The Gentile employed in a Jewish household on the Sabbath-day to perform services which are religiously forbidden to Jews on that day. The Shabbat goy's duty is to extinguish the lighted candles or lamps on Friday night, and make a fire in the oven or stove on Sabbath mornings during the cold weather. A poor woman ("Shabbat goyah") often discharges these offices. The hire in olden times was a piece of ḥallah; in modern times, about 10 cents.
According to strict Jewish law, a Jew is not allowed to employ a non-Jew to do work on the Sabbath which is forbidden to a Jew. The rule of the Rabbis is "amirah le-goy shebut" (i.e., "to bid a Gentile to perform work on the Sabbath is still a breach of the Sabbath law," though not so flagrant as performing the work oneself); but under certain circumstances the Rabbis allowed the employment of non-Jews, especially to heat the oven on winter days in northern countries.
Legendary literature contains many instances in which the Shabbat goy was replaced by a Golem. The latest story in which the Shabbat goy plays a rôle is that of K. L. Silman Franco, in Hebrew, in "Aḥiasaf," 5665 (1904-5). Maxim Gorki, the Russian novelist, was once employed as a Shabbat goy by the Jewish colonists in the governments of Kherson and Yekaterinoslav.
- Jacobs, in Jewish Year Book, 5659 (1899), p. 291.