Those are people that we were worried that you could actually come to tell them to do a melachah on Shabbos.  However, if it was sent from a Jewish person who keeps Shabbos, then you would be allowed to use the item right away.  Because we're not worried about you telling a religious person to send something to you on Shabbos, because he would never listen to you and send it on Shabbos. So in this case, where it's an item of clear use/benefit (clothing/toys) and it comes to you on Shabbos, this rule that you have to wait until after Shabbos the amount of time that it comes to you, is only in cases where it's not a religious Jew.  Then you would have to wait that amount of time.

            In cases where the item is urgently needed, such as clothing needed for Shabbos or Yom Tov, then there is a case where you would be able to use it and you wouldn't have to wait until the end of Shabbos.  That's in a case where the sender, the person you bought it from, was paid a set shipping fee or if everything was included in the sale price of the item.  In such a case, we say that the goy is not doing the melachah for a Jew; rather, he is doing the melachah for himself, in order to complete the sale.  In such cases, you would be allowed to use the item right away on Shabbos if its urgently needed***.


***Please note that these halachos are intended to inform and educate the reader/listener in general. For any specific questions which arise, it is recommended to speak over the exact case with a competent halachic authority in order to assess the halacha accordingly as any small change will greatly affect the final halacha. You can send your questions in to us as well by replying via WhatsApp to our halacha Q & A number on the group, sending an email to Ask@MoneyHalacha.com, or via our contact page at MoneyHalacha.com/contact-us


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