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 Vayeshev

May a Jew violate an issur drabanan for the sake of an ill person? 

This section deals with a person who is defined by Chazal as a one who is bedridden on account of illness, or whose entire body aches even though the person is not lying in bed. In other words, a person whose life is not in danger.

We find several opinions amongst the Rishonim. As we will see, [1] their opinions are derived from the different interpretations of the gemora that deal with the treatment of the ill.

The gemora in Avodah Zarah 29a writes about a certain medical condition where the Unkli (tonsils Aruch) would obstruct the esophagus, and the Rambam writes (2:10) that one may raise the Unkli on Shabbos.

A gemora in Shabbos 148a says that , which could either mean that one may set a broken bone on Shabbos (when it does not involve a melacha doraisso), or one may reinstate a shoulder that came out of its socket (or any other limb). [2]

The Rambam sees that one may violate an issur drabanan for the sake of an ill person on Shabbos.

On the other hand, the Ramban interprets these gemoras differently and says that in both cases the limb is in danger and that is why one may violate an issur drabanan in the normal manner, but when a limb is not in danger the halacha is different.

The gemora in Shabbos 134a cites the Chachamim who say that one may not mix wine and oil vigorously on Shabbos for the sake of an ill person. [3] The Ramban [4] sees from this gemora that a Jew may not violate an issur drabanan in the normal manner for the sake of an ill person. However, if the medication is administered bshinui (in a deviation from the normal manner) it is permitted. [5] 

How does the Ramban explain the gemora of raising the Unkli, is it not proof that one may apply a therapy on Shabbos? 

The Maggid Mishne says that the Ramban understands that the Unkli presents a danger to the organ, which is defined as a , in which case one may violate an issur drabanan in the normal manner, unlike a case of an ill person when a limb is not endangered (Rashi in Avodah Zarah understands the case mentioned there with regards to ears as one in danger of causing damage to ones ears).  

How would the Rambam explain the gemora of the oil and wine? 

Previously we only mentioned the opinion of the Chachamim but in fact R Meir argues and holds that one may mix the oil and wine in the regular manner, and the Maggid Mishne says that the Rambam paskens in this case like R Meir. 

What is the halacha? How are we to conduct ourselves when the need arises? 

The Shulchan Aruch cites these two opinions (together with another opinion and the Beis Yosefs own interpretation of the Rambam) and says that the halacha is according to the Ramban. The Mishna Berura [6] writes that many Achronim rule in accordance with this opinion.

This means that one may apply therapy or medication bshinui, when it involves a regular ill person, and one may apply therapy or medication in the regular fashion when a limb is endangered. 

This is quite complicated because one would need to be well versed in medicine and halacha in order not to make a mistake. 

This indeed requires one to define the status of the patient, i.e. ill to the point of being classified as a , or one with only a slight pain, in which case one may not do anything [7] and to know what is a melacha doraisso and drabanan, and how to implement a shinui. The only way to know the latter is by learning hilchos Shabbos, and no, there are no shortcuts.  

When is one permitted to take tablets on Shabbos? 

One might ask as to what is the problem with taking tablets, being that it does not involve a melacha in any way. The answer is that since medication is produced mainly from herbs that are ground into fine particles which is an issur doraisso, Chazal prohibited medication in almost all its forms on Shabbos lest one grind herbs.  

Why would I suspect that one would grind on Shabbos - is it not a bit far-fetched? 

Chazal were masters of understanding human nature, and since one often gets flustered when something is physically wrong, Chazal were concerned that one would rationalize a melacha being done for the sake of ones health, or one might panic and forget that it was prohibited on Shabbos. Whatever the case, it is ossur.

We will beH answer this question next week.

[1] Based on the Beis Yosef in simon 328:17.
[2] It is a machlokes haposkim who explain this gemora, between the MA and other poskim. See the MB 328:145.
[3] It is something that is only done for the sake of an ill person and is considered medication on Shabbos.
[4] Toras HaAdam in Shaar HaMichush, cited in the Beis Yosef and the Maggid Mishne (2:10).
[5] The gemora there says that one may place the oil and the wine separately or mix them gently.
[6] Simon 328:57.
[7] Simon 328:1.


Food For Thought

When may one take tablets on Shabbos? 

What is the halacha with regards to taking vitamins on Shabbos? 

What about the use of creams and lotions on rashes etc? 

May a doctor turn on his otoscope on Shabbos?

Answers coming next week.

Vort on the Parsha

The Meshech Chochma writes that Hashem purposely arranged for the wine minister and the baking minister to be locked up together with Yosef in order for him to learn from them and be acquainted with the ways of the kings, being that he was destined to rule shortly thereafter. It is for this reason that they dreamed three days before Pharaohs birthday and not before (they were judged on Pharaohs birthday and the verdicts were passed and implemented that very day). Had they dreamed during the early days of imprisonment, the baking minister upon hearing the sinister interpretation to his dream would have refused to continue teaching Yosef all he knew. Part of the objective of him being there was for that very purpose.

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.