At a recent church meeting opportunity for Tzedakah Ministries, Miss Rose K. told me of a most fascinating incident that happened to her a few month ago. Her Orthodox Jewish neighbor knocked on her door one Saturday morning to ask her a favor. The water on her sprinkler system for lawn would not switch off and Miss Rose was needed to push the button to make the water stop! Miss Rose knew this had something to do with the Jewish prohibition about work but I was there to ask why she was needed to be the “button pusher.” I smiled and explained to Miss Rose that she had become her friend and neighbor’s Shabbos Goy in a time of Sabbath need.
a non-Jew employed by Orthodox Jews to perform services (such as turning lights on and off) which are forbidden to Jews on the Sabbath.
I received permission to tell Miss Rose’s story for two reasons. First, it is a great story and she isn’t alone. There have been other Shabbos Goys and some have been pretty famous! Elvis Presley was one for his neighbor Al Fruchter before he became the King of Rock and Roll. President Obama is also considered worthy of this title for his assistance to a fellow Illinois state senator when business carried over into the weekend.
However, it is the second reason that I am telling you her story that is the most important. As I shared with Miss Rose on Sunday, serving in the role of a Shabbos Goy could open up opportunities to both live out the Gospel of Messiah Jesus and “crack the door open” to a one-on-one discussion about Jesus the Jewish and Gentile Messiah.
For you see, Jesus had an incredible insight in reverse about the idea of Sabbath regulations. It is stated in the Oral Law that one must not work on the Sabbath unless it is to save someone’s life. However, Jesus said in Matthew 5:41 that you can walk 2 miles if a Roman wants to force you. This is not simply about Roman meanness but also expanding the Sabbath boundary of travel which is 0.6 miles for someone else. Jesus was saying literally you might save someone’s spiritual life by letting go of yoursel and your pride.
Why – because they will know us by our love and they will ask us about how we can love enough even to be a lawn sprinkler button pusher!
Therefore, I have a radical suggestion that I have to credit Miss Rose K. for its germination. If you struggle with more overt forms of Jewish evangelism, commit yourself to being an Evangelistic Shabbos Goy.
Let me give you a few suggestions here but contact Tzedakah Ministries for further insights:
- Offer yourself as an errand runner to your more Jewish friends on Saturday and let them know it is because you know they can’t because it is the Saturday.
- When they ask you how you learned about this need – tell them you learned it in church and you want to be an example of Jesus’ love to them. DO NOT BACK DOWN FROM THIS TRUTH!
- Mention Matthew 5:41 to them as it opens a discussion of the Sermon on the Mount and how Jesus is the fulfillment of Torah with them
There are many examples and insights that Tzedakah Ministries can give but this should get you started!