web analytics
April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Sponsored Post

Q & A: Shabbat Shuttle? (Part II)


Question: Is it permitted on the Sabbath or holidays to take a shuttle to synagogue? My neighborhood shuttle runs from 9-5 daily, is driven by a gentile, has a designated stop schedule, and is free of charge.

In my case, it would be very helpful as I have major difficulties walking the almost one-mile distance from my apartment to shul due to a medical condition known as peripheral artery disease. I am close to 80 years old.

I live in the Bal Harbor area of Miami Beach, FL, and I know that many Orthodox Jews who live in high-rises use a Sabbath elevator or take regular elevators and allow someone else to press the button. Several people sit in wheelchairs (including a local Orthodox rabbi who is ill and cannot walk) and are wheeled to shul.

I fail to see why taking the shuttle bedi’eved is different than taking a Sabbath elevator or being pushed in a wheelchair. Although I know I should ask my shul rabbi, I would appreciate hearing your opinion.

Hershele L.
(Via E-Mail)

Summary of our response up to this point: My uncle, Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l, discussed this matter many years ago based on a responsum of the Chatam Sofer who addressed a query from a Jewish physician who found himself in the position of having to travel on Shabbat to deliver a gentile baby. The Chatam Sofer noted that we are prohibited from riding an animal or in a coach on Shabbat since we must rest our animals on Shabbat (Exodus 20:10). Furthermore, if we ride an animal on Shabbat, we may unthinkingly tear off a branch to use it as a whip. Another factor is techum Shabbat, the prohibition against traveling more than 2,000 amot (approximately 4,000 feet) on Shabbat.

These prohibitions, however, don’t apply to the doctor’s case because the animals belonged to a gentile, the doctor wasn’t driving the wagon, and the wagon was higher than 10 tefachim (and at that height, the air is considered a makom petur), thus rendering the techum Shabbat prohibition inapplicable. Techum Shabbat also may not apply because the coach (measuring more than 4×4 amot) was perhaps a reshut bifnei atzmah.

We are the prohibited from telling a non-Jew to violate Shabbat. However, in this case the gentile was calling for the doctor; the doctor wasn’t telling the gentile anything. The Chatam Sofer further said that the admonition of not violating Shabbat for a non-Jew does not apply in our times when we dwell amongst the gentiles as neighbors. Because of darkei sholom, keeping the peace and friendship of our neighbors, we must do everything to help them as we would our own. Thus, the Chatam Sofer ruled that the doctor may ride out of town to help deliver the baby on Shabbat.

Is this scenario analogous to your situation, where you wish to take a free shuttle to shul on Shabbat?

* * * * *

You argue that riding a shuttle on Shabbat should be allowed just liked being pushed in a wheelchair is. Is this a valid comparison? Let us cite from the comprehensive work of Rabbi Yehoshua Yeshaya Neuwirth, Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchatah (vol. 1 34:27), in which he discusses people who cannot walk and wish to be pushed in wheelchairs on Shabbat. He writes that if there is an eruv, they may wheel themselves or be pushed by others.

However, if there is an eruv, what’s the issue? Isn’t it obvious that being pushed in a wheelchair would be permitted? The answer is that with wheelchairs we are dealing with at least two other possible Shabbat prohibitions. The first is “uvdin d’chol.” Our poskim (Mechaber, Orach Chayim 335:5, see Aruch Hashulchan ad loc., sk9) tend to prohibit activities on Shabbat that resemble weekday activities and it would seem that according to some, using a wheelchair might be an example of that category.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: Shabbat Shuttle? (Part II)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
U.S. President Barack Obama
Obama’s Creativity: Signing Bonus Substituting for Sanctions Lifting
Latest Judaism Stories

Lincoln was not a perfect man. But he rose above his imperfections to do what he thought was right not matter the obstacles.

Arch of Titus

Adon Olam: An Erev Shabbat Musical Interlude Courtesy of David Herman


Oh My, It’s Copper!
‘…And One Who Is A Coppersmith’
(Kethubboth 77a)


The omer sacrifice of loose barley flour was more fitting for animal consumption than human consumption and symbolizes the depths to which the Jewish slaves had sunk.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

His mother called “Yoni, Yoni!” Her eyes, a moment earlier dark with pain, shone with joy and hope

Kashrut reminds us that in the end, God is the arbiter of right and wrong.

In a cab with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach & Rav Elayshiv discussing if/when to say tefillas haderech

The successful student listens more than speaks out; wants his ideas critiqued, not just appreciated

Why would it not be sufficient to simply state lehoros from which we derive that in such a state one may not issue any psak?

What do we learn about overcoming loss from the argument between Moses and Aaron’s remaining 2 sons?

Each of the unique roles attributed to Moshe share the common theme that they require of and grant higher sanctity to the individual filling the role.

Because of the way the piece of my finger had been severed, the doctors at the hospital were not able to reattach it. They told me I’d have to see a specialist.

“The problem is that the sum total is listed is $17,000. However, when you add the sums mentioned, it is clear that the total of $17,000 is an error. Thus, Mr. Broyer owes me $18,000, not $17,000.”

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: What if someone forgot to count sefirah Thursday evening but only realized after he finished davening Friday evening? The catch is that he accepted Shabbos early so that it is still light outside. Can he still count for Thursday evening and then count for Friday night with a berachah once it gets dark?

Pesach Bernstein
(Via E-Mail)

Question: What if a person counted the Omer but forgot to utter the blessing beforehand? Has he fulfilled his obligation? Incidentally, why do we recite a blessing for this counting but not for the “zayin nekiyim – seven clean days”?

M. Goldman
Miami Beach, FL

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-shabbat-shuttle-part-ii/2014/01/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: