shabbos candles

The Shabbos Weekly
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Based on the Shiurim Given by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita

developed from the Chabura of the
Pirchei Shoshanim Shulchan Aruch Learning Project

These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita


Questions for the Week of Parshas Chayei Sarah

If one must go to hospital on Shabbos, is there a limit as to what one is permitted to take with? 

The main problem is the carrying of items outside of the eiruv or in a place where there is no eiruv. In order to minimize the problem, one should only take those items that are needed in the hospital for the pikuach nefesh of the ill person. The patient’s ID, medical records, food (when kosher food is not available in the hospital) and basic clothing may be taken with the patient to the hospital. It can be intricate to know exactly what to take and what not, yet the guideline should be that anything that will help towards the patient’s wellbeing should accompany the patient.[1]

What about important items such as a tallis, a sidur, and an extra head covering for a lady?

Since these items are not needed for the sake of pikuach nefesh they should not be taken to hospital on Shabbos when there is no eiruv. This is possibly true even when these items are placed in the same bag or suitcase as the crucial items. [2]

What if there is a gentile on hand to carry the bag?

We must differentiate between a reshus harabim d’oraisso, such as a major town, where although one may request a gentile to violate an issur d’oraisso [3] for the sake of an ill person, but only for things that are very necessary for his wellbeing, and a karmelis, where one may request a gentile to violate an issur d’rabanan for anything necessary for the ill person or for the sake of a mitzvah. [4]

In the latter case it would be permitted to have the gentile carry a tallis or a sidur in a karmelis but in a reshus harabim it might be a problem.

What about carrying items for the person accompanying the ill person, such as food, etc.?

This is far more problematic because it does not relate directly with pikuach nefesh. If the area traversed is a karmelis, where carrying is only an issur d’rabanan, one is permitted to ask a gentile to carry those items for the sake of the person accompanying the patient, because those items are very necessary, but if the area is a reshus harabim it is a problem.

What could be the problem with accompanying a patient when the car is going to the hospital in any case?

Aside for the problems of carrying, as mentioned, there is a problem of adding weight to the car, which causes the driver to burn more gas, as the car is now heavier. If the driver is a gentile, it is permitted because it is all for the benefit of the ill patient. If the driver is a Jew, one may only accompany the patient if one’s presence is needed for the wellbeing of the patient. As mentioned in the previous shiur, it is important that the patient not be worried or fearful and that permits accompanying the patient to the hospital. For example, a woman in labor may need either her mother or husband with her, but if she wants more people to accompany her, she must ask a rav.

If a patient is discharged from hospital on Shabbos, may he return home with a non-Jewish driver?

I must declare that one’s rav must be asked whenever possible. Our intention is to merely make one aware of the various problems.

A Jewish driver may not drive a discharged patient home unless it involves pikuach nefesh, which is highly unlikely.

As for a non-Jewish driver, it depends. If the hospitalized patient can be provided all his or her needs before Shabbos is out, there is no heter to ask a gentile to drive the patient home. If the patient is weak or is not feeling well, one may ask a gentile to drive him or her home because the patient will feel better at home and a gentile may violate even an issur d’oraisso for the sake of an ill person. However, each case is individual and must be carefully weighed.

May one turn on a music cassette in order to make the patient feel at ease?

Even though we must do all we can to ease the patient’s anxiety, this obviously must have its limits and we cannot fulfill the patient’s every whim and fancy. We see in the Shulchan Aruch [5] that when a pregnant woman feels that she must eat on Yom Kippur, one must whisper in her ear that today is Yom Kippur. If that does not calm her down, we dip a spoon etc. in liquid and drip a few drops into her mouth. If that does not calm her down, we feed her less than a shiur. And so on. We see from this halacha that it is not simple to violate prohibitions and the appropriate relationships must be considered.

It is highly unlikely that the only way to ease a patient’s fears is by playing music on Shabbos. Rather one should calm a patient down in a permitted manner and explain that it is preferable not to violate the Shabbos unnecessarily. If indeed it is necessary to alleviate a patient’s anxiety with music, a rav must be consulted.

[1] See the SS”K 40 footnote 137 and chapter 32:22.
[2] Ribui shiurim according to the Ran is ossur mid’oraisso. See the SS”K 40 footnote 138.
[3] Simon 328:17 and M”B 47.
[4] Simon 307:5.
[5] Simon 617:2, and see M”B 4.


Food For Thought

If one knows that one will or might have to go to hospital on Shabbos, is there anything one must do to prepare beforehand?

What if one must sign one’s consent for surgery on Shabbos?

How should one to walk through the electronic doors?

Answers coming next week.

Vort on the Parsha

The Possuk says that “Avraham came and eulogized Sarah”, and Rashi says that he came from Har Hamoriah. Why is it important to know where he came from?

Rav Binyomin Shakovitsky ztz”l explains that it was the basis for Avrohom’s eulogy. Avrohom expounded on Sarah’s virtues by pointing out how she raised a son who was ready to sacrifice himself for the sake of Hashem. It is through her righteousness that he was able to do so and thus Har Hamoriah was the foundation of is eulogy.

For a printed version, click here.


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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.