Chapter 330

Chapter 330

The Laws of a Yoledes on Shabbos

Halacha 1

Like a dangerously ill person: A Yoledes [woman in labor] is [considered] like a dangerously ill person and one [thus] is to desecrate Shabbos on her behalf for all of her needs. [Thus the following may be done:]

Calling a midwife: One may call a midwife for her from one place to another.

Helping her give birth: One may help her give birth.

Turning on the light: At night one may light a candle for her. [Furthermore] even if she is blind and even if the other women which are assisting her do not require this candle, as they are able to fully assist her without a candle, [nevertheless] one lights a candle for her.

The reason: as although she [the patient] cannot see she becomes more calm upon knowing that there is light here, as she tells herself that if there is anything that she needs my friends can see and can do so for me. However if she were to know that there is no candle here then there is worry that she will become endangered due to fear in her heart, as she will fear that perhaps the assistors are not doing properly what she needs done.

The requirement to use an irregularity upon desecration: Nevertheless [despite the fact that she is considered like a dangerously ill patient], since the pain of a Yoledes is natural and not [even] 1 of 1000 die from childbirth, therefore the Sages were stringent to require one to change [from his way of normally doing the action needed of desecrating Shabbos] in whatever he is able to change in it.   

For example: If one needs to bring the woman a vessel through a public area then her assistant should bring it through tying it to her hair which is carrying in an irregular way and does not contain a Biblical prohibition. The same applies for all cases of the like.

If she [the Yoledes] needs oil then her friend should not smear oil on her hair and then come to her [the Yoledes] and squeeze the oil out, rather she should bring it in a vessel which is hanging on her hair, as it is better to carry [the oil] with a vessel in an irregular way, without any other prohibition, then to add in doing the squeezing prohibition, even though that squeezing hair is only Rabbinically forbidden as was explained in chapter 326 [Halacha 5]. 

Halacha 2

Being a midwife for a gentile woman: One may not assist a gentile to give birth even if the needed assistance does not involve desecrating Shabbos, such as [in a case that] the baby has already detached [from the womb and begun] to exit, in which case removing it does not involve [the prohibition of] uprooting an item from its area of growth. Furthermore, [even] if the Jewish woman is a known midwife and she receives payment [for assisting in birth], in which case it is permitted for her during weekdays to assist gentile women in giving birth due to [that refusing to do so will cause] enmity, nevertheless on Shabbos [since] there is no enmity [involved in refusing to assist, and thus it remains forbidden to help a gentile woman give birth].    

The reason that there is no enmity on Shabbos is because: the Jewish midwife is able to excuse herself [from assisting without causing hatred] by saying “Our women which keep Shabbos are permitted to be assisted in giving birth on Shabbos, however your women which do not keep Shabbos it is forbidden for us to assist them in giving birth”.

The Law by an Arab woman: [Furthermore] even an Arab woman, which is not an idolater, (and there is thus no prohibition to assist them in giving birth during the week as there is by idolatress gentiles in which it was forbidden due to that she is assisting a idolatress child to be born, nevertheless on Shabbos) it is forbidden [to assist her] due to it being an unnecessary act, as will be explained in Chapter 332 [Halacha 1], (being that it is possible to excuse oneself from giving assistance without causing hatred).

The law by Karite women: However the Karaim since they keep Shabbos it is permitted to assist them in giving birth (in exchange for reward [and only] in matters that do not contain desecration of Shabbos. [This may be done] due to enmity)

 If one is not able to excuse himself without causing enmity: Even by idolatress gentile women if it is impossible to excuse oneself [from assisting] without causing enmity, it is permitted [to assist] in matters that do not contain desecration of Shabbos.


Halacha 3

The definition of a Yoledes: From when is a [woman] defined as a Yoledes [in the process of giving birth] to be allowed to desecrate Shabbos [on her behalf]? From when she sits on the birthing stool[1], or from the time that the blood is drooling out, or from the time that her friends [have to] carry her by her arms due to her not having strength to walk.

Once any of the above has begun to occur one is [allowed] to desecrate Shabbos on her behalf for all her needs which are able to be done now without delay[2].

Calling a midwife: However to call a midwife from place to place which is a matter which takes time and delay is permitted to be done prior to this [i.e. to her reaching the above mentioned state] from the time that she feels a little [need to give birth], even if she is in doubt. 

Preparing matters from before Shabbos: It is proper to beware that when the 9th month arrives one prepares all [the matters that would require desecration in the event she were to give birth on Shabbos] from before Shabbos in order so they will not be required to desecrate Shabbos. 


Halacha 4:

Desecrating Shabbos for a woman which is after birth:

First three days after birth: Throughout the entire first three days after birth the Yoledes is considered like a definite dangerously ill person.

