[Avodah] Gifts on Shabbos

Akiva Miller akivagmiller at gmail.com
Mon Nov 13 17:45:22 PST 2017

I am trying to get a more precise understanding of when it is
assur/mutar to give someone a gift on Shabbos.

Orach Chayim 306 is about all sorts of business activities. Gifts are
a subset of this topic, and Mishne Berura 306:33 writes, "It is also
assur to give a gift to one's friend, because it is similar to buying
and selling, because it leaves his ownership [reshus]. But a gift is
mutar when it is L'tzorech Shabbos V'Yom Tov - as written in 323:7 -
and likewise for L'tzorech Mitzvah... And it also wrote that according
to that, the practice of giving keilim as a gift to a Chasan is

When I turn to Shulchan Aruch 323:7, Mechaber doesn't say anything
about the general laws of giving gifts on Shabbos. He only gives one
particular case: That if one forgot to tovel a keli before Shabbos, so
it cannot be used on Shabbos, he is allowed to give it to a non-Jew as
a gift, and then borrow it back for Shabbos use. Mishne Brura 323:34
explains: "Even though it is assur to give gifts on Shabbos as written
in Siman 306, here it is allowed because of Tzorech Shabbos."

The logic is somewhat circular, I think: 306 refers to 323, and 323
refers to 306. The only clear heter is an interesting one: On the one
hand, it is for a NON-food item (though it is food-related); on the
other hand, it seems to be a b'dieved solution for the person who
either forgot to tovel it before Shabbos, or somehow acquired it from
a non-Jew on Shabbos. I don't see any clear heter to deliberately give
a food gift on Shabbos, and I also don't see any clear prohibition
that non-foods are excluded from being "L'tzorech Shabbos".

Mishne Berurah 306:33 says that it is wrong to give "keilim" as gifts
to a chasan. Rabbi Dovid Ribiat ("The 39 Melochos", page 961) includes
"presenting a Bar Mitzvah boy with a Sefer" in this category. These
examples suggest two rules to me: (1) If the gift will not be used
until after Shabbos (quite likely for the bar mitzvah boy's sefer,
though I have no idea which "kelim" the chasan would receive), then it
is not "letzorech Shabbos". (2) The chasan (or bar mitzvah boy)
presumably gets hanaah from receiving the gift, but that amount of
Oneg Shabbos is not significant enough to count as "letzorech

I offer two specific examples for discussion:

(1) Many shuls offer printed material, such as parsha sheets, weekly
shul bulletins, and even newspapers and magazines. Or someone might
attend a shiur, where the teacher distributes printed handouts of the
source material. Can I take these home to read or learn from on
Shabbos afternoon? Wouldn't this be a Tzorech Shabbos?

(2) Suppose someone is invited to a friend for a Shabbos meal, and he
brings a challah or wine as a gift for the host. The host was not
expecting it and has other food that he was planning to use. Is this
enough of a tzorech Shabbos to transfer ownership? If this host
accepts the gift, is he required to serve the food? In other words, if
"tzorech Shabbos" is indeed a carte blanche for food gifts, does the
food have to actually be eaten?

Akiva Miller

Postscript: It seems to me that this issur of giving gifts applies
only on Shabbos, and *not* on Yom Tov. Consider: You can send a living
behema to your friend on YT, even through a Reshus Harabim, even if
you know that the friend won't shecht it, and the heter is contingent
only on the fact that the friend COULD shecht it. (MB 516:1) You can
even send a pair of tefillin to your friend even though it is not
needed at all for Yom Tov; the only requirements are that the tefillin
are ready-for-use, and that friend gets hanaa from receiving the gift
(MB 516:11-12) That whole siman seems to deal with issues of hotzaah
and muktzeh, and doesn't even mention kinyanim (at least, I didn't see
any such mention). This is very puzzling: Why would there be a
difference between giving gifts on Shabbos and on Yom Tov? If this
could be answered, it might shed light on what "L'tzorech Shabbos"

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