Childbirth on Shabbos and Yom Tov

Childbirth on Shabbos and Yom Tov

The Halachos of Childbirth on Shabbos and Yom Tov


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A woman goes into labor... and a child is born… on Shabbos! Childbirth on Shabbos can be a complicated subject.This article will tell you everything you need to know about childbirth on shabbos and the relevant halachos.

A person might feel uncomfortable with the thought of desecrating Shabbos, even if it’s allowed. But they don’t need to be worried. ‘HaShem gave us a Torah saying that Pikuach Nefesh during the time of giving birth, as seen below, overrides anything else and isn’t considered desecrating Shabbos. On the contrary, this is a form of keeping Shabbos! How so? The real observance of Shabbos is for the Yidden. And more Yidden in this world bolsters the observance of Shabbos.

‘Be'Ezras Hashem, the birth should be smooth, and with the bracha of Hashem and our Bitachon we should hear good news. Bitachon is probably the most powerful ingredient. Having all the knowledge and being prepared beforehand helps the Bitachon, tranquility and calmness.

Every woman's health, pregnancies, and labors are different. This booklet is intended for a standard/typical pregnancy, labor and delivery. If a woman has any health conditions or atypical circumstances she should call her own Rav.

Please note: The halachos below apply for both Shabbos and Yom Tov, unless specified as Shabbos only.


General Halachos


1. Q. Can a woman take prenatal vitamins on Shabbos during the nine months of pregnancy?

A. It’s better to take it before/after Shabbos. Otherwise, she should at least mix the medication with food, which makes it like eating regular food. If both are not possible, then taking the medicine in the regular way is permitted.

Explanation: Chazal made a rule against taking medication on Shabbos, because when it comes to medicine, people don’t act like themselves. (It’s a question if vitamins are considered medication, so this is just referring to actual medication.) Chazal were concerned that in the panic to get their medicine, people would forget about Shabbos and grind up the herbs they needed, thus violating a de'oraisah melacha of tochen, grinding on Shabbos. That’s why a general rule was made: no medicine on Shabbos.

2. Q. Are there any exceptions to the rule of no medicine on Shabbos? What about during childbirth?

A.There are many exceptions to this rule. When talking about childbirth where one can violate Shabbos outright, certainly the prohibition against medicine on Shabbos is lifted, and it's permitted even for someone who is sick without any danger attached. Any person who's actually sick in the regular sense, not a healthy person who's taking medicine, may take medicine on Shabbos.

3. Q. On Shabbos, if someone needs advice about what type of procedure to do or about a surgery that’s being proposed, can one call a Rav from a different time zone to ask him?

A. Yes, but with a shinui.

4. Q. What is a shinui?

A. Doing a melacha in a way that's completely different from the usual way of doing the melacha.

Explanation: The idea of a shinoy is not a license to allow a person to do a melacha on Shabbos- it’s allowed only in specific cases of extreme necessity. A shinoy makes the melacha descend into a lower level; when a Min Ha’Torah melacha is done Kili'acher Yad, not in the normal way, it’s considered only an Isur D’Rabanan which in some cases would be permissible.

People often think that if they’re right-handed and they do something with their left hand it’s considered a shinoy. This only applies, however, to fine motor skills which someone would never use their left hand for. For example, writing specifically with one’s left hand (in a case where the melacha with a shinoy is allowed) would be considered an acceptable shinoy, but ripping something would not, because it isn’t something that normally is only done with the right hand. For melachos where it doesn't make much of a difference whether the right or left hand is used, one should do the melacha in a backwards, unusual way, such as with the back of the hand or the elbow.

It’s important to note that in reference to labor and childbirth, whenever it’s recommended to do a melacha with a shinoy - how to make a phone call, how to hang up, how to drive, etc - that’s only when time allows for it. If heavy labor is on the way or there's a sign of danger for the mother or baby, one must do things in the speediest and obviously safest manner, as if it’s happening on a weekday.

5. Q. If it’s permitted to be Mechalel Shabbos for the sake of Pikuach Nefesh, why must the melacha be done with a shinoy?

A.Childbirth is a natural process. Obviously, there's an issue of danger, but that’s part of the way Hashem set the nature of this world. As the poskim say: One in a thousand, chas veshalom, pass away as a result of childbirth. It's unusual that something should happen, and therefore, although it is permitted to “desecrate Shabbos”, it should be done with a shinoy wherever possible.

Note: We’re actually keeping Shabbos when doing these things, but for clarity’s sake, the term “desecrate” is being used here.

