Over the years I've heard and seen people who were smoking on shabbos, but I noticed they were clearly having a mental breakdown. I would say maybe even outwardly displaying suicidal emotions.

Are they culpable for going to measures of self medicating. Is this pikuach nefesh.

Does a person have to have daas to transgress shabbos? There's clearly no daas here. So I guess it wouldn't apply.

  • Mental breakdown is unclear. There is no treatment without transgressing Shabbat ?
    – kouty
    Commented May 27, 2022 at 11:46
  • I realize this is a theoretical question about the limits of piquach nefesh, but on a practical level, the stuff discussed in this thread can overcome even the worsr cravings: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/120943/… Commented May 27, 2022 at 13:20

1 Answer 1


The Mishna says clearly one is not violating shabbos to extinguish a light that is threatening someone with a severe mental illness.

A person themselves who is not in their right mind, as you said, is not held liable.

But let's be careful with overexpanding the term. A nicotine addict having withdrawal cravings is not "crazy", and "self-medicating" is not the answer. (The whole point of breaking shabbos to save a life is to in fact save them, not just keep making things worse.)

  • 4
    It's definitely a CYLOR case, so I don't really think one should give a general answer... Commented May 27, 2022 at 12:41

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