The reason for this is because: her limbs are loose and she is physically crushed. 

The allowance to desecrate Shabbos without the orders of an expert: Therefore one is to desecrate Shabbos on her behalf even if she claims that it is unnecessary but her comrades claim that she needs it. Even if there is no midwife or doctor amongst them one is to do for her all her needs, as the matters that are done for a Yoledes during the week are well known to all. Even if she eats the foods of other [healthy] people [and thus it appears that she is healthy] we say that [this is because] she temporarily does not feel [her ill state], but [in truth] if she were to eat cold foods or other foods that a dangerously ill person refrains from eating, she would fall in danger.

Not to desecrate Shabbos if medical experts say it’s unnecessary: However if a midwife or a doctor say that there is no need to desecrate Shabbos, [the comrades] are to listen to them.

The reason for this is: because there are many Yoldos which do not have hot food made for them daily, and so is the custom today in some places that they eat on Shabbos the foods heated from the day before.

Halacha 5:

After 3 days but before 7 days after birth:

From [after] three [days after birth] until the end of the seventh [day], if she says “I do not need [Shabbos desecrated] “ then it is not to be desecrated even if her comrades claim that she does need [it done].

The reason for this is: because she is no longer considered endangered with regards to those matters which her comrades commonly do for her during the week, and it is [thus] possible for her to wait until the night [after Shabbos to have those things done].

If a midwife or doctor say she needs an action done: The above is with exception to if a midwife or doctor say that she needs [Shabbos desecrated for her], in which case Shabbos is likewise desecrated for other ill patients, as was written in chapter 328 [Halacha 10]. 

If the Yoledes does not voice an opinion: All the above is when she claims that she does not need Shabbos desecrated, however ordinarily when she does not voice an opinion and her comrades do not know [if she needs it done or not], then Shabbos is desecrated [for her]. However if her comrades say that she does not need [Shabbos desecrated], then it is not to be desecrated.

If the Yoledes claims she needs Shabbos desecrated: However the above is with exception to if she says “I do need [Shabbos desecrated] “, in which case even if 100 doctors say she does not need Shabbos desecrated, [nevertheless] it is to be desecrated.

The reason for why she is believed over the doctors is: because one’s own heart knows the bitterness of his soul, and as will be explained in chapter 618 [Halacha 1] regarding other ill patients. 

From after seven days:

From the end of seven days and onwards, even if she says she needs [Shabbos desecrated], it is not to be desecrated for her behalf. Rather she is considered until thirty days like a non-dangerously ill person, of which all their needs may be done by a gentile, with exception to the matter of a heater of which if she needs it, it is to be done by a Jew being that feeling cold is a danger for her for the entire duration of the thirty days, and even in the time of Tamuz.

Regarding if others are allowed to warm up opposite this bonfire [which was heated for her] was explained in Chapter 276 [Halacha 13].


Halacha 6:

How to calculate the 7 days:

These [above mentioned]  days are not counted through 24 hours [per day], but rather if she gave birth on Wednesday close to night, then when the entrance of night of Shabbos arrives, it is already the fourth day from her birth, even though she had not completed three 24 hour days until close to the night of Shabbos.

The same applies for [calculating] the seven days and thirty days.


Halacha 7:

The law if a woman died r”l during childbirth:

A woman which sat on the birthing stool and died, one is to bring a knife on Shabbos even through a public property, and tear her stomach and take out the baby as perhaps [the baby] will be found alive

The reason for why we suspect that he is alive: Now, although majority of times the infant dies prior to the mother, nevertheless by the danger of a life we do not follow the majority, and at times it is able to live after its mother’s death. Now, although this infant never had a living status, Shabbos is to be desecrated due to doubt just as one who did have a living status.

The reason for why today we are no longer accustomed to tear the mothers stomach: The reason that [cutting the mother’s stomach] is not in practice today even during the week is because  we are no longer expert in the mother’s death to such close proximity that the child still can live, as [we suspect that] perhaps she fainted and if her stomach were to be torn she will die, and thus one needs to wait [to verify whether she has died or merely fainted] and until then the child has certainly died.


Halacha 8:

What may be done for the new born on Shabbos?

The child which is born on Shabbos may have all of his needs done for him.

One may:

1. Bathe him,

2. Salt him in order so his flesh harden,

3. Bury the placenta in order to warm the infant[3],

4. Cut the umbilical cord,

As all these matters the infant has pain from them if they are not done for him, and since they do not contain any Biblical work the Sages allowed it [to be done].

If the child was born prematurely:

Certainly born in 7th or 9th: The above allowance applies by a livable baby, which is defined as a baby which was for certain born in the ninth or seventh [month] (such as if the husband separated from her after [the original] marital relations [which got her pregnant]).

