Shiur#14: Bi-Khedei She-Ya'asu

  • Rav Moshe Taragin
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Talmudic Methodology
Yeshivat Har Etzion


Lecture #14: Bi-Khedei She-Ya'asu


By Rav Moshe Taragin



The gemara in Beitza (24b) claims that if a gentile performs melakha (forbidden work) on behalf of a Jew on Shabbat or holiday, the Jew may not benefit from that service on the day proper, and even after that Shabbat or holiday, he must wait the amount of time it took to perform the melakha before benefiting from it. 


The basis concept - known as "bi-khedei she-ya'asu" – is debated between Rashi and Tosafot.  The latter claim that the entire principle is merely a deterrent against initiating requests for forbidden melakha.  Knowing that no benefit can be derived from the request discourages lodging one in the first place.  Whatever is accomplished by the gentile during Shabbat or chag is to no avail since an equivalent amount of time must transpire after the day is over before benefiting. 


Rashi claims that the prohibition is far more substantive.  FUNDAMENTALLY, no benefit may be derived from melakha of Shabbat or chag; by waiting a commensurate amount of time, no benefit will be received. 


Various applications of this issur are raised amongst the Rishonim.  It is quite clear that according to Tosafot any situation which might invite future infraction is a candidate for the bi-khedei she-ya'asu principle.  Where no concern exists because the likelihood of future violation is slim, bi-khedei she-ya'asu is not necessary.  For example, only the Jew on whose behalf the melakha was performed must wait be-khedei she-ya'asu, while others may partake immediately after Shabbat. 


According to Rashi, however, the parameters of this principle are less evident, as the nature of the underlying prohibition is unclear. What would Rashi say regarding other people benefiting from the melakha; may they partake immediately after chag and before bi-khedei she-ya'asu?  Presumably the khedei she-ya'asu principle pertains to the intended beneficiary.  He may not receive benefit from yom tov activity and must therefore wait an equivalent amount of time.  Alternatively, we may redefine the issue of non-benefit from a melakha violation.  Perhaps the prohibition surrounds the actual ITEM which has been prepared on the chag, as opposed to the PERSON for whom the melakha is performed.  The gemara in Chullin (15) cites the position of R. Yochanan Ha-Sandlar, who claims that items cooked on Shabbat are forbidden to ingest at any time.  He claims that just as Shabbat is sacred, the items prepared on that day are as well.  Clearly, this extreme position discerns a Biblical prohibition pertaining to the ITEM itself, and not just a restriction against a person benefiting from Shabbat activity.  Although we do not accept R. Yochanan's radical stance, Rashi's definition of be-khedei she-ya'asu may be a moderated version of this theory; the ITEM which has been invested with Shabbat resources may not be benefited from until the duration of 'melakha time' has elapsed.  If this is true, we may prohibit ANYONE from benefiting from the melakha, and not merely the one for whom the melakha was performed. 


Another issue which may be impacted by the understanding of Rashi's issur is the amount of time which must elapse in order to fulfill the requirement of bi-khedei she-ya'asu.  Should the person wait the entire amount of time for the process to be performed or only the time it took for the element of issur within the process to elapse?


For example, if the gentile traveled a distance to pick a fruit for the Jew, should the Jew wait after shabbat a few seconds – the time it would take to pick a fruit, or should he wait a few hours, to include travel time?  The Rishonim who cite Rashi are uncertain regarding this issue and Rashi himself provides little indication.  If Rashi defines the prohibition as "person based," or an "issur gavra," the beneficiary may have to wait the entire duration, since the entire process is what yielded him benefit.  However, if the prohibition defines the item as a forbidden Shabbat element, the object would no longer be defined as Shabbat produce after waiting the time it took to perform the actual issur alone. If Rashi's prohibition is meant to define items as containing yom tov kedusha, waiting the time it took for the infraction to take place would probably be sufficient to eliminate that status. 


A related situation concerns the question of melakha which is not objectively necessary to yield benefit, although in a particular situation, it did contribute to the process.  The gemara in Eruvin (40a) describes gentile gardeners who would provide Jews with flowers on Shabbat.  Rava claimed that the full period of be-khedei she-ya'asu must elapse before deriving benefit from fragrance.  The Ran in Beitza (14a in the pages of the Ri"f) questions this rule, since the forbidden melakha - picking the flower - was not absolutely necessary to enable smelling its fragrance.  According to many positions in the gemara (Sukka 37b), non-edible flowers may be smelled on Shabbat even when still attached.  The Ran justifies Rava's ruling since the particular recipient in question, was reliant upon the act of picking for his ultimate benefit.  As he was not near the location of the flowers, he would never have been able to smell them without prior picking.  He must therefore wait be-khedei she-ya'asu before deriving benefit from the fragrance.  Be-khedei she-ya'asu obtains if the melakha contributed to the experience, even if it was not absolutely necessary in order to derive benefit.  The Ran justifies this subjective perspective by adopting Tosafot's view of the issur of be-khdei she-ya'asu; any time an infraction assists a Jew, he must "wait out" the equivalent time to avoid any incentive to premeditate Yom Tov violation. 


We are left to wonder whether Rashi would agree with the Ran's view.  Would the objective irrelevance of picking flowers for fragrance exempt from be-khedei she-ya'asu, or would the subjective contribution still warrant this rule?  Presumably the question would revolve around how Rashi defines the principle of be-khedei she-ya'asu. If the person himself is forbidden from benefitting from forbidden melakha, we may again scrutinize the specific situation and instruct distance from any subjective benefit assisted by Yom Tov activity.  However, if melakha of Yom Tov imposes a status of issur upon an item, we may follow a more objective standard; only melakhot absolutely necessary to facilitate the universal experience in question would confer issur status to the item.


A final question pertaining to Rashi's position is the question of the applicability of the be-khedei she-ya'asu principle when items were illegally transported on chag form outside the techum.  Should the rule apply even to this unique law of chag?  Rishonim are split over this issue; the Terumot Ha-deshen and Tosafot deny the application of principle, while the Mordechai and the Rif (in a teshuva) apply it. 


Rashi's statements are vague, but again we may infer his conclusion based on the nature of this prohibition.  If the person may not receive any benefit from Yom Tov manipulation, we may extend the rule to all forms of Yom Tov melakha, even the case of techum.  However, if the violation confers an issur status upon the object of the melakha, the issur applies in situations in which the melakha transformed the item.  Fruit picked on chag is transformed into prohibited food since the melakha produced detached fruit.  Violation of techumim transportation, which does not alter the physical or chemical properties of the item, may not be the type of Yom Tov violation capable of rendering an issur upon the object.