I don't think anybody would argue that Ebola is a חולי שיש בו סכנה (an illness that involves danger to life)1, which means that we not only may but must violate Shabbos in order to provide care for an Ebola patient.

That being the case, here are some Shabbos questions pertaining to Ebola:

  • Would one be allowed to drive an Ebola patient to a quarantine on Shabbos, so that he would not infect others?
  • Would it make a difference if he is still in danger from the Ebola, himself?
  • Would it make a difference if the patient drives himself, or if others drive him?

1 "The disease has a high risk of death, killing between 25 percent and 90 percent of those infected with the virus, with an average risk of 50 percent."
~ Wikipedia

  • 1
  • More related questions here
    – MTL
    Nov 3, 2014 at 2:22
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    Do you have any reason to suspect the worry of infecting others would not push off any Shabbat prohibition?
    – Double AA
    Nov 3, 2014 at 3:11
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    @DoubleAA No, but this was a question about parameters -- it may not be obvious to all that we are מחלל שבת to drive someone who is not currently endangered himself, because he may come to endanger others. Once that was started, I put some other topics into the question/answer as well.
    – MTL
    Nov 3, 2014 at 3:15

1 Answer 1


To answer the questions, in order:

  • שמירת שבת כהלכתה (Rabbi YY Neuwirth) in 32:13 writes that if someone has a "מחלה מידבקת," an infectious disease, and there is a concern that he will infect those around him (and besides for the hospital, he cannot otherwise be kept in a מקום מבודד, a quarantine), he may be driven by car to the hospital on Shabbos, out of concern for the lives of others.

  • ibid, Rav Neuwirth writes that it makes no difference if the חולה is still in danger himself, where there is a chance that he might infect others.

  • In the same chapter, halacha 4, Rav Neuwirth writes that there is no difference between חילול שבת done to save a life that is done by the חולה, and between חילול שבת done by others on his behalf. Accordingly, it shouldn't make a difference who drives.
    However, I would suggest that, based on Rav Neuwirth's ruling in 32:23 (if it doesn't make a difference to the life-saving acts done, or the speed in which they're done, that חילול שבת should be minimized where possible), that probably as few people as possible should join the car ride, and that the patient should drive himself, if he can.

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    +1 i would also suggest skipping out on a car ride with someone who has Ebola.
    – user6591
    Nov 3, 2014 at 2:09
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    @user6591 Why? What's wrong with being in the same car as an Ebola patient?
    – Ypnypn
    Nov 3, 2014 at 2:45
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    @user6591 "Between people, Ebola disease spreads only by direct contact with the blood or body fluids of a person who has developed symptoms of the disease" ~ Wikipedia
    – MTL
    Nov 3, 2014 at 3:21
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    @Shokhet i have no doubt that given the choice, both you and Ypnypn would not sit next to someone you knew had Ebola. Or aids.
    – user6591
    Nov 3, 2014 at 10:04
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    @user6591 I would have no qualms with sitting next to someone with AIDS, unless they were sick with something else that made them sneeze a lot. I bet Shokhet and Ypnypn would not mind either as they seem to understand biology.
    – Double AA
    Nov 3, 2014 at 19:44

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