6. Q. At what point is a woman allowed to have a non-Jew do melacha for her?

A. Any choleh, any sick person- even if they’re not in any danger whatsoever- from someone who is under the weather, to someone who can’t get out of bed - is allowed to have a non-Jew doing melacha for them on Shabbos.

7. Q. At what point is Chilul Shabbos permissible for a woman in childbirth or someone who is helping her?

A. Shulchan aruch tells us 4 signs which put a woman in childbirth in the category where Chilul Shabbos is permissible for her. These are also the signs associated with the onset of tumas nidah.

1.When she can't walk anymore and needs someone to carry her. In today's day and age, there are many women who can actually walk straight through childbirth. So this sign is referring to such a late stage in childbirth which would, in theory, be that stage where she can't walk anymore and needs assistance.

2 When she's sitting on the birthing stool. There are many women who don't use a birthing stool, but this is just referring to the pushing stage where she would already be on one.

3. When she's bleeding.

4. When contractions are coming consistently, or in a regular pattern every few minutes.

With any of these 4 signs, chilul  Shabbos is permissible without a shinoy(although it should be done with a shinoy if possible).


Traveling to the Hospital


8. Q. What, if possible, should be prepared in advance to minimize Chilul Shabbos?

A. Halacha mentions that when it comes to the ninth month, it’s advisable to prepare everything in advance to minimize the Shabbos chilul. It’s important to register in advance at the hospital and pack all personal items that will be needed. If it looks like one will need to go on Shabbos or Yom Tov, a non- Jewish driver should be arranged beforehand. The payment should be settled in advance also, and the numbers of the taxi and the doctor should be written down and kept in a non-muktzah place. The lights should be on in places where one may need the lights, for example the garage, so that it won’t be necessary to turn them on during Shabbos. Babysitting arrangements should also be arranged before. There’s even a halacha that if it looks like the birth will happen very soon, one should travel to the hospital before Shabbos begins. Of course, this is only if the birth seems imminent and about to happen.

9. Q. At what point can a woman call the doctor and go to the hospital?

A.The same as during the week. The gemara speaks about when one is allowed to travel out of the Shabbos t'chum to fetch the midwife. The woman cannot wait until the last minute - the midwife has to be there earlier. The equivalent of that nowadays is calling the doctor and actually going to the hospital. We don’t wait until the woman is on the birthing stool, because she needs to get to the hospital earlier.

10. Q. How should one go about calling the doctor to let him know they’re coming?

A. The phone call to the doctor or hospital should be done with a shinoy, if that’s possible and it’s not a rush for time. It's best to use a smartphone, as opposed to a regular phone, because a smartphone causes a lot less shailos on Shabbos. If using a house phone, one should take the phone off the cradle with the back of their hand. Conversation should be kept to a minimum - "hello" and "thank you" are allowed, but anything else which isn’t necessary should not be spoken about.

11. Q. How should one go about traveling to the hospital on Shabbos or Yom Tov?

The best is to use a Shabbos taxi, which is arranged in

advance. The driver knows that he's supposed to open and close the doors, carry the bags to and from the taxi, and not to ask for payment at that time. If that wasn’t arranged, you can also call the Shabbos taxi on Shabbos.

For a Shabbos taxi in New York you can call Rainbow Car Service: 718.498.4444. You call and say you're a Jewish patient, you're going to the hospital and mention the account code: Chesed. This service is available for any stable patient and in non-life threatening situations where a person may need to go to the hospital on Shabbos.

Obviously, in a case of emergency, call Hatzalah:

718.387.1750 or call 911.

12. Q. In places where there is no Shabbos Taxi, is it better to call a taxi service or an Uber?

A. Uber

Explanation: If it's a regular taxi versus an Uber, they both don't know any halachic conditions - for example, the driver might not want to carry bags, which would mean the woman carrying on Shabbos. In that case, it's certainly better to use an Uber, which doesn’t require a phone call and can be ordered through an app. If time is of the essence, then whichever way is fastest should be used.

13. Q. Can a woman take her bag along to the hospital?

A.She can only take what she needs for Shabbos. To avoid doing extra melachos, it's preferable to put everything in one bag. It’s also preferable to ask the non-Jew to carry it, even if it’s not a Shabbos taxi. They might be amenable, especially if they see that it’s a woman in childbirth.

If the driver refuses to take the bag, one should carry it in an unusual way, to differentiate it from regular carrying.

