Illuminations #219, Elul, 5779, Parshat ki Tetze

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Illuminations #219, Elul, 5779, Parshat Ki Tetze

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is There a difference between a Non-Jewish day worker and a contractor as regards work on Shabbat?. [II-17-390)

A. Shulchan Aruch haRav (Orech Chaim 244-1, Baal HaTanya, R. Shneur Zalman of Liady Z”L) writes that a hired day worker for whom the work is not his at all, and he is not busy with it, certainly his intention is not to do his work in order to complete the work. That is because it is not on him to complete the work  and there is not constructive purpose at all for him to complete it. Rather,  his intent is to work for the Jew the entire day in order that he [the Jew] give him his payment. Therefore, it is as if he does the work as the agent of the Jew. However, for the contractor the work is his obligation, and his intention is that he work to complete the work in order to take payment for his completed work. Thus, he is not like an agent for the Jew.

Shulchan Aruch HaRav also writes in the section preceding this (Orech Chaim 243-4)  likewise: ”A non-Jew who intends [his work on Shabbat to be done] for his own personal benefit, in order that  the person who makes him an agent pay him on a daily basis, in any event since he does his work so that the  Jew will pay him to work for certain days, this is as if he acts as the agent of the Jew  ….” Therefore, even if he does (the work on Shabbat) for his own benefit, this does not accomplish anything since in the matter of agency there is no distinction between one that that does something for the benefit of the one who makes another his agent, and one who does something for the agent’s own benefit.  In either case he is his agent.