I heard shabbat can be violated if it's to save a life, such as in cases where a doctor needs to heal a patient. But what if it's an licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor/Art therapist? Let's say there is a Jewish patient that is suicidal and painting is a form of healing their depression. Can an Art Therapist provide therapy where they can paint because it makes them happy?

  • 1
    I would suggest, that if R. Moshe Feinstein allowed abortions (after 40 days it is considered Halachicly a murder IIRC) to save a woman's sanity, I suppose the same principle could be applied here because Sabbath is less than murder.
    – Al Berko
    Jul 3 at 12:28
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    Another example: a doctor who's fit to testify that one has to eat on Yom Kippur (which is liable for Kareth) can testify that now can transgress Shabbos (painting on Shabbos is Derabonon anyway IIRC).
    – Al Berko
    Jul 3 at 12:30
  • No direct answer in here but an overview of many related issues about mental health and when it overrides halacha: s3.amazonaws.com/na-st01.ext.exlibrisgroup.com/01BRAND_INST/…
    – Zarka
    Jul 3 at 19:52

1 Answer 1


The Talmud says if someone is experiencing mental illness and a lit candle is causing them severe distress, you can (and should) blow it out on Shabbat. So mental-health concerns clearly qualify.

Next: if right now someone might be suicidal -- save them now and worry about Shabbat later.

This assumes, of course, that this particular form of therapy is needed at this particular moment.

A mental-health professional and a competent rabbi should connect to make sure everyone understands what's actually needed here. But the default is -- save a life first, ask questions later.

I haven't heard of this particular question before about art therapy, but as an example on mental health, many with eating disorders have been told by their rabbis to eat normally on Yom Kippur -- doesn't matter if someone can't fast because they're diabetic, or because they suffer from a mental-health condition that could lead to a horrible spiral in the wrong direction.

  • This could benefit from sources that discuss the limitations -- in the talmud case, the candle IS causing the distress. In the question asked here, art is a method of therapy to heal. It does not ask about a case where painting is what is directly stopping suicide. Are healing therapies the same in halacha as direct fixes?
    – rosends
    Jul 3 at 11:23
  • המכבה את הנר מפני רוח רעה פטור. It doesn't say muttar
    – Double AA
    Jul 3 at 12:53
  • @DoubleAA I thought that was one where we came out patur umutar, no?
    – Shalom
    Jul 3 at 13:48
  • OC 278 מותר לכבות הנר בשביל שיישן החולה שיש בו סכנה
    – Double AA
    Jul 3 at 13:51

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