14. Q. Who is allowed to go along to the hospital?

A.The husband is allowed to go along to the hospital if the woman needs her husband's support. She can also have two support people (such as her husband and the doula) and they should all go in the same car. But to have a whole team of people - the husband, mother, mother-in-law, sister - would be not allowed on Shabbos/Yom Tov. Only someone whose presence is absolutely necessary can join.

15. Q. Why is a support person allowed to go along if he can’t provide any medical support? How is that Pikuach Nefesh?

A.Even if the woman doesn't need their assistance from a medical point of view, the fact that the person will come along is a calming factor for her.

Explanation: The gemara says that one is allowed to light a candle for a blind woman giving birth. That’s because even a blind woman will feel calmer when she knows that the people looking after her have light and can see what they're doing.

The calmness and relaxation of the patient is of primary importance - the gemara knew this hundreds of years before the science that knows about it today. That's one of the reasons why a support person is allowed to accompany the woman - because she'll be much more calm and relaxed that way. Again, as in the previous question of 2 support people versus a whole team; that shouldn't be overdone.

16. Q. If the woman is already in a state of nidah and needs to be helped into the car, can her husband help her?

A.If there’s no one else around, her husband is allowed to help her. He should use gloves and try to avoid touching. If it’s possible to ask someone else to help, that should be done.

17. Q. If the woman or her husband are the ones driving to the hospital, what should be done with the car once they get to the hospital?

A. If a person has no choice but to drive himself - he has no other arrangements, he wasn’t able to get a non-Jew - then he is allowed to drive. When he comes to the hospital, he can put the car in a parked position, but he can't turn off the ignition or the lights. He can't close the door because that's going to turn the lights off. The only option is to find a non-Jew, ask him to take the car and park it, and to return the keys after Shabbos. That's one of the reasons, among others, why it's always best to have a non-Jewish arrangement for driving on Shabbos.

18. Q. Is it permitted to drive to a more distant hospital (i.e. not the closest community hospital) if the woman will feel more comfortable there?

A. Yes.

Explanation: Theoretically, one should go to the nearest hospital in order to avoid unnecessary distances, which includes more driving. Every time the gas pedal is pressed, it's more melacha, more lighting fire on Shabbos. However, the woman might not be calm and comfortable at all if she's giving birth in a different hospital than she’s used to or registered in. In order for her to receive the best care possible, driving a further distance is allowed.

19. Q. A woman came to the hospital and discovered it was false labor. The hospital won’t admit her and she has no food. Is she allowed to be driven home? Is her husband allowed to be driven home?

A.In this case, she may be driven home by a non-Jew. The husband may not be driven home, unless the woman feels she needs the support of her husband.He may also be driven home with her if the walk back from the hospital is not safe by foot.


Melacha in the Hospital


20. Q. How should one go about signing forms in the hospital?

A. If a woman has a medical condition and it's important that the hospital staff knows about it, all that information should be written and handed over in advance. If the person taking the woman’s information is not Jewish, which is the typical case in America, one is certainly allowed to give over their information, even though as a result a non-Jew will be signing a form. If it’s someone Jewish, which happens a lot in Israel, the woman should try to explain to them that it's Shabbos and that she doesn’t want them to be Shabbos mechalel. If they say: “Sorry, that's the process, and this person is doing it,” then the woman is allowed to give over her information. In today's day and age, many of the intake forms are signed using a computer or tablet, which makes it much easier than actually writing on Shabbos.

Written forms are usually used with unique medical situations. Of course, it's not a time to play shtick. If a woman is asked to sign a form, she should sign it with a shinoy. Even better is just to scribble something, and avoid actually forming letters unless it’s absolutely necessary.

21. Q. If the hospital requires the woman or her husband’s picture be taken for security purposes, what should be done?

A. Again, this is something the person has no choice in. The hospital employee is taking the picture; the patient or her husband aren’t actually doing anything to make the picture happen. That’s why it’s allowed on Shabbos, if necessary.

22. Q. Is one allowed to carry in a hospital?


Explanation: Some people are machmir not to carry in a hospital. According to halacha, however, there’s no problem of carrying in a hospital both on Shabbos and Yom Kippur.

23. Q. If a support person is coming in and out of the hospital, may they wear a hospital bracelet?

A. Not in the regular way.

Explanation: On Shabbos and Yom Kippur, one cannot wear the hospital bracelet outside of the hospital, because it's not something that is usually worn. If one wants to wear it, it can be worn only as an accessory to the clothes- to close the cuff or the like ( i.e. similar to a belt for the shirt sleeve, instead of using cuff buttons). It is also a good idea to be careful to make the bracelet just loose enough that it can be slipped on and off if needed.

