Ethical question

This question always comes up when you are planning a simcha on Shabbat. Can you invite a guest to join in your simcha when you KNOW s/he will be mechallel Shabbat (break the laws of Shabbat) to get there? I am sure there are fixes – offer them a place to stay near location of event, even if they refuse, you are yoitzer – is this true?

How have YOU addressed this issue in the past?

Disclaimer – for any halachic questions please contact your local rabbi – I am not a halachic authority…

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  1. shorty says:

    i believe the answer is no. but i’m not sure what the source is on that.

  2. shoshi says:

    Yep I also have this dilemma. Not for smachot, but also just for inviting them.

    Mostly I don’t but sometimes I do…
    My friend does.

    I think chabad says it’s OK.

    I suppose,in any case, if you offer them a solution where they do not have to be mechalel shabbat, it should be OK. You do not have to be nosy and verify if they did what you said.

  3. shoshi says:

    What alternatives do you have?
    Just invite them to the seuda on sunday?

    Invite them to the seuda on sunday and tell them by the way the shabbat thing will be then and then at this and this place, without inviting them?

    Actually this might be a solution: notify instead of inviting.

  4. Mark says:

    Well, the halacha is clear that you shouldn’t entice someone to do things contrary to halacha (“lifnei eever, etc”). However, there are often other things at play:

    1. If the person drives everywhere on Shabbat anyway, and if they weren’t driving to your simcha, they would instead drive to the mall, maybe that affects your decision. Is it better to drive to the mall and hang out for 3-4 hours, spend money on shabbat, eat treife food at the food court, and then drive home, or it is better for them to drive to your house/shul, attend davening (please provide translated sidduring/chumashim for them), listen to the boy lein, have kiddush, and have lunch with the family, and then drive home? Maybe by inviting them, you are reducing the number of aveirot they might perform that shabbat?

    2. Worse than enticing someone to “sin”, even mechalel shabbat, is embarrassing someone. Much worse. So, if there is any reason for you to believe that they would be embarrassed if you tell them not to come, not to drive on shabbat, etc, then again you are not permitted to say any such thing.

    3. Kiruv. There is always the small possibility that the person coming (by car) gets “turned on” by frumkeit. Over time, they might be chozer betshuva, and thus this invitation could contribute to a lifetime of aveira reduction!

    Notification versus inviting, it’s a kvetch and I think it results in exactly the same thing. And for a Bris Milah, you always notify rather than invite.

  5. Noah Roth says:

    Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Z”L, wrote a tshuva permitting the invitation of non-observant guests to functions on shabbat- PROVIDING THAT THE INVITATION INCLUDE AN OPTION TO STAY FOR THE ENTIRETY OF SHABBAT- such that the choice to violate shabbat is that of the guest not the host.

  6. rabbifink says:

    Noah is right.

    Halachically speaking it is a real problem. If you cause them to break Shabbos for your sake their breaking of Shabbos will be attributed to you. By inviting them to stay for Shabbos the problem becomes theirs not yours. Yes, it sounds callous because it is. It might be “better” for them not to come if they would be more Shabbos observant at home. (It would not be better as per Mark’s scenario above…)

    There are different sets of rules for “Kiruv Professionals” as well. But those rules will rarely apply to a lay person and certainly not for a family Simcha.

    Those who say “it’s okay” “no big deal” need to ask a halachic authority as I know of none whom permit such invitations with no caveat.

  7. Mark says:

    What Noah says above is what we do and what I think is the best choice. The thing is, most people opt not to stay with us (5 rambunctious little kids can do that :-) But both my sisters live a few minutes walk away and have bigger (and thus usually better behaved) kids, so people (from my side of the family) often opt to stay by them. On my wife’s side, they all opt to drive on Shabbat, and really do know that they are welcome in my house.

    As mentioned above by R’ E. Fink, I think the rules are different for “kiruv pros” and shuls. Our shul, an Orthodox one, for example, has a piece of land that is used for parking on shabbat (50+ cars on a regular shabbat, far more chagim and certain simchas), but closes the parking lot.

  8. Noah Roth says:

    To clarify, I was not implying that it is no big deal, but there is a reliable lenient opinion as long as you extend an invitation for all of shabbat.

  9. Risa says:

    I have to answer this question with a question! What arrangements are you making for the others you are inviting to the simcah on shabbat? If you arrange for them to stay within walking distance it’s reasonable to ask the others to stay as well. The rule of thumb I heard from a YU shiur was that if they live within a reasonable distance and could walk to your simcha you don’t have to inquire as to how they got there, but if they live far away and you know they can’t possibly come without driving you can’t invite them.

  10. My rav is pretty clear about this in quite a different direction than most of your comments.

    He says that we absolutely can invite people to our homes (and smachot), even if we know for sure they will not take us up on our offer to stay for the entire Shabbat and will definitely drive on Shabbat.

    He quite pointedly points out that if we believe in achdut ha’am (not to mention kiruv), then we should not be eliminating invitations to our friends who are not religious.

  11. Mark says:

    RivkA, that’s my kind of Rav! Halacha is like olam hazeh, halacha with compassion is like olan habah!

  12. Rifki says:

    Thanks for posting this.

  13. hadassahsabo says:

    Rif – go to sleep!!

  14. Rifki says:

    Dani woke me up repeatedly last night, so I succumbed and stayed up until she was soundly back asleep.

  15. le7 says:

    There is a story. Okay I can’t remember any of the details. Basically some big guy farbrenged every Shabbos and this guy who doesn’t keep Shabbos or kosher and had an “interesting” reputation would come hang out by the farbrengens every Shabbos. One of the people asked some holy person “Why do we let him hang out with us etc?” And the person said that every moment they’re sitting with us they’re not violating Shabbos and what not.

    Okay not the same situation but I think the idea applies. Even if they’re going to break Shabbos to come to your event, the whole time they’re there, they’re in a Torah environment and not breaking Shabbos and whatnot.

  16. yup!! not to mention that the experience might move them closer to an observant lifestyle. you never know in what ways you might be influencing the future!!

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