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Reading by Night Light on Shabbos

I am aware of the fact that one may hint to a goy in the correct way on Shabbos to turn off a light in a room. But what if turning off the light will cause a night light to go on, will I be allowed to read from that light? My intention in getting a goy to turn off the main light was obviously for it to be dark in the room, and not for the night light to go on.


Yes, in these circumstances it will be permitted to benefit from the light and read by it.

The reason for this is that the prohibition against benefiting from “maaseh Shabbos” applies only to a direct melachah, and not to something done indirectly (geramah).

Because the night-light was turned on in an indirect manner, it follows that this will not involve a prohibition of “maaseh Shabbos” (see for instance Avnei Nezer 195).

Best wishes.

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  1. Would this still be the din if my intention in asking the goy was to have the night light turned on? Aditionaly, would it still be considered a geramah if the night light turning on was an immediate effect?

    1. It would still be a geramah, and despite the intention it will still be permitted.
      However, the matter of deriving benefit from a gerama of a non-Jew is discussed in detail by Palgei Mayim (1:7), and the principle source for permitting is the Maharshag (1:43) – though there is some debate concerning the matter in poskim.
      Best wishes.

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