24. Q. If the bathrooms in the hospital are all electronically operated- there are sensors that turn on and off the light, flush, etc- what can the woman or anyone with her (husband, doula) do?

A. Normally, in most hospitals, the restrooms for the patient are not like that. If they are, then the patient can certainly use the bathroom there.

The ones for visitors, however, are more often electronically operated. The visitor has to make every effort they can to go find another bathroom, even going to a different building, to avoid using an electronically operated one.

Where there's no choice, and the person has to go to the bathroom, he may use the electronically operated bathroom, even though he’s only a visitor and not a patient. This is because kavod habrios, the respect and human dignity, is very important. It's even stronger than some prohibitions.

In addition, the use of electricity in this case is M'derabanan and not a direct halacha. If he can, the person should try to do things with a shinoy.

25. Q. May one rip toilet paper on Shabbos?

A. If a person - even a healthy person- is in a bathroom where there's no cut toilet paper, they are allowed to cut it with a shinoy. For example, cutting a piece with an elbow, while being careful not to cut on the lines.

26. Q.Is one permitted to use an electronically operated sink?

A. It’s better not to, unless it’s really necessary. Even if a person wants to wash their hands in order to make a bracha, this scenario should be treated as if there is no water- in which case halacha says to wipe their hands on something, for example, a towel or shirt. Of course, if there’s an option to fill up water from somewhere else, that would be the best.

27. Q. Can a woman during or after birth press a call button to call the nurse?

A. woman who's giving birth is certainly allowed to call for help with a button.

After birth, she's still in a state of danger. She can use the call button, she should just do it with a shinoy.

28. Q. Can a woman adjust the bed during or after labor?

A.Yes. The woman’s comfort is extremely important. After labor, it should be done with a shinoy.




Note: This is a general outlook. Each woman’s situation is unique, and an induction may be needed in your situation. Please call your own Rav for your own personal situation.

29. Q. Can one plan an induction for Erev  Shabbos or Yom Tov?

A.. Not for Tisha Beav or Erev Shabbos, Shabbos, Yom Tov, Yom Kippur. It can be planned for the other fast days.

Explanation: One is not supposed to plan an induction within three days of Shabbos or Yom Tov unless it is medically necessary.

30. Q. If it’s a false labor and the doctor gives two options: either an induction or the woman will be sent home - is it better to induce?

A.If the woman is feeling fine, then it’s better to go home on Shabbos with a non-Jew than to be induced on Shabbos. If the woman is having a long labor or is at risk for a C-section, then she can get induced.

Explanation: Inductions should not be done unless really necessary. There are many reasons for this, including: it puts the woman in a state of sakanah, and it interferes with a process that Hashem created.


Melacha During Labor and Birth


31. Q. Can a woman listen to music during labor on Shabbos?

A.If a woman needs music during labor, she should prepare the music before Shabbos and have it playing. If it was not prepared before Shabbos she can ask a non-Jew to turn it on for her. If she’s already at a stage where chilul Shabbos is allowed- she’s pushing, she’s bleeding, etc- then she's allowed to turn on the music herself. It should be done, if possible, with a shinoy- for example with the elbow or the back of a hand.

32.Q. Can a woman in labor shower for relaxation? Can she shower or take a bath to take away pain?

A.If it’s for relaxation, it shouldn’t be done unless a non-Jew turns on the water or she does it with a shinoy. If it’s to take away pain, it’s allowed to be done on Shabbos even without a non-Jew or a shinoy, if those aren’t possible.

33. Q. If a woman wants to use a warm compress, either during labor or after birth because of pain, and she wasn’t able to get them prepared in advance, what can she do?

A. She can take a cloth, ideally synthetic, and make it wet. But she should make sure not to squeeze it, because that would be forbidden on Shabbos, unless it’s absolutely necessary and can’t be done with a shinoy.

34. Q. Is a hot water bottle permitted to be used to ease the pain either during labor or after birth?


Explanation: Usually, a hot water bottle is a problem on Shabbos because it falls under medication, which isn’t allowed. But as mentioned earlier, for someone who's not well, medication is not a problem on Shabbos.

35. Q. Can a C-section be scheduled for Shabbos?

A.One is not supposed to plan a C-section within three days of Shabbos or Yom Tov. If there’s a situation of danger, however, there’s no choice and it must be done. A signature is often required before a C-section, and as mentioned earlier, it should be done with a shinoy and not writing each letter the correct way.

