Obama, Elvis and 5 other famous Shabbos goys

circa 1975:  American popular singer and film star Elvis Presley (1935 - 1977), to his fans the undisputed 'King of Rock 'n' Roll'.  (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

circa 1975: American popular singer and film star Elvis Presley (1935 – 1977), to his fans the undisputed ‘King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)


No, Al Gore didn’t invent Shabbos, but he did facilitate its observance for some members of the Jewish community as a “Shabbos goy.” A group of very sweet stories.

But there is one big error in this article. A Jew who needs something done that s/he can’t do on his/her own is not permitted to ask someone else to perform the task. If the Jew asks then the Gentile who performs the task is the agent of the Jew, who then is effectively performing the task him/herself. The Gentile must take the initiative and perform the task without being asked. In this way the performance of the task becomes a gift and is no longer simply an ordinary job, which is exactly what is prohibited.

Whether “workarounds” like pre-set elevators, electric timers, Shabbos goys or, that earliest of workarounds, the eiruv, damage the spirit of the prohibition of labor on Shabbat or other holy days while upholding the letter of the law is perhaps a discussion for another day.

I believe that the purpose of Jewish law and custom is to facilitate building a sacred space and a sacred time in which a community can become a “kingdom of priests and a holy people.” The rabbis are clear that the mitzvot exist to help us to live, even if for only 1/7 th of our lives, in a place that is closer to the messianic world than is the world we usually inhabit. Laws which make these goals more difficult to achieve, however ancient these laws may be, cry out for re-evaluation and re-interpretation. —Rabbi Kerry Baker

Read referenced article: http://www.jta.org/2016/03/14/news-opinion/united-states/obama-elvis-and-5-other-famous-shabbos-goys

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