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MBY 542: 1-2 Working for others for free
MBY 542: 1-2 Working for others for free
As a general rule, even when melacha is permitted to be done on Ch”H – e.g. l’tzorech hamoed (for festival needs) - the Sages ordained that it be done in the spirit of a festival need. By this we mean that the melacha should be done either by the person who has the need, or, in the event that he cannot do it himself, by someone else as a favor or to receive his compensation in the form of Yom Tov meals or the like. It should not be done, however, as a “professional hire” – i.e. the person in need of the melacha should not pay to have the melacha done, by either Jew or non-Jew! To hire someone to do the melacha is considered an ‘uvdin d’chol’ (a weekday-like activity) – for the both the hirer and the hired (if he is a Jew) – which the Sages considered to be not in the spirit of Ch”H.

Are there exceptions to this general rule? Of course there are! The most common exception is when there is no other way for the person in need to get the job done!

Another common exception is ‘davar ha-aveid’ (Remember DHA - where the melacha is needed to prevent a loss? We have learned that DHA is significant grounds for leniency on Ch”H in general.)

Question: What is the rationale for this second exception? After all, this seems to take the heter (halachaic permit) of DHA to the next level – Are we not permitting one Jew (the hired) to do something he normally may not do (i.e. accept payment for melacha) for the sake of another Jew’s DHA?!

Answer: A fascinating analysis is made by the Vilna Gaon (quoted in the Mishnah Berura) to explain this exception, and it is based upon a different exception which is taught in this very siman. At the beginning of our study of Hilchos Ch”H, we mentioned the heter of “Work done by a worker who needs to earn money for basic subsistance (‘po-eil she’ein lo ma yochal/lit. ”a worker who has nothing to eat”). For example, suppose Jew A does not need any melacha done for himself, but he knows of Jew B, a certain craftsman who could certainly use some work in order to earn enough money to provide for his festival needs. Jew A is now permitted to hire Jew B to do melacha for him – which ordinarily would not be permitted for Jew A to do - purely for the sake of Jew B’s earning money for Yom Tov!

Conversely – reasons the Vilna Gaon – in our case, Jew B can work for hire - which ordinarily he is not permitted to do - purely for the sake of Jew A, so that Jew A will not suffer a DHA!

WOW – amazing! In these two instances, not only did the Sages provide a heter for a Jew to do melacha for his own festival needs or DHA, but even for the sake of someone else’s (in the right circumstance! Note: The Mishnah Berura writes, however, that it is preferable for Jew A to hire a non-Jew, even in the case of a DHA.)

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