36. Q. Do all these halachos apply in the case of a miscarriage or stillborn?

A.Yes- usually these are stages of sakanah, danger, and therefore everything that has to be done to the mother the same way as a regular birth.

37. Q. Can a D&C procedure be scheduled for Shabbos?

A.Only if it's a danger to delay it past Shabbos. This is only referring to a D&C that is scheduled in advance.

Note: This is a general outlook. For your own specific shailos, call your own personal Rav.

38. Q. Can a support person benefit from chilul shabbos? For example, if there's ice from an electronic machine in the hospital, can the husband benefit from it, too?

A.It depends.

Explanation: There is a principle in halacha called ner ,lechad ner l'meah- a candle for one is a candle for 100. There's no real difference in how many people are in the room; they're all benefiting from the same candle. The gemara says that if a ramp is being built for a boat, it makes no difference how many people are on the boat; there’s one ramp for everyone.

But it’s different when it comes to cooking, or heating up water: for one person, it's one cup of water; for two people, it's two cups. If there’s a concern that someone might add and do something extra for the healthy person, the healthy person may not benefit, even if it wasn't done for them; even if it was done only for the sick person. The healthy person may only benefit from something that was done for the sick person Ee efshar leharbos, it’s not possible to increase it and there’s therefore no concern that the non- Jew will do something extra for the extra person.


Melacha Post-Birth


39. Q. Is a couple allowed to make arrangements for the nurse to call their parents on Shabbos to let them know what’s going on, or if the baby is a boy or girl?

A. There's really no heter to do that. That's unnecessary chilul Shabbos.

Explanation: The parents do not need to know if it's a boy or girl, and nothing is going to happen if they don't make a kiddush or shalom zachor. They don't need to know what's going on either, and arranging that someone will call usually just creates extra anxiety and worry until that person calls. There can be extreme circumstances where there might be a heter to make a phone call for a parent, but that's not the normal case.

40. Q. How is Shabbos chilul for a woman after childbirth done?

A.Within 3 days after childbirth: A woman within 3 days of childbirth is considered to be in the state of misakanos bvadai, in a certain state of danger. How are the three days counted? We don't count according to 24 hours. For example, if the baby was born on Wednesday night after sunset, we count Thursday as day 1, Friday as day 2, and Shabbos is within three days. This is also true if the baby was born on Thursday 10 minutes before sunset. Here also, Thursday is day 1, Friday is day 2, and even though the Thursday day was only 10 minutes, Shabbos is still day 3. During these three days, one is allowed to be mechalel Shabbos for anything that's normally done for a woman after birth, even if she says she doesn't need it. One doesn’t have to wait for her to say that she needs something to happen to her, that she needs this form of Shabbos chilul. If other people say she needs it, it's also good enough. This is provided that there's no doctor or nurse that comes and says that it's totally not needed. Still, although Shabbos chilul is permissible, it's better if pushing buttons or turning the hot water on for the shower can be done with a shinoy. It makes no difference whether the woman herself or the person helping her does it. If something isn’t really necessary, it shouldn’t be done. For example, although preparing hot food is allowed to be done, it usually isn’t really needed.

Within 3-7 days after childbirth: If the baby was born on Wednesday or earlier, Shabbos would fall out after the first three days. All the forms of Shabbos chilul mentioned earlier may be done with a shinoy, but only if the woman or her doctor say she needs it done. Within 30 days after childbirth: Within 30 days, even if the woman says that she needs it done, one is not allowed to be Shabbos mechalel because she's not in a state of danger anymore because of childbirth. It could be that she’s in a state of danger because of something else, but in general, after childbirth there’s no danger after 7 days. A melacha done through a non-Jew is a different story. But to be Shabbos mechalel directly would not be allowed.

41. Q. Can a woman use material to keep herself clean after birth?

A.Yes. It's best to use synthetic material, so there are no problems with squeezing.

42. Q. A woman has just given birth. Her baby is in the NICU. How can the husband or parents visit on Shabbos if it will entail using the elevator and automatic doors?

A.When it comes to using the elevator on Shabbos, it’s obviously best to use the stairs. However, a woman who just gave birth will likely not be able to use the stairs. Also, the steps often have a sensor that turns the lights on by the person's movement. In that case, a non-Jew needs to go along, so it isn’t just the Jewish person turning on the lights. If the stairs aren’t an option, then it’s better to use the elevator, so long as there is a non-Jew in the elevator also.

