Religion Magazine

Interesting Psak: Selling on Amazon

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
Kikar is reporting on an interesting psak regarding someone selling his goods on the Amazon platform, and possibly causing Jews to sin on Shabbos.
Rav Binyamin Chuta, a rav and posek in Betar Ilit, was asked the question. He researched the situation and even spoke with senior executives in Amazon Israel to understand how the system works.
Sales done on Amazon sites all over the world, not including Israel, can rely on those who are lenient to operate on Shabbos because it is done without any involvement of the seller, and it is meant for the non-Jews. Amazon Israel is different, with a majority of Jews, it becomes a problem of causing them to sin.
On most websites, the buyer decides to buy something, puts in his credit card information and personal details, and completes the purchase. The seller then processes the order, and a Jewish seller can process it after Shabbos.
On Amazon, however, things run differently. On Amazon, anyone opening an Amazon store sends his merchandise to the Amazon warehouse, but the merchandise remains his, and he sets the price. When someone buys the product, Amazon collects the money, packs up the goods, and ships it out to the customer. The seller pays some fees to Amazon for shipping and handling and service fees and percentages. Two weeks later Amazon pays the seller the rest of the money via bank transfer. Rav Chuta says that Amazon does all this so the seller will never know who the buyer is, so he later will not be able to cut Amazon out of the future sales and sell directly.
As well, the sale generally only gets processed the next day, and sometimes more, so it is likely that noght is really happening on Shabbos anyway. And, much of the process is automated, and processed by robotic systems. This would make it similar to a vending machine, placed in an area of majority non-Jews, so as long as your intention is to sell to non-Jews, even if a Jew buys on Shabbos, you are not doing anything wrong. On Amazon Israel, however, this is a problem and you cannot have such a store that operates on Shabbos. The only way to do so would be to set vacation mode in the sellers account before every Shabbos, which essentially closes his store for the duration of the vacation.
I like that the rav even gives instructions for setting the account on vacation mode.
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