Inviting Someone Who May Drive on Shabbos?

Photo: Yanki Kahan via

Ask the Rov: Can I invite someone to a Shabbos meal if he may drive on Shabbos?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah

It is prohibited to cause or help another Jew perform an aveira. If he couldn’t do it without your help, your involvement falls under the Torah prohibition of “lifni iver.” If he would be able to do the aveira regardless, any assistance you provide is prohibited midrabanan under “misayei’a lidvar aviera.”1

Acharonim debate whether the issur of mesayei’a applies when dealing with a Yid who isn’t frum and doesn’t follow the mitzvos regardless. However, the Alter Rebbe seems to rule strictly.2

In the case of driving, for someone who doesn’t have a realistic option of walking — due to the distance, weather, age, or the like — the invitation is viewed as causing them to inevitably transgress Shabbos. Reb Moshe Feinstein went so far as to consider inviting such a person as being meisis, inciting someone to do an aveira (which is worse than lifnei iver since you initiated).3

Yet, some poskim permit inviting someone, for the sake of being mekarev him to Torah, so long as one doesn’t actively cause him to desecrate Shabbos. Thus, one may invite the guest to come before Shabbos with an offer to sleep over. Even if the guest chooses not to stay, you are not responsible for his choice.4 Likewise, if the person you wish to invite has a realistic option of walking, you aren’t causing him to sin.

The Rebbe expressed a stringent stance on this issue and instructed that when advertising a Shabbos program, the flyer should note the oxymoron of transgressing Torah to attend a Torah event.5 At the same time, the Rebbe negated the notion of downsizing the event due to this concern (as long as people are told not to transgress Shabbos).6

Similarly, when organizers of a mesibas Shabbos asked the Rebbe whether to stop since some were driving to attend, the Rebbe responded that the organizers should simply emphasize several times that it’s forbidden to drive on Shabbos and that people should only come by foot.7

In practice, one should consult with a unbiased halachic opinion.

See Sources (open PDF)

From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash

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  1. People need to be made aware of these Halachos.

    A senior citizen told me they were invited (and went, RCH”L) to a Yom Tov meal 5 miles from their home.

  2. There is a heter if the person is not religious he will drive to other places anyways so he might as well drive to a shabbos meal

    1. How can you know what he would do? Maybe he will stay home and relax?

      Would you feed him Treif too if that’s what he would eat?

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