The Jewish Sabbath

Each week Jews have a day of rest known as the Sabbath. Jews usually call it Shabbat. It begins at sunset on Friday evening and lasts until Saturday night when the stars appear. Shabbat is a total day of rest, when Jews are forbidden to do any work. It is a holy day when we can devote ourselves to prayer and study. By resting on the Shabbat, Jews proclaim their belief that God created the world. It is also a time for relaxing with the family. There are 39 types of creative activity that are forbidden to be done on the Sabbath. Among activities prohibited on the Sabbath are the use of electricity; going by car or public transport; cooking; telephoning; writing; the use of money, or even carrying outside.

The possibility of activating a sensor in a hospital is an added difficulty for the Sabbath observant Jewish patient or visitor.

The beginning of the Sabbath is marked by a home ceremony that included the lighting of candles and saying a blessing over wine and two loaves of bread. It is appreciated that the lighting of candles may not be possible in hospital, especially at the patient’s bedside. In such cases electric lights may be used.

The Sabbath and medical treatment:

An important principle within Judaism is the saving of life, to such an extent that it can even over-ride the laws of Shabbat. Therefore, especially in the event of life threatening or serious situations, it is permissible for the patient to break the Sabbath laws. However, minor treatments, for which there is no urgency, should be avoided on the Sabbath. Relatives of the patient are also only permitted to break the Sabbath laws, in order to save life. Therefore they would be permitted to drive to the hospital to bring a patient for any life-saving or serious treatment, but would not be able to drive back home.

Print Friendly