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Inviting a Shabbat Driver

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Inviting a non-Shomer Shabbat Guest

Harry Franklin from Los Gatos asked,

Can I invite my friends for a Shabbat meal, knowing that they are going to drive on Shabbat?


Dear Harry,

Your question has to be answered in light of several prohibitions:

  • "Lifnei iver" - "Don't put a stumbling block in front of a blind person," meaning that you should not provide the means for others to violate the Torah.
  • "Meisit" - encouraging someone to transgress.
  • "Mesayaya Ovrei Aveirah" - assisting in a transgression.
Does inviting someone to your house on Shabbat violate any of these prohibitions?

Regarding someone who wanted to organize a Shabbat-minyan for children where the children would arrive by car, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zatzal, ruled that it is forbidden: "Is teaching them about prayer more important than teaching them about Shabbat? This isn't mitzvah-education, it's the opposite, G-d forbid." In a similar case Rabbi Feinstein writes that if it is impossible for the children to come on foot, besides lifnei iver there is the additional prohibition of meisit.

If your question is to be compared to this case of the Shabbat-minyan for children, then no, you could not invite your friends.

On the other hand, we have the ruling of Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, shlita, about a son inviting his parents for Shabbat. Rabbi Sternbuch suggests that "lifnei iver" depends on intentions. Just as a doctor performing an operation isn't violating the commandment against damaging others, here too the son isn't making his parents "stumble." On the contrary, he wants to draw them closer to the Torah. The son isn't telling them to drive, and if possible he should make arrangements so they won't have to drive. But if that's impossible and he feels this will bring them closer to Torah observance, lifnei iver wouldn't seem to apply. By letting them know the importance of Shabbat and the sweetness of keeping it, he will succeed in bringing his parents back to the right path - which is the greatest way to honor them.

Sources:

  • Iggrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 1:98, 3:71.
  • T'shuvot V'hanhagot, Rav Moshe Sternbuch, Orach Chaim 1:358.

 
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