As for automatic doors, it’s best to find some side way to go inside. If there’s no option of doing that, one should wait until someone else is going in, and tag along, so that it’s considered as if the non-Jew actually opened the door.

43. Q. Are a hospital’s Shabbos elevators allowed to be used without a non-Jew coming along?

A.These elevators are not necessarily real Shabbos elevators, so it’s always best to go with a non-Jew. If there’s no other choice and there’s no other way to go, these Shabbas elevators may be used for the sake of the mitzvah of bikkur cholim.

Explanation: Shabbos elevators involve a number of things. There's the first idea: the elevator buttons cannot be pressed on Shabbos. To solve that, the elevators are scheduled to stop on every floor without a person doing anything. They also open and close each door.

Then there's another issue altogether: a person’s weight affects the elevator. A lot of Shabbos elevators don’t take care of that problem, besides for the real ones that come with a hechsher affirming that the person’s weight will have zero effect on the elevator.

Again, if there’s no other choice, this elevator can be used because it’s for the mitzvah of bikkur cholim, but it’s best to go along with a non-Jew.

44. Q. If the parents went out of Shabbos t'chum in order to go to the hospital, may they leave the hospital to go to shul or to name the baby? For example, if he came from Crown Heights and his wife gave birth in a Staten Island Hospital, can he go find a shul?

A.No, there’s no heter to go out of the t'chum on Shabbos in order to name a baby. Naming the baby does not have to happen on Shabbos. If it won't happen, it won't happen. However, Staten Island is considered part of New York City and it is permitted to go out of a Staten Island hospital on Shabbos.

45. Q. What about the bags that were brought along in the taxi to the hospital? Are their contents allowed to be used if they were brought out of Shabbos t'chum?

A.One suggestion is to declare the bags ownerless in advance. Once they're ownerless, none of the halachos of Shabbos t'chum apply, because they don't have any t'chum. If there's no other choice, take it with a shinoy, or ask a non- Jew to take it.

46. Q. If a woman gets discharged on Shabbos or Yom Tov, is she allowed to be driven home by a non-Jew?

A. Explanation: Yom Tov is a bit better than Shabbos in this regard. Driving a car on Yom Tov is an issur M'derabanan, because it comes from the problem of creating a new flame. The idea isn’t that a person is allowed to drive his car on Yom Tov. Rather, a non-Jew is allowed to drive a woman after childbirth, because she is considered a choleh. This applies even seven days after childbirth, where she’s considered a choleh who isn’t in any danger. So being driven by a non-Jew is a M'derabanan, and on Yom Tov, the actual driving is a M'derabanan, so it’s a double M'derabanan. For a choleh, it’s allowed. Shabbos is a whole different story, because it’s an de'oraisah issur.

A regular hospital patient who is now healthy and gets released on Shabbos can’t have a non-Jew drive them home. Since a woman after childbirth is still considered a choleh, if it’s not comfortable for her to stay in the hospital and she must get home, she is allowed to have a non-Jew drive her home. The husband may come along if there is a danger for him to walk or a danger for the wife to go back home alone in the car without him.

47. Q. Can a postpartum woman smear nipple cream on Shabbos to help with painful breastfeeding? What about pain medicine for the birth area or for stitches?

A.One is not allowed to smear cream on Shabbos for two reasons:

There's an issur of smearing on Shabbos

There's a problem of refuah, of using medicinal products, on Shabbos .The refuah is not an issue in this case because the woman is considered a choleh and can therefore use medication. But smearing cannot be done on Shabbos.

The best solution would be to prepare a gauze pad with the cream on it before Shabbos. On Shabbos, it just needs to be applied and it smears itself. If that wasn’t prepared, the cream can be squeezed out onto a gauze, but not smeared. If it's a liquid or spray, there's no problem whatsoever.


Mitzvos in the Hospital


48. Q. In the hospital, may one use electric candles for Shabbos candles? May one make a bracha when using electric candles?

A. Yes. Best to use a battery-operated LED light, as opposed to fluorescent. Ideally, one should use a light which is not the regular light used during the week. A lot of hospitals have a bikkur cholim room, where they're supplied with special Shabbos electric candles that a bracha can be made on.

49. Q. If the husband is at home when the wife is in the hospital, does he also need to light Shabbos candles?

A.Yes. Even if he has daughters over bas mitzvah, who are also lighting Shabbos candles, he should still light because the mitzvah is on the husband.

