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Today the world is high in technology; many medical fields are experiencing breakthroughs in artificial limbs and what not.

What are the legalities of these in Jewish law?

For example, a pace maker is legal to be operated on Saturday because it sustains life, but a mechanically operated artificial left hand does not. Is it still legal to use on Saturdays and why?

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Isn't a pacemaker something that runs continuously without intervention? That seems different from a mechanically-operated limb quite aside from any pikuach nefesh considerations. –  Monica Cellio May 10 '13 at 17:29
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the hearing aid isn't piku'ach nefesh and is discussed here daat.ac.il/daat/english/journal/sandler-1.htm this site alludes to an article but the link doesn't work vosizneias.com/47075/2010/01/15/… –  Danno May 10 '13 at 17:39
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Ess Kay, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for the interesting question! I hope you'll poke around and find other material here of interest, perhaps inlcuding our 86 other questions about medicine. –  Isaac Moses May 10 '13 at 17:46
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One precedent to consider is that of the electric scooter, which is not used passively like a pacemaker or hearing aid, and is not inherently life-saving like a pacemaker. It may be distinguishable from a prosthetic hand, though, since it's even more "external" to the body, and perhaps due to other particularities of their respective uses. –  Isaac Moses May 10 '13 at 17:49
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related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/6797/759 –  Double AA May 10 '13 at 18:10

1 Answer 1

The prohibition of using electricity is partially Rabbinic, partially not. (This is not to imply that Rabbinic prohibitions are unimportant).

However, there is a rule that if someone is sick (for certain degrees of illness) then Rabbinic prohibitions are permitted (are relaxed). This is not because they are unimportant but because when they were enacted in the first place, they were enacted with that exception.

This is only a general answer. For the specific type of illness and type of electric machine I can not answer - this is something you need to ask a Rabbi about.

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This answer could be improved with sources but I can't right now. –  Ariel May 10 '13 at 23:42
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The question is for (unnessisary to sustain life) mechanical devices such as the scooter, or elevator or bionic arm -- when not needed for an emegrency (you will not die without a scooter or arm ) –  Ess Kay May 13 '13 at 13:35
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@EssKay I know. You may set aside Rabbinic prohibitions even for non-essential things in some cases. –  Ariel May 17 '13 at 19:45

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