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If someone is ill, can they be driven to shul on Shabbat?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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Question:

My mother is the director of an Orthodox Shul, where my family has belonged for generations. My mom suffers from xxxxxx disorder, and cannot walk distances. I am wondering if it is permitted by Halachah for her to drive or be driven to shul for services on Shabbat or the holidays. I want to believe that G-d makes room for my mother. I want to believe that it is most important for her to pray, participate in community events, and to feel the joy of her connection to her faith. Is there any dispensation for such a circumstance? I hate to see her at home alone on Shabbat when she could be experiencing the joy of being among family and friends for shul services. Your advice and feedback would be welcome and appreciated.

Many thanks,

Answer:

I am sorry to hear about your mother’s ailments and I wish her a complete and speedy recovery.

G-d “makes a lot of room” for your mother.

Naturally we may feel “holier” by some of the “inspirational” moments of Shabbat-more so than by simple restraint from “work.” But in G-d’s Shabbat there is no room for “work.”
The way and only one shares space/room with G-d is by following HIS will. We may find something to feel “holy” or “spiritual” for us, and then we begin to think that is what G-d must want too. But the truth is, our human perception of what He may or may not want is not always accurate.

Shabbat belonged to G-d. For six days He created a world for worldly beings. Then He created one day for Himself.

Thousands of years after creation He decided to share this day with His beloved people-the Jews. He “made room” for us in His oasis of time, and gave us the gift of Shabbat.

Come to think of it, what can we finite humans know about G-d’s perception of “rest” or His idea of day to Himself? Not much!

We can only know what He told us. And He told us that to experience His day we must refrain from doing “work.”

Naturally we may feel “holier” by some of the “inspirational” moments of Shabbat-more so than by simple restraint from “work.” But in G-d’s Shabbat there is no room for “work.” And driving in a car on Shabbat is in that category of work.

You should therefore know that through the passive act of NOT going to synagogue because she will not go in a car—she is already entering G-d’s room.

Nonetheless, I can understand your/her desire for her to be with other people on Shabbat, and here are some options:

1) She can move closer to the synagogue (this option is often not reasonable for elderly people).

2) It can be arranged through the community that people should go visit her every Shabbat.

Speak to the Rabbi of her synagogue or a local Chabad Rabbi for implementation of one of the above, or for more, options.


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Shabbat » A Day of Rest

Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Halachah
Jewish Law. All halachah which is applicable today is found in the Code of Jewish Law.
Chabad
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
Shul
(Yiddish) Synagogue.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.