Questionably or Certainly born in 8th: However if the child was born in the eighth month, or if it is questionable whether it was born after seventh or eighth, then one does not desecrate Shabbos for him whether for the above matters, whether for matters which lack of performing can endanger him, such as to undo a mound that is over him, unless his hair and nails have completed growing, in which case he certainly was fully developed by the seventh months and it just delayed leaving his mother’s womb after having been fully developed.  Therefore even if he is for certain born in the eighth, such as if her husband separated from her after having marital relations, his status is like one who was born in the seventh month for all matters and he is [thus] to be circumcised on Shabbos.

However if his hair was smitten and his nails are not complete when born, then even if he is questionably a child of the eighth month, his ruling is like one who is for certain of the eighth month for all matters. Furthermore even regarding life threatening matters in which one [is ordinarily allowed to] desecrate [even] when there is a doubt, even by a fetus which never had a living status due that we suspect that perhaps he has developed enough months and his hair and nails are complete, nevertheless here where we see that [his nails and hair] are not complete it is close to certain that he was born in the eighth [month], [and he] would not have been complete until the ninth month, and he hurried to be born prior to the time and he is a stillborn.

Moving the eighth month baby who did not complete his nails/hair: Even to move such a baby is forbidden the same way it is forbidden to move a stone. Therefore one does not circumcise this child on Shabbos.

The reason he is not allowed to be circumcised on Shabbos: We do not say let us circumcise the child in any event as if the child is a seventh month old then his circumcision overrules Shabbos and if he is an eighth month child then there is no Shabbos desecration here in the circumcision, as it is like merely cutting meat. [The reason for this is] as since it is close to certain that it is an eighth month child the Sages did not want to allow moving him on behalf of his circumcision in a scenario where it is close to certain that his circumcision is meaningless.

Other Opinions: There are those which argue on this and say that since it is possible that he is a seventh month child and all seventh month children are not stillborns despite that their hair and nails have not fully developed, therefore there is no prohibition at all to carry him on Shabbos, and so too he is to be circumcised on Shabbos in any event.

According to all cannot desecrate Shabbos for this child: However one may not desecrate Shabbos for him according to all whether for matters in which there is danger [for the child] if they are not done, whether for matters that [the Sages] permitted to do for the child on the day that he was born due to his pain even though that [doing these actions] do not contain a Biblical prohibition.

The custom today-To circumcise and move babies born in eighth: Based on this [latter] opinion today we circumcise all children even if he was born in the eighth month as we are not expert in the months of pregnancy as at times a woman conceives near her immersion and at times she does not conceive until later and it is possible that the child is a seventh month child, and even though that his hair and nails have not fully developed he is to be circumcised, and so too it is permitted to move him on Shabbos. 

The Final Ruling: (Regarding the final ruling in a Rabbinical matter one follows the lenient opinion and therefore one who is lenient to move the child like the latter opinion does not lose [following religious law], however with regards to circumcision on Shabbos it is better to sit and do nothing, as it is proper to suspect for the words of the forbidding opinions, [as] although there is no prohibition in moving the child there is a prohibition in circumcising the child on Shabbos for no need as similarly there is a prohibition in cutting the umbilical cord on Shabbos even according to the latter opinion as was explained [above].)

Halacha 9:

Is it permitted for a woman to squeeze out milk from her breast:

Even a child which is for certain an eighth month [child], which is [therefore] forbidden to move according to all, his mother may bend over him and nurse him due to the pain of the milk which pains her.

Similarly she herself may remove with her hands the milk which is causing her pain.

The reason for this allowance is: as since this milk is going to waste it does not contain the [Biblical] detaching prohibition but rather [only] the Rabbinical, and due to her pain they did not decree [against removing it].


Halacha 10:

Straightening the child’s limbs:

One may straighten the limbs of a livable child which have dislocated due to the pain of the birth. However this is only allowed to be done on the day of the birth, however afterwards it is forbidden.

The reason for this is: because it appears like building.

To wrap him in his clothing: However to wrap him in his clothing in order to straighten his limbs is always permitted as this is the ordinary way of doing things during the week and it does not appear like building on Shabbos. However an infant which is not wrapped during the week and his limbs have bent on Shabbos, it is forbidden to wrap him in order to straighten them. 


Halacha 11

Lifting up the foreskin of the throat:

If the foreskin of the throat of the infant fell it is permitted to place a finger into his mouth and remove the foreskin to its place even though that at times this will cause him to vomit.


[1] A birthing stool is a stool which has been specifically designed for use during childbirth. It allows a woman to sit or squat while giving birth with support to help her if she begins to feel fatigued. 

[2] Meaning that those matters which do not take time to do may only be done from when she reaches this state.

[3] This had a supernatural effect in warming the child [M”B]

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