Explanation: When the wife is home, the wife is doing the mitzvah because she deals with the matters of the home. When the wife is not there, the mitzvah reverts to the husband. Therefore, he should be lighting candles and not relying on the daughter's candles.

50. Q. Is a woman in the hospital obligated to hear kiddush?

A.Yes. Men and women are equally obligated in kiddush, healthy or not.

Explanation: As always, the woman in the hospital does not need to make kiddush for herself; someone else can make it for her. Kiddush can be made on wine, grape juice, or even on challah if necessary. However, kiddush is only valid bemakom seudah. If there's no meal accompanying the kiddush, it's not called kiddush. One must have another cup of wine or grape juice to count it as a seudah. In a case where the person can't have two cups, it means having one full revi'is of wine or grape juice. Eating challah or mezonos will also make it count as a seudah.

In the absence of any of those options of seudah, the kiddush is not really a kiddush. If a patient can’t do any of the above, and they need to eat something, they don't have to wait, because they're not well. Medication and IV are also not considered eating before kiddush.

But in all of these cases, one should at least try to do the mitzvah of kiddush min hatorah, which is to sanctify Shabbos with words, even without a cup of wine. Just saying the words "baruch atah Hashem mikadesh hashabbos", or saying a part of davening where Shabbos is mentioned, is a form of kiddush. Preferably, she should try to say the shemonah esrey of maariv.

51. Q. Is a woman in the hospital obligated to make lechem mishnah?

A.Yes. If that’s not possible, she should at least hear lechem mishnah from someone else. Even if she can't eat the bread, she should eat a mezonos. If it’s not possible, then it’s not possible.

52. Q. Is a woman in the hospital obligated to hear havdalah?


Explanation: havdalah cannot be made on challah.

havdalah can be made either on wine or grape juice or a beverage like coffee or tea. If someone is not well and they can't wait, and they don't have the option of using coffee or tea or wine, they're allowed to eat before havdalah. But if someone can wait, they should wait.

In contrast to Shabbos candles, Havdalah can’t be done on an electric candle. It should be skipped. Also, many women, in general, don't make a bracha on the candle.

53. Q. Can a woman in the hospital drink water before havdalah?


Explanation: It is our minhag that we don't drink water before havdalah. According to halacha, however, one may drink water before havdalah. A patient in a hospital who is waiting for someone to come make havdalah should certainly not be strict about this. There is nothing wrong with drinking water, and this would include seltzer, tea, or coffee as well.

54. Q. Is a woman in the hospital obligated to hear shofar on Rosh Hashana, and to shake the lulav and be in a sukkah on sukkos?

A.These mitzvos do not apply to women. Some women have taken them on, but it's not an absolute obligation. Of course, if she can hear shofar, that's great; if she has a chance to shake lulav, great; if she can eat in the sukkah - great. If not, there's really no necessity to go out of her way to do any of these mitzvos.

55. Q.What about ner chanukah?

A.She is yotzeh by her husband lighting at home. However, she can light electric candles without a bracha. 

56. Q. What about the mitzvos of Purim and the seder on Pesach?

A.She should do them if she can.

Explanation: On Purim, the mitzvos are megillah, a seudah, mishloach manos and matanos laevonim.

On Pesach, the mitzvos are drinking the four cups of wine, saying Hallel, saying the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim, eating matzah and eating marror. If she can eat some but not all of the regular shiurim of matzah and marror on the seder night then the order of priority is: one kizayis matzah, one kizayis marros, one kizayis afikoman and one kizayis each of matzah and marror for korech. Note: It is a good idea to ask your Rav in advance of Yom Tov if you have shailos for your specific situation.

Note: It is a good idea to ask your Rav in advance of Yom Tov if you have shailos for your specific situation.


Yom Kippur


In most cases, Yom Kippur is identical to Shabbos. There are a few differences, however, and the main one is fasting, as presented below.

57.Q. What should be done in the case of a medical emergency on Yom Kippur in regards to food and medicine?

A.If someone's life is in danger, or even if there’s a question about it, they must be given food and medicine immediately. A person should not try to be smarter. The Torah which tells us to fast on Yom Kippur also tells us that our health is even more important than fasting. A healthy person does the mitzvah through fasting, and a sick person in a case of danger does the mitzvah through eating.

58. Q. In general, what should one do if they know they’ll have to eat on Yom Kippur due to medical reasons?

A.It’s important to talk to a Rav about it in advance.

