Rav Wosner Gives Psak Regarding Lowest Construction Bids For New Shul


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The weekly BaKehilla reports that the rav of a shul asked a question of HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Halevy Wosner Shlita, explaining that a new building was being constructed and after taking bids from contractors the cheapest price was from a non-Jewish contractor.

The rav of the shul asked Rav Wosner if it is preferable to use the non-Jew and save the money, and in this case the sum was considerable, or to have the shul built by a Jew, perhaps giving preference to a Shomer Shabbos Jew.

Rav Wosner explained that l’chatchila; it is preferable to give the job to a Jew but pointed out that not everyone is in agreement concerning this matter. Therefore, if the difference in price between a Jewish contractor and a non-Jew is significant, then the non-Jew should be used to avoid wasting public funds. However, once they approach the finishing of the structure, then a Shomer Shabbos Jew should be hired since a shul has kedusha and it is preferable to have someone working who understands the concept of kedusha, pointing out this is learned in seforim, and doing this will contribute to the success of the shul.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. from the last sentance it seems that the rav said that one should have a shomer shabbos person working. hiring a frum contracter who then hires goyim as workers does not seem to fulfill the requirement.

  2. I believe I read a p’sak from R. Elchonon Wasserman zt”l relating to the early pioneers in Eretz Yisroel. A Jewish owner of an orchard hired Arabs to work and they demanded that he hire Jews. R. Elchonon said that since it is his money he can choose to whom he will hire and pay. Yet if there is no difference Jewish labor is preferable, since there is a mitzvah of helping one’s fellow Jews.

    I can’t remember where I saw it since it has been many years ago that I saw it, so do not accept the above as being exact or even correct, but rather a possible source.

  3. #3, you are partiallyt correct. Rav Elchonon ruled that one must prefer a Jew so long as he is not more anan one sixth more expensive. However, Rav Moshe Avigdor Amiel ruled that being that we are engaged in a national struggle for EY a Jew must be preferred even at a higher cost (if I remember correctly this is in Derishot El Ami) but did not say how much. As for the kablan (contractor) heis the one getting the profits. The workers only get wages and they are his problem – although many kablanim will agree to all-Jewish labor where possible to obtain Jewish workers for an extra payment.

  4. I make a good part of my living correcting problems caused by Arab labor through ineptitude, laziness, and outright malfeasance. It is not cheaper to use Arabs; in the long run it is more expensive. Greedy Jewish contractors who just dream of new corners to cut are also part of the problem. Using anything but honest and competent all Jewish labor IMHO, is machzik yedei reshoim, and money is not a heter to support thieves and enemies.

  5. I like Jewish people; Jewish doctor, Jewish lawyer, Jewish accountant… why not a Jewish contractor? A shadchan is a contactor so that’s almost a contractor, isn’t it?

  6. What about a Jewish contractor who hires, say, ten non-Jewish workers, versus a non-Jewish contractor who hires ten Jewish workers? In the former case one is supporting ten non-Jews. In the latter, ten Jews. As always, printing these piskei halachah from our poskei ha’dor can be very misleading, confusing, etc. Without knowing the sho’el, the exact circumstances of the shi’eilah, and the precise wording of the t’shuvah, is near meaningless and useless.

  7. #5 – I appreciate your expertise in discussing building issues but please leave halacha to those who know mre. I would not ask Rav Wosner how to deal with my crooked walls or bad plumbing but nor would I ask you which builder it is halachically permitted to use.