502. Renting Tools for Use on Shabbos

73:10 Utensils that are used to perform acts of labor (melacha), such as a plow, may not be rented to a non-Jew on Friday. (Some say this only applies to utensils used to perform Biblically-prohibited forms of labor but not rabbinic acts of labor – Bi’ur Halacha 246:1 s.v. k’gon machrisha.) Even though we are not required to keep our utensils from being used on Shabbos, since the Jew receives payment for the use of his tool, and since it was rented on Friday, it looks as if the non-Jew is acting as the agent of the tool’s Jewish owner. One may rent such an object on Thursday, while lending it is permitted even on Friday so long as the non-Jew removes the item from the Jew’s property before Shabbos begins. This is permitted even if the Jew lends the object with a stipulation that the non-Jew reciprocate with a similar loan at some point in the future. Despite such a stipulation, this arrangement is not considered tantamount to renting. If a utensil is not used to perform acts of labor, it may be rented to a non-Jew even on Friday, provided that the non-Jew removes the item from the Jew’s property before Shabbos begins. (A utensil that is not used for an act of labor may be lent to a non-Jew even on Shabbos – Bi’ur Halacha 246:1 s.v. u’mutar l’hashil.)

73:11 One may rent utensils to a non-Jew in the ways described in the previous few halachos so long as he does not accept payment specifically for use on Shabbos. Rather, the payment for use on Shabbos should be included among payment for use on other days, such as for a week or a month’s use. The Jew tells the non-Jew, “The rate is such-and-such” per week or per month, or even for two or three days. He may not accept a rental fee for Shabbos itself; this is true even if the Jew rented for a whole year but counted each day as a separate rental fee. For example, if he says, “I am renting you this for a year (or a month) at the rate of such and such per day,” this is prohibited. This is because, even though the non-Jew pays for the entire rental period at one time, the Jew may not accept payment for rental on Shabbos. This is true even for utensils that are not used for acts of labor, and even for rental on a room to live in. (Not everyone agrees that the case of renting daily for a year is probematic; see Mishnah Brurah 306:20.)