While enslaved in Egypt, the Jews worked every day, and one of the special days celebrated to commemorate our Exodus is Shabbos. Observing Shabbos includes not only keeping the mitzvos ourselves, but also knowing when I may ask a non-Jew to perform prohibited activity, and when may I benefit from work performed by a gentile on Shabbos.
Question #1: A non-Jew turned on the lights for me on Shabbos. May I use this light to read?
Question #2: It is chilly in our house. May I ask a gentile neighbor to turn up the heat?
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Each of the following questions is an actual situation that people have asked me:
Question #1: My car needs repair work and the most convenient time to drop it off at Angelo’s Service Station is Friday afternoon. May I bring Angelo the car then knowing that he is going to repair it on Shabbos?
Question #2: A gala Shabbos sheva brachos is being held at an apartment several flights of stairs below street level, a very common situation in hilly Yerushalayim. The kallah’s elderly grandmother arrived before Shabbos by elevator, intending to return home by using the Shabbos elevator (a subject we will discuss at a different time iy’H). Indeed, the building’s elevator actually has a Shabbos setting, but we discovered on Shabbos that the Shabbos setting is not working. How does Grandma get home?
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