Pikuach Nefesh preempts virtually every law in the Torah

Nevertheless the halachos regarding what constitutes a medical emergency and what may or may not be done are both voluminous and complex. Hatzalah of the Rockaways and Nassau County operates at all times within the strictest parameters of Halacha.

In this section we are pleased to provide you with a practical guide to the most common medical-halachic questions that arise. This information was prepared for Hatzalah of the Rockaways & Nassau County.

For guidance regarding specific issues please consult your own Rav. If possible please anticipate any questions you need to ask. Often when the emergency occurs it is too late to ask.


PLEASE NOTE IF THERE IS EVEN A POSSIBILITY OF A POTENTIALLY LIFE-THREATENING SITUATION, CALL THE HATZALAH EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBER IMMEDIATELY.

Halacha

In Case of Illness

    Hatzalah has certain arrangements in place to help in situations where one is ill but it is a non life-threatening situation. These include…
  • If you are sick to the degree that you would normally go to bed (i.e. influenza, bad cold) even if in reality you are walking around.
  • If your entire body feels ill and weak due to pain (i.e. migraine headache, severe earache, severe toothache)
  • From the 8th day to 30th day after childbirth, or miscarriage of at least 40 days of gestation.
  • If you are prone to develop an illness (i.e. severe migraine, acute asthma etc.) in a short period of time if you do not obtain treatment (i.e. medication)
  • The specific needs of an ill child until age 9 as required for his or her health.
  • In the above situations, medications may be taken and obtained in the following manner:

Pharmacy Services on Shabbos/Yom Tov

    Hatzalah has arranged for a charge account with CVS in Cedarhurst. Medication can be obtained by giving your name and address and having them to charge it to Hatzalah’s account using the following guidelines.
  1. If you or another Jew can walk over to CVS to obtain medication, that is most preferable. Should you need a prescription, they will call your doctor.
  2. If walking over is not feasible, you can have a non-Jew call the pharmacy and make all necessary arrangements for you to obtain the medication.
  3. If there is no non-Jew available, you may knock the phone off its cradle in an indirect fashion (i.e. your elbow) and dial CVS at 516 374 2626 (or another pharmacy if payment arrangements can be postponed until after Shabbos). You should dial with a Shinuy (in an indirect fashion) using your knuckle or pinky (one from each hand) and press the numbers.
  4. When you complete the call, only hang up if there is a realistic possibility that the pharmacy or physician will need to contact you. When hanging up, do so with a Shinuy (i.e. for a regular phone, put phone back on cradle with both hands; for a portable or cell phone, shut off with your knuckle of pinky).

Taxi Services on Shabbos/Yom Tov

Guidelines for use of taxi services on Shabbos and Yom Tov

Please consult your Rav before you have an emergency, for detailed instructions and guidelines in handling a Shabbos emergency.

In a situation that is clearly defined as non-life-threatening, Hatzalah has a pre-arranged agreement with a local non-Jewish taxi service (Towne Taxi 516-239-5151) for transport to and from medical facilities as appropriately needed.

This service can be used to travel to the hospital, as per instructions from your Rav. It may also be used for a for a Choleh She’ain Bo Sakanah to return home from the hospital when Halachically permissible (see list below).

When traveling to the hospital, ask a non-Jew to call the taxi service. If there is no non-Jew readily available, you may knock the phone off its cradle and dial in an indirect fashion. Do not hang up the phone afterwards.

No money is needed when using this service. You should exercise caution that the non-Jewish driver opens and closes the vehicle doors and carries anything you may have brought, in areas where there is no Eruv.

Again, in the event of a medical emergency or even a possibility of one, do not call Towne Taxi, Call Hatzalah.

To order a Shabbos Taxi Card CLICK HERE.

NOTE: It is optimal, wherever possible, that upon your discharge from the hospital you remain in the hospital until the end of Shabbos. Many hospitals have suites with lodging and food arrangements made by the local Bikur Cholim. In the event that you are not needed at home and you will be comfortable in the hospital suite, you should not go home with a non-Jew but rather stay until Shabbos is over.

