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The Torah’s commands to rest one’s avadim/slaves (abridged)
MBY 304 From the Mishnah Berura’s introduction to this siman:
1) Devarim (5:14) states: “… so that your eved and your amah may rest like you.” – This pasuk refers to an eved (i.e. male slave; amah refers to a female slave) who had himself circumcised and immersed (in a mikvah) in order to accept full status of avdus (servitude to a Jewish household) upon himself. This includes acceptance of obligation to perform all applicable commandments: All those mitzvos which are incumbent upon every Jewish woman, which excludes most of the positive time-specific ones. Such an eved is thereby commanded to keep Shabbos just as any Jew would. In addition, the Torah exhorts his master to enforce the eved’s Shabbos observance, and certainly to refrain from asking him to do Shabbos-prohibited melachos for the master’s benefit.
2) Shmos (23:12) states: “… so that your ox and donkey may be content and your amah’s son and the sojourner may be refreshed.” - This pasuk refers to an eved (or amah) who, while owned by a Jewish master, has not accepted the full status of avdus. As such, the eved is not obligated to refrain from Shabbos melacha – if he is doing it for his own personal benefit. However, his master is commanded not to instruct the eved to do any melacha for his (the master’s) benefit, nor may he permit the eved to do such melacha on his own initiative. This siman discusses fully these and related halachos, most of which are not applicable to us today. (Ed: For something that IS relevant, see MBY 306-307, and also MBY 242 and beyond, for a complete treatment of the halachos governing the performance of melacha done by a non-Jew on behalf of a Jew.)
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