151. Anything that would lead to a need to contravene Sabbath laws may not be done to a patient from Wednesday onwards. Thus the patient should ask for an elective operation to be scheduled, where possible, at the beginning of the week. However if the surgeon's operating day is during the second half of the week, the patient may have the operation on that day[235]. If an elective operation was carried out before the Sabbath when it could have been scheduled for the beginning of the week, the Sabbath must still be set aside, as necessary, for the seriously ill patient[236]. It may possibly even be permitted to prepare a non-seriously ill patient on the Sabbath for surgery scheduled for immediately after the Sabbath, if the preparation only involves Rabbinical prohibitions (for example an enema) and if the operation cannot be postponed to a day later in the week[237]. Similarly, such a patient may fast on the Sabbath in preparation for this surgery, if it cannot be postponed[238].

152. Before the Sabbath, one must make whatever preparations possible in order to avoid unnecessarily contravening Sabbath laws even for a seriously ill patient and it is forbidden to rely on the fact that should the need arise, Sabbath laws may be set aside notwithstanding[239].


[235] R. Sh.Z. Auerbach in Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 32, note 97.

[236] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 32:33.

[237] Written communication from R. Y.Y. Neuwirth. See Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 40:38.

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

[239] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 40:34.

ign:justify' dir="ltr">158. As soon as she feels that she is going to give birth, that is, she has regular contractions or the membranes have ruptured, even if this is only probable, one may phone for an ambulance or cab to take her and an accompanying person to the hospital where she is registered, even if there is another hospital nearby that she can reach on foot. This is provided that she is afraid that the nearby hospital will not accept her, or that there will be delays until she is admitted, or if she thinks that she will get better treatment in the hospital of her choice, or that the obstetricians there are more experienced. Financial considerations, however, may not be taken into consideration. She may take with her whatever is essential for her use on the Sabbath and is not available at the hospital, even if there is no eruv[249] provided they are necessary for her health or for her peace of mind that day[250]. If the car enters an enclosed area, both at her home and at the hospital, she may take with her whatever she wishes[251].

159. However, even though she must be brought to the hospital and all the necessary preparations made for childbirth, whatever may be delayed may not be done until there is cervical dilatation prior to childbirth, bleeding or rupture of membranes, or she is no longer able to walk. Thus, lights may not be lit at home, the air conditioner may not be activated, etc, until one of the above signs of imminent labor are present[252].

160. If, while being driven to the hospital, her labor pains cease to the extent that were she at home she would not have even considered going to the hospital, she must stop the car immediately and go into a nearby house[253]. If the driver is a non-Jew - see the next paragraph.

161. A woman who arrives at the hospital thinking she is about to give birth but is then discharged home on the Sabbath as it was a false alarm, may not return home in a car driven by a Jew. If there is no possibility of her staying nearby until after the termination of the Sabbath, and it is difficult for her to remain in the hospital, she may return home in a car driven by a non-Jew, provided her home is within the city limits[254].

162. During the 72 hours following childbirth, the woman is considered to be in the category of the seriously ill and Sabbath laws may be set aside for her if anyone even with only a slight knowledge of medicine thinks that this is necessary, and even if the patient herself says it is not. Certainly if she requests for something to be done for her well-being, Sabbath laws should be set aside, where possible in an unusual fashion, even though the doctor says it is unnecessary. However if both the patient and either the doctor or midwife say that it is unnecessary for her health, Sabbath laws may not be set aside[255].

163. During the next 4 days (96 hours) following the first three days (paragraph 161 above), she is still considered to be seriously ill. However these days are different from the first three in that Sabbath laws are not set aside at the request of someone not trained in medicine unless the patient agrees or the request comes from the doctor or midwife. If the patient does not express an opinion, then Sabbath laws are set aside, in the absence of the doctor, at the bidding of someone with only a slight knowledge of medicine. If the patient, in contradiction to the doctor's opinion, states that she feels she needs a specific thing to be done for her well-being, Sabbath laws are set aside to do as she wishes, if she is known to be a trustworthy person who holds the sanctity of the Sabbath dear[256].

164. From the eighth day after childbirth (that is after 7 full periods of 24 hours have elapsed) and until the end of thirty days, the patient is considered to be in the category of the non-seriously ill and whatever she needs for her health may be done for her, in an unusual fashion, provided only Rabbinic laws are set aside. A non-Jew may however be asked to do whatever is required for her health, even if Torah laws have to be set aside. Should any complication arise, even if only possibly life threatening, she is treated like any other seriously ill patient[257].


[240] Orach Chayyim 330:1. See Nishmat Avraham Pt. 5, Orach Chayyim 330:2 regarding Maimonides' opinion.

[241] Mishnah Berurah 330: 5. See Resp. Or le-Tsiyyon Pt. 2, pgae 255, note 3; oral communication from R. Sh.Z. Auerbach.

[242] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 36:2.

[243] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 36:5.

[244] Mishnah Berurah 330:1; Ben Ish Chay, First Year, Tetsavveh 14.

[245] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 36:6.

[246] Kaf ha-Chayyim 330:1.

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

[248] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 36:7.

[249] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 36:8.

[250] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 40:70.

[251] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 36, note 18 in the name of R. Sh.Z. Auerbach.

[252] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 36:9.

[253] R. Sh.Z. Auerbach, Minchat Shelomo Pt. 1, 91:21, quoted in Nishmat Avraham Pt. 3, Even ha-Ezer 22:1 (page 98); Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 36:10.              

[254] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 36:10.

[255] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 36:13.

[256] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 36:14.

[257] Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 36:15.