May I order the sunday edition of the NY Times?

Issues I know of:

[1] The Sunday edition actually is delivered on 2 days — Saturday and Sunday. A number of years ago the NYT decided to deliver a portion of the paper on Saturday and a portion of the paper on Sunday, even though it is called the Sunday ny times. It is assumed, I believe, that the NY Times decided to change around its policy because the Sunday edition is so big that is was more practical for them to divide it into two parts. But maybe it was for another reason. Maybe it was because it was determined that the customers preferred it. So I am unable to tell the Rabbis whether or not the NY Times does it for themselves or for their customers.

A person who orders the Sunday NY times is not permitted to have the whole thing delivered on Sunday even if specifically requested. I repeatedly requested they no longer split it up and they wouldn’t do it.

A request may only be made to have only the Sunday portion delivered on Sunday and not the Saturday portion delivered AT ALL with no difference in price. If this request is made then the one who makes the request will never receive the Saturday portion of the Sunday NY TIMES.

[2] Another issue: it is unknown if the majority of the people on the island of Manhttan who have the Sunday NY TIMES delivered to them are Jewish.

[3] I do not know the locations from where the deliveries or the production originates and continues on until it arrives at my home.

Answer:

This is a delicate question of amirah le’akum, instructing a non-Jew in the performance of melachos on Shabbos, and the benefit that one may have from the performance of such melachos.

The principle problem concerning newspapers is their printing. If a newspaper is printed on Shabbos, and the majority readership is Jewish, it would be forbidden to read the newspaper until a sufficient time to print the newspaper has elapsed after Shabbos. However, I would imagine that the majority readership of the NYT is non-Jewish, which would mean that the printing on Shabbos would not forbid reading the newpaper on Shabbos.

Concerning the delivery several issues involved, but it would seem that it is permitted to order the Sunday edition even though it will be delivered on Shabbos, and even though the proportion of Jews receiving the newspaper in the Manhatten area is unknown.The reasons for this are:

1. Because of the presence of local non-Jews, a non-Jew’s delivery of the newspaper is an instrance of marbeh be’shiurim, increasing the “amount” of a melachah on Shabbos. This is permitted (by means of a non-Jew) according to many authorities (see Machaneh Yisrael 31:2; Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah chap. 31, note 71; however, see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 276). It is probable that the only time when the non-Jew performs a melachah for the Jew alone, if at all, is the final placement of the newspaper through the postbox, which might not constitute any melachah. However, this rationale depends on circumstances (local non-Jews; the paper boy’s entry into the yard with all the newspapers).

2. The paper boy probably gets paid per delivery. Because he has been contracted to do the job from before Shabbos, it follows that there is no prohibition on his delivery, because we consider him to be doing it for himself — to get his wages. (See Shulchan Aruch and Rema, Orach Chaim 247:1, Mishnah Berurah 18, and Kaf Hachaim 12; see also Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 31:20; however, see Shraga Ha’meir, vol. 3, no. 103:5).

3. The “instruction” to the delivery boy to deliver the newspaper is amirah le’amirah (there is no direct contact between the subscriber and the delivery boy) before Shabbos, which is permitted (Machazeh Eliyahu, no. 37).

Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah (31:24) rules that if delivered on Shabbos, it would be prohibited to read the newspaper until after Shabbos. This ruling would depend on the validity of the reasons mentioned above. However, even if it is permitted, it is preferable not to read newspapers on Shabbos at all, and it is prohibited to read business pages and advertisements (see Mishnah Berurah 37:63).

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