Av 5760 – Inviting Guests If They Might Drive On Shabbos

1 Av 5760

L’chvod HaRav:

I would like to invite my aunt for Shabbos, but she is not religious and lives far away. I know she enjoys coming over in general, and especially for any Jewish occasion. I understand that by inviting her, I would theoretically be making her drive on Shabbos. Is there some way of still making her visits on Shabbos possible? On Friday night she could arrive before Shabbos.

I hope there is a solution to this question, because I feel that her exposure to Torah and yiddishkeit is proving to be beneficial and she no longer sees it all as a big burden, but rather as something that enhances life.

Thank you,

[Seminary withheld upon request]


Dear Miriam,

Thanks for your very interesting question. As I’m sure you realize, in Halacha there is no such thing as “the end justifies the means”. Just because you may possibly be Mekarev someone in the long run, is not a Hetter for you to Chas V’Shalom violate Halacha in the process, nor to cause that person to do an Aveirah that they otherwise would not do. As a matter of fact, Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatza”l has a number of Teshuvos (Iggros Moshe Orach Chaim Vol. 1 Siman 98, for example) dealing with the question of starting a youth Minyan on Shabbos in the interest of being Mekarev the children, when you know some of them will be arriving by car on Shabbos. He states very emphatically this is absolutely not allowed.

However, this is where the person is only doing the Aveirah as a result of your action. If they would not have done it at all, there is an Issur D’Oraysoh of Lifnei Iver. If they would do the Aveirah any way, and you are merely making it easier for them, the Issur is MiDerabonon – that of Misaya Yidei Ovrei Aveirah, assisting someone is doing an Aveirah. If you would invite your aunt and make accommodations for her to come and stay for Shabbos, you are not causing her to do an Aveirah, since she has the option of staying for Shabbos. Even if she declines the invitation to stay and then drives, this is not because of YOU – since she could have accepted the invitation in a manner that would not involve Chillul Shabbos. You would not even be Misaya Yedei Ovrei Aveirah, since it is quite probable that if she would not come to you – she would just drive elsewhere or be Michalel Shabbos at home. Let her at least come to a Shabbos meal, if she’s going to be Michalel Shabbos anyway! Therefore, under these circumstances it would be permitted to invite her.

I heard the above advice from the Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, HaRav Yaakov Weinberg Zatza”l, and have been informed by Rabbonim involved in Kiruv that the Minhag is to rely on this. Consequently, as long as it is clear to her that she is invited to stay until after Shabbos, and there actually are accommodations for this, it is permitted to invite her for the Shabbos meal, even if you know that the likelihood is that she will decline your invitation to stay over.

Take care,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler