Is one allowed to violate the boundaries and walk beyond techum Shabbat on Shabbat for the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim (visiting the sick)? Is there a responsa or Halacha brought down on this?

  • 2
    No. Why would they? A mitzvah that happens to have popped up doesn't override the prohibition. The Mishna talks about setting up an eruv techum to visit one's teacher -- implying that techum has to be observed, even if there's a mitzvah at stake (provided it's not a life-threatening matter).
    – Shalom
    Oct 22, 2023 at 2:43
  • @KirkBellard just a few things on using @ to ping people. If you comment on a question/answer, the person who wrote that q/a automatically gets notified. No need to @ them. Similarly if there is only one comment to which you respond, that person automatically get notified. You only need to @ people (like I did here) when there are multiple comments and you don't respond to the author of the post
    – mbloch
    Oct 23, 2023 at 6:31
  • @Shalom How about when the person visiting the sick person is a ben zugo of the ill person who is guaranteed to take away 1/60th of the illness and the ill person is a choleh sheyesh bo sakana?
    – The GRAPKE
    Oct 23, 2023 at 14:05
  • You're asking if your visit will help when someone's condition is life-threatening? I'd put aside the metaphysics and just ask a medical professional practically. (It's almost always better to have someone competent with the patient. Even how the staff views the patient if it appears their family has abandoned them ...)
    – Shalom
    Oct 23, 2023 at 14:31
  • Choleh she'ein bo sakanah is the real question. If I recall, there's a responsum in the 1800s to R' Samson Raphael Hirsch about whether we can allow an apple that fell off the tree on shabbos for a choleh she'ein bo sakana. Just because they allowed some derbanans does not mean they allowed all of them. (I'm assuming the responsum was more for theoretical halachic sake.)
    – Shalom
    Oct 23, 2023 at 14:34

1 Answer 1



You'd be violating techum before getting to bikur cholim.

Yes, circumcision (if on the 8th day proper) overrides Shabbos, but that's the exception; and even then, only the act itself, not its prerequisites. Say the only way to do the circumcision is to forge a new scalpel; the Gemara says that Rabbi Eliezer allowed it, but the halacha doesn't follow him. The same would apply, for instance, if the only way to do the circumcision is to drive there.

  • 1
    @KirkBellard we can't just apply loose reasoning like that. Say my friend is feeling kind of down (not in a life-threatening way) and says it would make him really happy if he watched me eat chicken a la king. I don't do it, even though cheering him up is a Torah obligation.
    – Shalom
    Oct 23, 2023 at 14:36

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