Shabbos goy

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A Shabbos goy, Shabbat goy or Shabbes goy (Yiddish: שבת גוי, shabbos goy Modern Hebrew: גוי של שבת goy shel shabat) is a non-Jew who performs certain types of work (melakha) which Jewish religious law (halakha) enjoins the Jew from doing on the Sabbath. The phrase is a combination of the word "Shabbos" (שבת) meaning the Sabbath, and goy, which literally means "a nation" but colloquially means a "non-Jew" (in Biblical Hebrew "goy" means simply "a nation", but in Mishnaic Hebrew it is used in the sense of "a non-national", i.e., "a non-Jew").

Judaism prohibits Jews from doing certain types of work, known as melakha, on the Sabbath. Within certain guidelines (see Shulkhan Arukh), a non-Jew may perform certain acts which are beneficial to Jews but which may not be performed by Jews on the Sabbath. There are numerous restrictions[1] and certain types of work are prohibited, such as contractor work.[2]

A "shabbat goy" is not needed where life is at stake (pikuach nefesh). Jewish physicians must work on the Sabbath if their work is needed to save lives.

Examples[edit]

In the 20th century, Colin Powell, Mario Cuomo, Martin Scorsese, Floyd B. Olson, Harry Truman, and the adolescent Elvis Presley assisted their Jewish neighbors in this way.[3][4][5][6]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "The Myth of the Shabbos Goy", [1]
  2. ^ "May One Allow a Non-Jewish Contractor to Build on Shabbat?" [2]
  3. ^ "Former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell and Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York State, each a former Shabbos goy, both share fond recollections of their youth, when they were uniquely qualified to lend a Jewish neighbor a hand." Fertig, Avi. "Glatt Kosher Adventure To The Land Down Under", The Jewish Press, November 21, 2007.
  4. ^ "...[R]eaders follow General Powell all the way back from Gulf War strategist to South Bronx Shabbos goy, the lad who earned a quarter on Friday nights turning on and off the synagogue lights for Orthodox Jews." Clines, Francis X. "The Co-Author of Gen. Powell's Book Is Given a Part as the Story Goes On", The New York Times, October 1, 1995.
  5. ^ Chan, Sewell, "White Ethnic Politics: Irish and Italian Catholics and Jews, Oh, My!", The New York Times, October 25, 2007
  6. ^ Sources give two different people for whom Elvis was a Shabbos goy. In Tugging at Jewish Weeds: An Interview with Steve Stern it was the Dubrovner family; to Alfred J. Kolatch, in his Inside Judaism: The Concepts, Customs, and Celebrations of the Jewish People (Pub. Jonathan David, 2006), p. 480, citing a secondary source, it is Rabbi Alfred Fruchter who is helped.

References[edit]