Shabbas Among the Gentiles

Daf 82 (Shabbas 19a-19b)

Summary. A baraisa rules that one may place food before a dog on Shabbas and not be concerned if the dog transfers it to another domain; likewise, we may place food before a gentile. The gemara questions why both rules are necessary. The answer is, “otherwise you might have said that the obligation to feed this one (the dog) is incumbent upon him, but the obligation to feed this one (the gentile) is not incumbent upon him.”

Other baraisa that regulate relations with gentiles are reviewed, including “we may not lay siege to gentile cities less than three days before the Sabbath.”

The gemara returns to consideration of work begun before the Sabbath that sets a process in motion that continues on its own, making a distinction between a process that extracts and a process that transforms– forbidding consumption of a product of the latter process on that Shabbas.

Mishnah. Here are rules regulating when it is no longer permissible to commence roasting meat or bread products on Friday.

Comment. The gemara does not ask why it is necessary to explain that a dog and a gentile are not the same class of creature. Nevertheless, in suggesting that one should afford the gentile the same consideration that one would a dog, they reveal respect for the gentile even at the risk of their own reputation for Sabbath observance: when placing food before a gentile on Shabbas, one is vulnerable to creating the appearance that one is desecrating the Sabbath if the gentile transports the food from one domain to another. Life among the gentiles is perilous both for the laws they impose on us and the laws we impose on ourselves.

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