Ali’s dad, the Shabbos goy

From yesterday’s Seattle P.I., a profile of Abu Ali, a Muslim working as a Shabbos goy in Jerusalem:

This irregular Shabbos Goy trade grew out of a unique need in Orthodox communities for non-Jewish help on the Sabbath. From sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, Jewish law calls on the observant to take a break from life. Cellphones are turned off. No one is allowed to drive. Meals must be cooked in advance. There’s no TV. No computer. No shopping.

But times come when these observant families need help: A fuse blows. Someone accidentally leaves a light on in the bedroom. Someone needs to get to the hospital to give birth.

In those instances, Orthodox Jews call a Shabbos Goy.

I’d heard of this job before, but hadn’t realized the level of finesse involved:

Since observant Jews can’t ask for help, they use a special code with Abu Ali. If they need the air conditioner turned on, they tell him that it’s hot. If they need a light turned on or a fuse changed, they say that it’s dark.

The full article is here.

2 thoughts on “Ali’s dad, the Shabbos goy”

  1. I know of a man who is a tournament Scrabble player and Orthodox. He can’t use a timer when he’s playing on Saturdays, and so has a “clock goy” to hit his clock for him when he’s playing in big tournaments at those times and his opponent isn’t willing to hit the clock for him.

    Same idea, micro scale.

  2. Technically, and according to strick Halacha (Jewish law) you *can’t* actually ask the Shabbos Goy to do anything, no matter how cryptic the message. Also, the Shabbos Goy has to be doing thing X for their use / pleasure / need. So if they do turn on the air conditioner, it’s because their in the room and they want to cool down.

    All that said, what’s been reported is accurate in terms of how people nowadays interact with Shabbos goys.

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