Having a Non-Jew Help Clean Up After a Communal Shabbat Meal

QUESTION

France

Is it okay to have a non-Jew come at the end of a communal Shabbat meal to do any of the following?

  1. Unplug the hot plates
  2. Turn off the lights
  3. Take the trash out (in a yard that belongs to the whole building)

If the answer to any of the above is yes, which of the following is the best way to relay the message to the non-Jew?

a) Ask directly (though we don’t actually need to)
b) Make a not-so-subtle allusion to the fact that it would be great if… Etc
c) Ask a kid to ask her

ANSWER

In general, Shuls tend to rely on the idea that these Shul/communal issues are tzorchei rabim (Tzitz Eliezer, 4:4, ד”ה אך ירשה) and they can use straight amirah for a de’orayta when need be (MB 276:25). I think you can follow that besha’at hatzorekh, and certainly the hot plates are a potential sakana (danger) issue which would bring this to a “tzorekh“. However, with a little advanced planning, you shouldn’t need to rely on this.

I am also working with the assumption that turning out the lights is not just about saving money and that taking out the trash is not just because of convenience (simply easier to do now rather than later) but rather, an issue of smells etc.

It should also be noted that here everything you’ve described is a derabanan, since even turning off the lights and hot plates is not de’orayta because there is no Gachelet Shel Matechet – a burning metal coal (Shulchan Arukh HaRav OH, Kuntres Acharon 495:2). If all this is the case then you have shevut d’shevut bimakom tzorekhei rabim (MB 276:25, MB 306:28). However, based on the degree of need regarding the lights and trash, this might not rise to the level of tzorekhei rabim.

Even if it is hard to fully characterize it as tzorchei rabim, nevertheless, given the above considerations of shevut d’shvut, and some degree of tzorech, it would certainly be fine if you tell him before Shabbat, and best if you can be indirect: “The hot plates will need to be unplugged” etc. (SA OH 307:2, MB 307:10)

If you didn’t do it before Shabbat, your last two options also work by adding another layer of d’rabanan, although you need to really consider the chinuch/ habituation factor when doing it through a Kattan (MB 307:76).

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