The seriously ill patient.

64. A doctor may be driven to visit a seriously or possibly seriously ill patient if this is necessary in order to save life. Alternatively, such a patient may be driven to the doctor or to the hospital. One may drive to a drug-store (pharmacy) to obtain urgently needed medications[102].

65. The patient may be driven to a particular hospital that has his records or which he prefers

(medically but not for financial reasons), even though it be further away than the local hospital[103].

66. If an inside light comes on when the car door is opened, an attempt should be made either to neutralize it or to remove the bulb after having shut the car door (provided that time is not of the essence)[104]. All essential documents such as driving license, insurance, etc may be carried into the car, even where there is no eruv, but this should be done in an unusual manner (under the hat, between clothes or in the shoe). Having reached the patient's destination, the car keys and papers must be left in the car. If however it is likely that leaving the keys in the car would lead to the car being stolen, they may be removed (in an unusual fashion, for example, between two fingers) and carried in an unusual fashion (see above) even where there is no eruv (see also paragraph 69 below)[105]. This may be done even if by so removing the keys from the switch, dashboard or other lights are automatically turned off[106]. If there is an eruv the ignition key may be carried provided it also opens the car door[107].

67. One must drive just as on a weekday so as not to cause any accident[108].

68. After the patient has left the car, one may not drive any further even if as a result the car is left in a "no-parking zone", resulting in a fine. On the hand if this might lead to a traffic hazard or prevent another seriously ill patient from being brought to the hospital or emergency room entrance, the car must be moved away sufficiently to avoid this. If possible, the car should be pushed rather than driven out of the way[109].

69. Car lights may not be extinguished at the end of the journey, unless there is a possibility that the car will be needed for the patient again that Sabbath and will no longer be usable because of a flat battery. The car motor should not be turned off if by so doing dashboard and other lights will also be extinguished, unless not doing so may give rise to a dangerous situation, such as the possibility of a child entering a car whose engine is still running. The engine may then be turned off in an unusual fashion (such as grasping the key between two fingers) (see also paragraph 66 above)[110].

70. A family member, or anyone else who the patient trusts, may accompany the patient to hospital, even if there is already someone present who can render necessary aid, and even if the patient does not request this[111]. If there is no room in the car, and one may be of help to the patient in the hospital, for instance in providing essential information to the receiving doctor, one may drive there in one's own car[112]. The patient may take to the hospital whatever may be necessary for treatment or well-being[113]. If the car enters an enclosed courtyard (where there is an eruv) in order to pick up the patient or to drop him off at the hospital, he may take with him whatever he wishes[114]. Where there is no eruv the articles are to be carried from and into the home and hospital and into and from the car in an unusual fashion (see paragraph 66).

71. The driver or the accompanying person may not return home by any means that involves setting aside Sabbath laws[115]; if it is difficult to remain at the hospital over the Sabbath, one may return home with a non-Jewish driver, if within the city limits[116].

72. If one has to travel in order to bring essential medication for a seriously ill patient, it is preferable, if time is not of the essence, to use public transport (where the driver is a non-Jew). If the medication needs to be brought through a public domain and there is no eruv this should be carried, where practicable, in an unusual fashion (see paragraph 66 above)[117]. See also paragraph 5 above. Regarding payment, see paragraphs 77 and 150 below.

73. Since it is permissible to telephone for an ambulance or cab in order to take a seriously ill patient to hospital, there is no obligation to trouble a Jewish neighbor to do so in his car if this may result in him being unable to return home on the Sabbath (see paragraph 71 above) or if he has to be awakened to do so[118].

74. It is preferable to telephone for a cab driven by a non-Jew rather than drive one's own car for a seriously ill patient. In the former instance the Sabbath is set aside once only, whereas in the latter, Sabbath laws are continuously being set aside as the result of repeated combustion during driving[119]. However, if time is of the essence, even if only probably so, the patient should be driven immediately to the hospital without waiting for a non-Jewish driver. See also paragraph 5 above.

75. A seriously ill woman who has to travel to hospital may do so even if she will be alone with a non-related driver at night, provided that the hospital is in the city, or if the journey is along a well used highway. If however there is no alternative but to use a deserted highway, this is permissible even if there is no close member of the family to accompany her[120].

The non-seriously ill patient.

76. A non-seriously ill patient who badly needs treatment on the Sabbath in a clinic or emergency room and cannot get there on foot, may travel there with a non-Jewish driver [either by flagging down a cab (in the Diaspora), or asking a non-Jew to telephone for one]. If there is no eruv in the city, he may ask the driver to carry from and to the house or clinic, and into and from the car, whatever he needs for his treatment[121].

77. He should try and arrange for the driver to be payed after the Sabbath (even if this means adding a handsome tip). If the driver demands immediate payment, he should try and persuade him to take an article as a pledge. If he does not have such an article or the driver refuses and there is no non-Jewish neighbor who would be willing to pay him, he may show him where his purse is for the driver to take his fee. If this is not practicable, he may pay him but may not accept change or ask for a receipt[122].

78. A non-Jew may be asked to carry a sick child who is not seriously ill through a public domain or to drive him to receive medical attention[123]. See also paragraphs 174-176 below.

79. A non-Jew may be asked to telephone a non-Jewish doctor, drive a patient to a doctor or to purchase medication that he requires on the Sabbath. A patient with severe toothache, may go to a non-Jewish dentist to receive treatment[124] (of course if there is a possibility of infection even a Jewish dentist may be contacted).


[102] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 40:50.

[103] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 40:51.

[104] See Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 40:54.

[105] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 32:54.       

[106] Discouraging future lifesaving in a case of rabbinic prohibition; written communication from R. Y.Y. Neuwirth. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 40, note 129, quotes R. Sh.Z. Auerbach, according to whom stopping the motor only ceases the production of new fire. Therefore, there is certainly room to be permissive in such a case.

[107] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 20:77. See Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 20:83 and note 270.

[108] Oral communication from R. Sh.Z. Auerbach.

[109] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 32:57.

[110] Oral communication from R. Y.Y. Neuwirth. See Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 40:58-60.

[111] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 40:57.

[112] Oral communication from R. Y.Y. Neuwirth. See Nishmat Avraham Pt, 4, Orach Chayyim 306:1 (page 29).

[113] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 40:70.

[114] R. Sh.Z. Auerbach in Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 36, note 18.

[115] Because there is no talmudic source for concern that a Jew would refrain from saving a life in the future. See R. Sh.Z. Auerbach as quoted in Nishmat Avraham Pt. 4, Orach Chayyim 329:1 (page 45).

[116] So that he will save lives in the future; oral communication from R. Y.Y. Neuwirth.

[117] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 32:54.

[118] R. Sh.Z. Auerbach, quoted in Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 40:72.

[119] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 40:69 and note 149.

[120] Oral communication from R. Y.Y. Neuwirth. See Minchat Shelomo Pt. 1, 91:21, quoted in Nishmat Avraham Pt. 4, Even ha-Ezer 22:1 (page 98). See Resp. Iggerot MosheY.D. Pt. 2:82 and Even ha-Ezer Pt. 4:65c.

[121] Oral communication from R. Y.Y. Neuwirth.

[122] Oral communication from R. Y.Y. Neuwirth. See Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 38:13.

[123] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 38:28.

[124] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 38:5.