Shabbos Shaylos: Shabbos Miscellany – Amira L’Akum

Amira L’Akum: Waiters


A non-Jewish waiter in a kosher hotel would like to write notes to help him remember how many servings of each dish were ordered. May we allow this?

The letter of the law is that this is permitted because the non-Jew is writing for his own benefit but this practice is wholly inappropriate at a kosher affair or hotel and should not be allowed.


The kosher kitchen in a hotel is on the 2nd floor and the ballroom is on the 14th floor. May the non-Jewish waiters transport the food from the kitchen to the ballroom in an elevator? Is it considered ada’tah d’nafshey since it is theoretically possible for them to carry the food up 13 flights of stairs? Or is this so impractical that the use of the elevator is really the waiter’s only option?

If the food must be transported up or down 1-2 flights of stairs then it is ada’tah d’nafshey if the non-Jew chooses to use the elevator. But it is forbidden for the food to be carried any more than because then the Jew has effectively told the non-Jew to use the elevator.


A—The guests at a hotel (or a simcha) began Shabbos well before shekiah. May the kitchen staff continue doing melacha until shekiah?

The caterer and his staff are not bound by the guests’ choice to begin Shabbos early. There is also nothing wrong with a Jew who hasn’t been mekabel Shabbos (or a non-Jew) performing melacha for another Jew who has. However, it is a zilzul of kavod Shabbos for the kitchen staff to perform melacha in front of a hotel-full of Jews who have been mekabel Shabbos. Therefore, they may not mop, turn on lights or do other melacha in the dining room and they may not do loud melacha in the kitchen (e.g. using an electric knife). However, the kitchen staff may do melacha in the kitchen which is not noticeable or audible to the guests.

B—What if the guests eat a long shalosh seudos and don’t make Havdalah until well after the z’man at which Shabbos ends. Can the kitchen staff begin doing melacha once the z’man passes?

If the guests choose to add on to Shabbos beyond the z’man of tzeis hakochavim then the same halachos apply as above —but see below in “C”.

C—Would the halacha be different if the guests hold that the z’man for Shabbos to end is 72 minutes after shkiah but the kitchen staff personally hold that the z’man is 50 minutes after shkiah?

In cases “A” and “B”, the halacha was lenient because the Jew chose to add on to Shabbos and create tosfos Shabbos. But if the guests are makpid to not do melacha until 72 minutes after shkiah then that means that they hold Shabbos extends until that time. If so, they may not ask another Jew who holds of an earlier z’man (or a non-Jew) to perform melacha for them nor may then have pleasure from any melacha done for them during that time.


A—A caterer has a hot box plugged in over Shabbos. A non-Jewish waiter tripped over the cord thereby unplugging it and then immediately plugged the hot box back in. Should we say that the waiter plugged the hot box in ada’tah d’nafshey (so that his boss shouldn’t think he’s clumsy) or should we say that it was done for the benefit of the Jewish caterer and Jewish guests?

Rav Schachter held that we should consider the hot box to have been plugged in for the benefit of the Jews and not ada’tah d’nafshey.

B—At the time that the incident occurred, the food was hot and fully cooked. If so, could one argue that the Jews aren’t deriving any real “benefit” from the non-Jew’s plugging the hot box back in since that just allowed the food to retain its heat but didn’t provide any “new” heat to the food at all?

Rav Schachter ruled that the caterer could not serve the food while it is hot and explained his ruling as follows:

אם כבר הי’ נר דלוק כשהדליק נכרי נר נוסף ויכול הייתי לקרוא לאור הנר הקדום, אף שכעת קל טפי לקרות לא מיקרי כה“ג נהנה. אכן בנידון דידן לכאורה מה שלא נתקרר המאכל זהו גופא מיקרי נהנה ממלאכת הנכרי. ומתסברא שצריכים להסיר המאכל מתיבת-החום הזה כמה זמן קודם שמגישים אותו לאורחים כדי שלא יהנו ממלאכת הנכרי.
עברתי על כל זה.
צבי שכטר
עש“ק פ’ אחרי, תשס“ג

Part of a series of questions and answers about the Sabbath that have arisen within the Orthodox Union Kosher Division.

OU Kosher Staff