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How do Jews and Christians justify getting someone else to do work not allowed for Jews or Christians?

Short Answer: There is no justification for this behavior. (5/21/2011)

How do some Jews rationalize having someone else come in and turn on the lights on the Sabbath in view of the commandment to keep the Sabbath holy? Are some Christians guilty of the same reasoning?
As we all know, I’m not an authority on rabbinical law (or much of anything else); however, here’s what I found.

The Mishneh Torah is a codification of Jewish religious law written between 1170 and 1180 A.D. (per Wikipedia) by one of history’s foremost rabbis, Maimonides. We are going to assume here that whatever Maimonides said on the topic of Sabbath Law is definitive for Jews.

The commandment sounds fairly straightforward: Don’t work; don’t make your family work; don’t make your servant work; don’t make your livestock work; don’t make anybody else work. Unfortunately, the issue of working on the Sabbath gets complicated by three equally straightforward questions: What is work? To whom does the commandment apply? What about “good” works?

Consequently Maimonides devoted 30 chapters to the Sabbath; I didn’t read them all. From what I did read, this seems to be the story, bearing in mind that it is a radical simplification of a hugely complicated issue:
I didn’t read all thirty chapters, but I did search the Mishneh Torah site for “Gentile” and “Sabbath.” I found no justification for the practice of hiring Gentiles for the specific job of doing work on the Sabbath. In fact, it seems directly contrary to Bullets 1 and 2 and to the “stranger“ wording of the commandment.

Jews are not alone in this kind of loophole logic. I read an article in the paper a few days ago called “Enjoy eternity in heaven knowing your pet is safe,” by John Kelly of the Washington Post. It turns out that there is a website – and it was still working as of 8:08 a.m. MDT, May 21, 2011 – which for $135 plus $20 per pet guarantees to rescue your abandoned pet anywhere in the USA within 24 hours of the Rapture.

This is related to the topic of Gentile work on the Sabbath because the owner of Eternal Earthbound Pets is Bart Centre, an atheist, who says he is in no danger of being Raptured. All of his people are atheists who undergo a background check: they must blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

Let’s ignore the questions of whether pets go to heaven and of whether you think a person who is willing to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is trustworthy.

Instead, let’s think about you and me and other Christian pet lovers. Is it okay with God that we hire a non-believer to blaspheme the Holy Spirit expressly in order not to be saved, in order to do a job that we are unwilling to do?

No, brothers and sisters, it’s not okay with God. God has repeatedly, in both the Old and New Testaments, expressed the longing that everyone – Jew, Gentile, sinner (okay, a redundancy), idolater, agnostic, or atheist: everyone – turn to him and be saved. If I hire some guy to do something that is expressly forbidden by the Law, the sin is mine as well as his, and I will have a lot of explaining to do when Judgment Day really does come.

Copyright 2011, 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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