09. Partnerships, Stocks, and Banks

If a Jew and a non-Jew have joint ownership of a store or factory, they must agree when they enter into the partnership that the non-Jew will be responsible for the store on Shabbat and all of that day’s earnings will be his, while the Jew will be responsible for the store on a designated weekday and all of that day’s earnings will be his. For the remainder of the week, they may split the earnings evenly. This assumes that the owners keep track of the store’s daily earnings so that these calculations can be made. If each day’s profit is roughly similar or cannot be determined, they may split all the profits evenly. Then it is assumed that each partner collects the earnings of the day when the store is his sole responsibility (SA 245:1; SAH ad loc. 5; MB ad loc. 5-6; Igrot Moshe, OĤ 2:65).[12]

This is all, of course, on condition that it is known that they are partners, so there is no concern that observers will think that the non-Jew is working for the Jew. Alternatively, the partnership is permissible if it is common to have profit-sharing arrangements in this type of business.[13]

One may purchase stock in a company that is managed by non-Jews and does business on Shabbat, because the non-Jews running the company on Shabbat are doing so for their own profit. The Jew’s profit is a byproduct (SA 245:4). Even when it is likely that the company employs Jews who desecrate Shabbat as part of their work, a stockholder is not responsible for this. Those Jews are desecrating Shabbat in any case, so buying stock does not directly abet their Shabbat desecration (see above, n. 9). However, if the company is run by Jews, or if the majority of its work is done by Jews who are desecrating Shabbat, a stockholder would become a partner in Shabbat desecration. Thus, one may not purchase stock in such a company.[14]

If a bank is under Jewish ownership and has non-Jewish clients, it may enter into an agreement with a bank under non-Jewish ownership specifying that on Shabbat the non-Jewish bank will take care of all necessary transactions for the Jewish bank’s non-Jewish clients. The non-Jewish bank is not viewed as working for Jews on Shabbat; since it profits from each transaction, it is viewed as working for its own profit (Melamed Le-ho’il 1:33).[15]

[12]. What if they did not initially make this agreement? When they come to divide the profits, the Jew may not say to the non-Jew, “You take the profits from Shabbat, and I will take the profits from one of the weekdays.” The non-Jew would then be considered the Jew’s shali’aĥ on Shabbat, because the Jew would receive the profits from the given weekday as a direct result of the non-Jew’s Shabbat work. If they wish to split the profits equally, without stating explicitly that the Jew has worked on a weekday to make up for the non-Jew having worked on Shabbat, they may not do so according to Rambam and SA 245:1, but according to Rosh it is permitted. Rema permits as well if one would otherwise incur a major financial loss.All of this is relevant to a business in which the two partners do not generally both work at the same time and thus the non-Jew’s work on Shabbat is in addition to the evenly-divided work during the week. In such a case, the non-Jew is considered the shali’aĥ of the Jew, which is prohibited. However, if it is a business in which they do generally work at the same time, and the non-Jew wants to work alone on Shabbat, the Jew may split the profits with the non-Jew, as the non-Jew is considered like a sharecropper in this case. Since he is working for his half of the profits, he is not viewed as the Jew’s shali’aĥ (Rema 245:1; MB ad loc. 9-11).

If the store’s sales on Shabbat are double the volume on weekdays, the partners should agree from the outset that Shabbat profits will belong to the non-Jew, while the profits from two of the weekdays will go to the Jew.

[13]. If it is impossible to publicize the fact that the non-Jew is a contractor or sharecropper, then as long as the non-Jew is a minor partner in addition to being a contractor or sharecropper, marit ayin is not a problem (Responsa Maharam Schick, OĤ 97). This is also quoted as the ruling of R. Yosef Shalom Elyashiv in Orĥot Shabbat ch. 23 n. 376. However, Orĥot Shabbat qualifies this, explaining that it works only when the business does not need the non-Jew to work on Shabbat. Nevertheless, as we saw in n. 10, many disagree with this and are lenient. In a time of need, one may rely upon them. When a major financial loss is involved, all would allow leniency, as explained in n. 8.

[14]. See Minĥat Yitzhak 3:1, 3:31:2, and Amira Le-nokhri ch. 67. Yalkut Yosef vol. 2, p. 130 permits the purchase of stock in a Jewish company that does business on Shabbat, on condition that the stocks are bought after they have already been traded, i.e., from a previous shareholder. Since the company is open on Shabbat in any case, buying its stock did not cause it to do any additional work. In contrast, buying initial shares is forbidden. Even though the company will work on Shabbat in any case, this purchase aids in the commission of a transgression. In my humble opinion, one should be stringent even about buying shares from a shareholder, as shareholders are in some sense partners in the company. Accordingly, if the company is Jewish, the shareholder is a partner in Shabbat desecration. In any case, under pressing circumstances, the lenient opinions may be used in combination with others.

One may place a limit order (an order to buy or sell stocks when they reach a certain price), even though non-Jewish brokers might end up buying or selling the stocks on Shabbat. Since the stocks could hit the threshold at any time, he has not specified that the non-Jews work for him on Shabbat. Therefore, the brokers are making the purchase in order to earn their percentages. See Amira Le-nokhri 67:6, which rules stringently in this case.

[15]. One may receive daily interest on money that is held in a Jewish-owned bank (assuming the bank uses a heter iska – a method of restructuring a loan as an investment). Even though one’s account receives interest on Shabbat, this is not considered earning money on Shabbat. Since the bank considers a day to start in the afternoon, the interest accrued on Shabbat is subsumed within the interest accrued from Friday and Saturday night (aee above, 22:14 and n. 9.) If one signs a standing direct deposit or direct withdrawal order at a non-Jewish bank in which the money will be transferred according to secular dates and occasionally on Shabbat, it is preferable that he let the bank workers know that he does not need the transaction to take place on the exact date, and that from his perspective it is acceptable if they do it a day earlier or later. Then, even if they execute the transaction on Shabbat, they are doing so for their own convenience (Ĥeshev Ha-efod 3:51).

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