Suppose I find myself in a situation where I am not sure whether my life is sufficiently in danger to warrant halachot of pikuach nefesh to come into play. What should I do in this case? Am I supposed to (e.g.) violate Shabbat in this case?

To be clear, I am not talking about a situation where I do not know how much danger I am in (I am having sudden chest pains and I'm not sure whether it's a heart attack or something more benign. My understanding is that this is the category of safek pikuach nefesh and it is treated the same as pikuach nefesh situations). I am talking about the situation where I am aware of the level of danger and I have a safek about whether the risk is sufficient to constitute pikuach nefesh (e.g. I am caught driving in a severe blizzard and Shabbat is about to begin).


2 Answers 2


This question is discussed by Rabbi Kaganoff

“One must desecrate Shabbos even if there is only a slight possibility that the situation is dangerous. One does not need a professional opinion or an expert physician. Whenever one is uncertain whether the situation is dangerous, he is required to desecrate Shabbos (Shu’t Tashbeitz 1:54).”

Once you suspect that this could be a situation of Pikuach Nefesh then you need to be "machmir on the halacha of Pikuach Nefesh". Who first said "You're being machmir on pikuach nefesh"?

  • This even applies to something like a doctor checking what the message on his phone was on Shabbat: a medical emergency, or some random email?
    – Scimonster
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 22:16
  • @Scimonster I would imagine so. I see doctors carrying pagers on Shabbat all the time.
    – Daniel
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 13:18
  • @Scimonster - I asked exactly your question on MY a few months ago. I have to hunt for the link. If you locate it before me, please post a "related" comment / link.
    – DanF
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 15:54
  • @DanF I think I confused everyone with my question mark. I was making a statement; the question mark was the doctor's not knowing what the message was.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 16:09

By all means !!! Don't even consider a "Pikuch nefesh" situation as "Hilul Shabbat" - but act without delay in ANY way you can to save a life. Even if it is only a slight suspicion. And NEFESH is not only physical, it also means Mental or a worrisome situation.

  • 1
    Please quote references, otherwise it's just your personal opinion! Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 10:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .