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I have heard opinions varying wildly on the subject and am trying to make sense of them halachically. Is it illegal on Shabbat to push someone in a wheelchair, let's say, from their home to synagogue outside of an eruv? If so, why? A friend of mine informed me that it is definitely permissible to do, since nothing is being carried.

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2 Answers 2

Yes, its hotza'ah (bringing out, carrying). Carrying does not literally mean in one's hands, easy examples of that are throwing things, and kicking things.

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The English version of Sh'mirath Shabbath K'hilchathah (34:27) says that the disabled person in the wheelchair may propel himself through a rabbinic public domain and only for the purpose of a mitzva. The only person other than himself who would be permitted to push him would be a non-Jew. The allowance for the disabled person himself to do so is not due to the fact that moving the chair is not subject to the laws of carrying. It is. Although on the Torah level, the only way to incur liability for carrying through the public domain involves picking up and placing down the object, rabbinically all other forms of long (-er than 4 amos) range propulsion are prohibited.

More, very relevant details can be found here.

In the words of @msh210, CYLOR.

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Also, in a rabbinic public domain (karmelis), one may not push someone in a wheelchair even for a mitzva, but a non-jew may be asked to do so (once again, for the purpose of a mitzva). –  jake May 25 '11 at 0:17
    
@jake - I have edited to include that clarification. –  WAF May 25 '11 at 0:20
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Why is that different than the cane in SA OC 301:17? hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14171&st=&pgnum=161 –  YDK May 25 '11 at 1:36
    
@YDK - Good question. One thing that occurs to me is that in the cane case there is no question of another's involvement. It is necessarily a one-person job. Why there is no need for a d'var mitzva I have no idea. –  WAF May 25 '11 at 1:44
    
After reading SA OC 301:17 I have three questions: 1. What is a Chiger, a disabled person? 2. Why did the Mishnah Berurah need to describe ice as "water which has frozen"? Furthermore, why did he have to Hebraicize the Aramaic word for freeze? 3. Why did he transliterate it into and English-sounding word? Is that Yiddish? Is it German in origin? It seems to be German, per Google; can anyone confirm? UPDATE: I have asked #2 as a stand-alone Question: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/7829/…. –  Seth J May 25 '11 at 20:16

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