From the Rav’s Desk: May one perform a raffle on Shabbos or Yom Tov for a children’s gathering

  1. Question: [Thursday, 9th Sivan 5781]

May one do a raffle on Shabbos or Yom Tov for a children’s gathering? Some places are accustomed to do so for all types of children gatherings on Shabbos and Yom Tov for the sake of garnering their interest in attending and behaving during the gathering. I’ve seen this done by children minyanim, on Shavuos by Mivtza Aseres Hadibros, and by Shabbos afternoon activities for the kids. Some places, however, avoid doing the raffle on Shabbos and only do it after Shabbos. What is the proper approach?


To avoid all halachic issues, if one desires to have a raffle by a children’s gathering, then one is to make sure before Shabbos or Yom Tov to cut the raffle tickets that will be distributed, and to only do the raffle after Shabbos, in which case the children will be able to call and discover the winning numbers and claim their prize, and so is done amongst many Frum organizations that have children gatherings. One is not to do the raffle on Shabbos or Yom Tov itself. Nonetheless, those who are lenient to do so for the sake of garnering the children’s interest and attention in order to teach the children Torah and Mitzvos, may have upon whom to rely especially on Yom Tov, and especially if they don’t use raffle tickets but rather a chosen number, even though initially, as we stated, all raffles should be deferred until after Shabbos and Yom Tov.

Explanation: Doing a raffle on Shabbos and Yom Tov for the sake of distributing prizes touches upon two possible prohibitions, one being the prohibition against giving presents out on Shabbos and Yom Tov, and the second being an intrinsic prohibition against doing raffles. Now, while the first prohibition against giving out presents is waived in the event that the present is a food which can be eaten on Shabbos, such as if one is raffling a chocolate bar, [and the same seemingly applies to any item which has a Shabbos use for the child such as a game or toy which can be used on Shabbos], nonetheless, the second prohibition still applies, as the sages prohibited one against doing raffles on Shabbos even to food items being that it is similar to gambling and doing business which is forbidden to be done on Shabbos. Now, although the above is being done for the sake of a mitzvah, to garner the attention of the children for the sake of involving them in a Torah activity, nonetheless, according to most Poskim, we do not waive the raffling prohibition even when done for the sake of a mitzvah, if one is raffling out an actual item. Likewise, it is not clear and unanimous amongst the Poskim that the gifting prohibition is unequivocally waived for the sake of a Mitzvah when the item being gifted is not Shabbos need, even though there are authorities who indeed rule this way. Furthermore, even if we were to agree that the prohibition is waived, it is unclear if the allowance would apply when the item being gifted is not intrinsically a necessary mitzvah item. The above applies equally to Yom Tov, just as it applies to Shabbos. Accordingly, due to all the above, obviously the best route to follow is to simply have the raffle be done after Shabbos and Yom Tov and avoid all the possible Shabbos prohibitions, although nonetheless, those who are lenient, we cannot say that they have nothing to rely upon if it is considered done for the sake of a mitzvah. This leniency especially applies on Yom Tov when there are authorities who hold that a raffle may be done for items that could not have been raffled the day before. Likewise, this leniency especially applies if the raffles been done by simply choosing a number as opposed to choosing a raffle ticket.

Sources: Shevet Halevi 9:78; SSH”K p. 242; Piskeiy Teshuvos 322:10; Shut Hashluchim 1 p. 205;  See regarding the raffling prohibition: Michaber 322:6; Admur 338:6; M”A 322:9; M”B 322:24; Ketzos Hashulchan 146:32 footnote 70 [lenient regarding using Sefer or by heart]; Piskeiy Teshuvos 322:10; See regarding raffling for the sake of a Mitzvah on Shabbos and Yom Tov: M”A 322:9 forbids on Shabbos, and even on Yom Tov if could have done the day before; Nezer Hakodesh, in name of Shevus Yaakov, brought in M”B 322:24; Tzemach Tzedek 26; Ketzos Hashulchan 146:32 footnote 70-71 [is lenient by all needs of Mitzvah]; Piskeiy Teshuvos 322:10; See regarding the prohibition of gifting: Admur 306:15-16; 323:1; 8; 252:12; 261:2; 444:9; 448:16; 517:1; 527:28; Kuntrus Achron 444:2; M”A 306:15 in name of Beis Yosef 527 and Mordechai Beitza 676; Elya Raba 306:19; Tosefes Shabbos 306:20; M”B 306:33; See Mahariy Asad 83; Kesav Sofer 59; Toras Chesed 27; Binyan Shlomo 17; Aruch Hashulchan 306:17; Pischeiy Teshuvah Even Haezer 45:1; Kaf Hachaim 306:44; SSH”K 29:29; Beis Meir E.H. 45; Maharam Shick 24; Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:22; See regarding gifting for the sake of a Mitzvah: Admur 444:9; 448:16; Kuntrus Achron 444:2; 261:2 rules one may not make a Kinyan on Shabbos even for the sake of a Mitzvah, even during Bein Hashmashos. Likewise, Admur 306:15 rules that one may not make something Hekdish on Shabbos, thus implying it is forbidden to do so even for the sake of a Mitzvah. Likewise, the ruling in 306:16 implies that an Esrog may only be given on condition to return. These rulings contradict the above statement of Admur. See Hearos Ubiurim 822 p. 54; M”A ibid in name of Beis Yosef 527 and Mordechai ibid; Elya Raba ibid; M”B ibid; Aruch Hashulchan ibid; Hagahos Chasam Sofer on M”A 306:15; Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:22; Toras Chesed 27 See regarding the allowance for gifting the raffle tickets: Piskeiy Teshuvos 323:6

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