May a Jew violate an issur d’rabanan for the sake of an ill person?
This section deals
with a person who is defined by Chazal as a
çåìä ùàéï áå ñëðä – 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,
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 îçæéøéï àú äùáø,
which could either mean that one may set a broken bone on Shabbos
(when it does not involve a melacha d’oraisso), or one
may reinstate a shoulder that came out of its socket (or any other
sees that one may violate an issur d’rabanan 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 d’rabanan 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
sees from this gemora that a Jew may not violate an issur
d’rabanan in the normal manner for the sake of an ill person. However,
if the medication is administered b’shinui (in a deviation from
the normal manner) it is permitted.
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
ñëðú àáø, in which case one may violate an issur
d’rabanan 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 one’s 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’ Me’ir
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’ Me’ir.
What is the halacha? How are we to conduct ourselves when the need
The Shulchan Aruch
cites these two opinions (together with another opinion and the
Beis Yosef’s own interpretation of the Rambam) and says
that the halacha is according to the Ramban. The
writes that many Achronim rule in accordance with this opinion.
This means that one
may apply therapy or medication b’shinui, 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 çåìä ùàéï áå ñëðä,
or one with only a slight pain, in which case one may not do anything
and to know what is a melacha d’oraisso and d’rabanan,
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 d’oraisso, Chazal
prohibited medication in almost all its forms on Shabbos lest one
Why would I suspect that one would grind on Shabbos - is it not a bit
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 one’s health, or one might panic and forget that it was
prohibited on Shabbos. Whatever the case, it is ossur.
We will be”H
answer this question next week.