59. Q. What should a person do if they were told they're allowed to eat and drink, but later they regain their energy and feel strong enough to fast?

A.If the danger is over, they have to fast. To be very clear: If a person is weak, but has to be in bed all day to fast, they should do that. Going to shul and davening is secondary compared to the mitzvah of fasting. It’s better to be in bed all day and not daven even one word instead of chas veshalom putting a morsel of food or drink of water in one’s mouth. If there’s no danger by fasting, then a person must fast.

60. Q. If a woman is told that for medical reasons, she’s not allowed to fast- what are the guidelines?

A.Min hatorah, you're not allowed to eat even a small amount of food on Yom Kippur. But the punishment of kareis only applies to someone who eats 2/3 of the size of an egg, kibeitzah. For drinking, it’s if they drank a mouthful of liquid. That’s why if someone is dangerously ill and must eat or drink, it should be less than a shiur, wherever possible.

If one knows in advance that they won’t be able to fast, before Yom Kippur they should fill their mouth and cheeks with liquid and spit it all out into a cup. That’s how much their mouthful is. Half of that is the amount they’re allowed to drink at one time on Yom Kippur.

The amount they’re allowed to eat at one time is 30 cubic centimeters- approximately the size that fits into a very small matchbox.

61. Q. What if the doctor wants her to eat regularly?

A.She should ask her Rav.

62. Q. How much time is considered “in one go”? How much time does the woman need to wait before eating another tiny amount?

A.Ideally, there should be 9 minutes between every small liquor cup of liquid, or between every small matchbox of food. If it's not possible for her to wait 9 minutes, she can wait 7,6, or even 4 minutes.

Within the same time frame, she’s allowed to eat a small amount and also drink a small amount. they don't join together.

63. Q. If a woman must eat on Yom Kippur, does she need to make kiddush before?

A.No, even when Yom Kippur is on Shabbos. 

64. Q. If a woman must eat on Yom Kippur and she eats bread, does she wash the entire hand? Does she need to make a lechem mishnah? Does she say yaaleh veyavo in bentching?

A.Yes, she washes the entire hand, the same way she usually washes her hands. No, she does not make lechem mishnah.

There are different opinions about whether or not yaaleh veyavo is said in bentching. The general opinion is that yes, it should be said in bentching.

65. Q. When one goes into labor, often the advice is not to eat, but to drink. Can a woman do that on Yom Kippur?

A.If she needs to drink, then that’s what is supposed to be done.

66. Q. Sometimes it's advisable to drink water or wine to rule out false labor. Can that be done on Yom Kippur?

A.No. It's better to go to the hospital than to choose to violate Yom Kippur by eating and drinking, whether it’s water or wine.

67. Q. What are the halachos of fasting on Yom Kippur for a woman who is within 3 days after giving birth?

A. She must eat, even if she says she doesn’t have to. But she should eat less than a shiur, as discussed above.

68. Q. What are the halachos of fasting on Yom Kippur for a woman who is between 3-7 days after giving birth?

A. If she says she needs to eat, then she can eat. Again, she should be careful to eat less than a shiur.

69. Q. What are the halachos of fasting on Yom Kippur for a woman who is after 7 days of giving birth?

A.There's no sakanah whatsoever; she is not allowed to eat on Yom Kippur because of childbirth. If she says she needs to eat - that could be because of sickness, which is a different story and must be addressed separately.

70. Q. Can a woman use pain oimtment on Yom Kippur?

A.The issur of using cream on Yom Kippur and Tisha Beav only applies to using for pleasure. But if it's to remove pain, it’s not a problem. This is a separate issur from smearing ointment on Shabbos. See question 47 for more information on smearing ointment on Shabbos.

Birth and Moshiach


71. Q. How is birth connected to Moshiach?

A. "Chassidus tell us that there is a chamber in heaven called guf, that is filled with neshamos. As soon as all the neshamos come out of that chamber, that's when Mashiach will come. So every birth is another step toward Mashiach. Additionally, galus is compared to the pangs of labor while Geulah is the birth. At this stage when we've already done everything we can to bring Mashiach, birth just means being able to visualize the days of Moshiach that we're experiencing currently, may we see it clearly now.

Hashem will help that all the births that are supposed to take place should all be behatzlacha, and it should be a smooth labor and an easy birth in the best possible way. There should be no need to be concerned about anything because we have Hashem's bracha in everything that takes place, especially when it comes to birth.

Hatzlacha Raba and Besuros Tovos!

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