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Under what circumstances is it permitted to desecrate Shabbat?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Holidays » General Information » Forbidden Activities | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Only when a life is in danger is it permitted (and necessary) to desecrate the Shabbat.

[All the laws of the Torah -- with the exception of the prohibitions against idolatry, sexual misconduct, and murder -- are suspended when human life is in danger.]

It is therefore, for example, permitted to do whatever necessary for a person who is seriously ill--drive to the hospital, any and all medical procedures, or even to turn on the heat or air conditioning in the home to keep them comfortable.

It is not necessary to ask a non-Jew to do these "prohibited" acts. There is no greater mitzvah than saving a life
It is not necessary to ask a non-Jew to do these "prohibited" acts. There is no greater Mitzvah than saving a life. These acts should be performed with joy!

And when in doubt whether a life is actually in danger or not -- for example, if you are unsure whether an illness is serious enough to necessitate calling 911 -- don't go running to a rabbi for permission. Jewish law is very clear about this. This is an instance where you are told to act first and ask later!




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Shabbat » Forbidden Activities

(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
(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.
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.