6. Illnesses which require a Doctors evaluation

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6. Illnesses which require a Doctors evaluation:[1]

Introduction: All ailments which are not listed above [Halacha 4] as being life threatening require evaluation to determine their lethalness. The laws dealing with this evaluation and conflicting opinions will be discussed below.

A. All Doctors which did the evaluation agree that is dangerous:

Any illness of which doctors say is life threatening, even if it is located on the outside of the skin, one is to transgress Shabbos to treat it.

B. What to do in a case of split of opinion amongst two doctors:

If one doctor says that [it is life threatening and thus] Shabbos must be transgressed, while a second doctor says that [it is not life threatening and thus] one does not need to desecrate Shabbos for it, then one is to desecrate Shabbos for it because in a case of doubt that a life is danger we rule leniently [against the prohibition and force Shabbos to be transgressed]. [However see chapter 618 Halacha 4 regarding if the patient himself agrees with the doctor claiming it’s not lethal, as well see there for other cases.]

C. A split opinion between the doctor and patient:[2]

If the patient says that he needs a certain treatment [for his illness to be done on Shabbos as he feels that his illness is life threatening] and the doctor says that he does not require [any immediate medication] then we listen to the patient because [only ones own] heart [truly] knows the [severity of the] pain of his soul. [See Q&A regarding if the patient says that it is not lethal!]

If the doctor claims the treatment requested is damaging: [However] if the doctor says that the requested treatment will damage him [even further], then one is to listen to the doctor.[3]

D. The opinion of a Non-Medical professional:

An amateur says that the illness may be life threatening: [Furthermore] even if there is no professional doctor [giving an opinion] but there is one person which says that he recognizes the sickness and it appears to him that Shabbos needs to be desecrated, then one is to desecrate Shabbos based on his word because every person is considered to be slightly expertise [in the lethalness of illnesses] and in case of doubt that a life is danger we rule leniently.

([Furthermore] even if [the amateur] says that it is questionable whether one needs to desecrate Shabbos, one is to desecrate it if he says he recognizes this illness).

A split of opinion amongst an amateur and medical professional: Nevertheless, [the opinion of the amateur] does not override the opinion of a professional doctor which says that [the illness] does not require Shabbos to be transgressed even if [the amateur] says that it definitely [is life threatening and] needs Shabbos to be transgressed.

The invalidity of the opinion of an amateur gentile: All the above [leniency to take into account the sole opinion of an amateurs] with regards to a Jewish [amateur], however a typical non- medical professional gentile is not considered like a professional to allow one to desecrate Shabbos based on their opinion when there is no Jew around that recognizes this illness.

E. The opinion of a woman or gentile doctor:[4]

If the doctor is a woman or gentile, they have the same status as a Kosher Jew regarding this matter [of determining if the symptom is life threatening or not] whether to be stringent or to be lenient. They are [therefore] believed to even contradict a Jewish religious Doctor [which says that it is not life threatening].


Summary of illnesses which require evaluation:

A condition which a doctor or person says it is life threatening [and the patient gives no opinion[5]]: Any condition which all doctors say is lethal, or if even one Jewish person which recognizes the illness says that it is lethal, or that it may be lethal [having no doctor dissenting his view] one is to desecrate Shabbos for even a wound on the outside of the skin. Furthermore, even if there is a split of opinion amongst two doctors one is to desecrate Shabbos. However, if an amateur says it’s lethal while a doctor says it’s not then we listen to the view of the doctor. As well the opinion of an amateur gentile is never taken into account.[6] [If more than one doctor says that it is not lethal, and there is only one doctor who says that it is lethal, one may not desecrate Shabbos unless the dissenting doctor is a greater medical expert then the opposing doctors. However whenever two doctors claim that it is lethal, they override even a hundred doctors which are greater experts which claim that it is not.[7]] For more detailed cases refer to Hilchos Yom Kippur chapter 618.

If the patient says it is lethal:[8] Then even if the doctor[s] contradicts him one listens to the patient unless the doctor says that the treatment is further damaging to the patient.



May one desecrate Shabbos if he does not know whether the matter is life threatening and there is no Doctor available?

Seemingly, if one suspects that the matter may be life threatening then one may do so.


What is the law if the patient says that the ailment is not lethal?[9]

Then if there is no doctor around which contradicts his statement then one must listen to the patient.



[1] Admur 328:10

[2] Admur 328:12

[3] However regarding Yom Kippur the following is Admur’s ruling in chapter 618:“Any person which is sick and knows that the day is Yom Kippur and nevertheless says that he needs to eat is to be fed even if a hundred doctors say that he does not need to eat, even if they say that the eating will make things worse. The reason for this is because we do not assume that the person is a sinner that will eat on Yom Kippur, thus if he is saying that he needs to eat despite the doctors he must really feel he needs to eat, which is something that only he can feel and not the doctors.” Vetzaruch Iyun!

[4] Admur 618:6 Regarding eating on Yom Kippur. However, see Piskeiy Teshuvos 328:7 regarding other opinions.

[5] Regarding if the patient gives an opinion, see next case regarding if he says it is lethal, and chapter 618 regarding if he says it is not lethal.

[6] Admur 328:10

[7] Chapter 618 Halacha 4-5

[8] Admur 328:12

[9] Ketzos Hashulchan 136

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