Askmoses-A Jews Resource
What are the Three Themes of Rosh Hashanah?
Browse our archives

The Scholar is ready to answer your question. Click the button below to chat now.

Scholar Online:

Type in your question here:

Click the button below to either CHAT LIVE with an AskMoses Scholar now - or - leave a message if no Scholar is currently online.


How can selling aliyahs be permitted on Shabbat & holidays if business transactions are prohibited?

by Rabbi Simcha Bart


Library » Torah » Reading of the Torah | Subscribe | What is RSS?



I understand that doing business transactions on holidays and Shabbat is prohibited. I am looking for an explanation that can justify Rabbis selling aliyahs and rallying for donations on Yom Kippur. It has always seemed like a contradiction to me.


Good question!

There is a subtle but significant difference between a business transaction and selling aliyahs: the latter is essentially a pledge to donate Tzedakah and not a real bill of sale. Herein lies the reason why auctioning off synagogue privileges is permitted on a Shabbat or holiday.

Jewish Law discusses the concept of what is considered a business transaction, which is prohibited on Shabbat. There are many details concerning these rules; here are a few:

Promising to give Tzedakah is not considered true business because it is beneficial to the donor as well - for example the upkeep of the Synagogue (which he too will enjoy) - therefore it is considered as if the donation is not truly leaving his own possession.

Another consideration is that there is no actual transference of an object from one person's possession to another in exchange for the promise of money - rather the person is receiving an honor.

All of this only applies when no actual money is changing hands - for if it was, then that would be prohibited.

This is, as mentioned above, a complex area of Jewish Law. If you would like to study this further, you can find this topic discussed in Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Orach Chayim, chapter 306, par 16.


Please email me when new comments are posted (you must be  logged in).


Holidays » Yom Kippur
Shabbat » Forbidden Activities
Shabbat » Reading of the Torah » Torah Reading

(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
"Tzedakah," commonly translated as charity, literally means righteousness, or the right thing to do. Giving to those in need is one of the most important of G-d's commandments.
Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.