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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.