    If it is not possible, or in one of the specific situations listed below, ask a non-jew to call Towne Taxi and have them come take you home using this system with the above instructions.
  • The patient is pregnant and is brought to the hospital for a delivery and it was a false alarm and there are no provisions at the hospital.
  • The patient had a test or procedure performed and as a result is still in a weak state.
  • The patient is an elderly person, a young child, or infant who can not remain in the hospital.
  • The patient is being discharged but nevertheless is still ill.
  • If the patient or accompanying person is a parent who must tend to small children left unattended or frightened at home, or a nursing mother who must return home for her infant, they may return even if lodging and provisions are available at the hospital.
It is never permitted to return from out of the Techum Shabbos. LIJ, Mercy, South Nassau, St. Johns, and Winthrop are all within the Techum Shabbos. Please verify the Techum before returning home.

Guidelines for a Shabbos Birth

When a woman reaches her ninth month of pregnancy, she should prepare accordingly and have all arrangements in place before shabbos to prevent any Chillul Shabbos (desecrating the Sabbath). A suitcase with all necessary items needed for Shabbos (food, nightgown, Siddur, etc.) should be readied in advance.

In the event of an anticipated complicated birth, unusual history, a distant hospital, a potentially unstable situation, or the onset of active labor Hatzalah should be called at once.

For an anticipated normal delivery, it is most preferable to utilize the services of a non-Jew to transport a pregnant woman to the hospital.

Hatzalah has a pre-arranged agreement with a local non-Jewish taxi service (Towne Taxi 516-239-5151)

This service should only be used in a situation of a normal delivery.

To order a Shabbos Taxi Card CLICK HERE.

When it is time to go to the hospital, ask a non-Jew to call the taxi service. If there is no non-Jew readily available, you may knock the phone off its cradle and dial with a Shinuy (in an indirect fashion) using your knuckle or pinky (one from each hand) and press the numbers.

When you complete the call, hang up with a Shinuy (i.e. for a regular phone, put phone back on cradle with both hands; for a portable or cell phone, shut off with your knuckle of pinky) as there is a realistic possibility that the Taxi or physician will need to contact you.

No money is needed when using this service. You should exercise caution that the non-Jewish driver opens and closes the vehicle doors and carries anything you may have brought, in areas where there is no Eruv.

If you are in a situation where a this system can not be used and you need to pay a non-Jewish car service, arrange for them to be paid either before or after Shabbos so that no cash needs to be transferred on Shabbos or Yom Tov. If this is not feasible, you should prepare an envelope with money which the driver can take from inside the house. If this is not possible, you may carry the envelope with a Shinuy (e.g. under the hat or in a shoe).

The husband (or any other individual) should accompany the woman giving birth if she feels it will ease her tension and will be comforted with their presence.

On Shabbos, in areas within an Eruv or on Yom Tov, anyone may take a suitcase with whatever may be needed for the expectant mother. Outside the Eruv, a non-jew should be used to carry the suitcase with all necessary items to and from the car. The husband's Tallis, Siddur, Wine and Challah etc. should also be placed in the suitcase and taken by the gentile.

Should there be a need to drop off children by a relative or friend (i.e. if no arrangements were made prior to Shabbos, see above, the non Jewish driver may drop them off on the way to the hospital).

If the woman comes to the hospital and has false labor and there are no provisions for her in the hospital (i.e. she is not being admitted and no food) she can be driven home by a non-Jew. (See above Taxi Service). Her husband and/or companion, who came with her, should go back as well if she feels that she needs their presence and support.

NOTE: It is optimal, wherever possible, that upon your discharge from the hospital you remain in the hospital until the end of Shabbos. Many hospitals have suites with lodging and food arrangements made by the local Bikur Cholim. In the event that you are not needed at home and you will be comfortable in the hospital suite, you should not go home with a non-Jew but rather stay until Shabbos is over.

It is never permitted to return from out of the Techum Shabbos. LIJ, Mercy, South Nassau, St. Johns, and Winthrop are all within the Techum Shabbos. Please verify the Techum before returning home.

Proper procedure in case of death on Shabbos

  1. In a case of a life-threatening emergency or a safek one is obligated to call Hatzalah. However, once it has been determined that a person has already passed away, there is absolutely no heter to make such a call. Regardless of what concerns or issues one might have regarding kovod ha'meis, any call by a Jew is a desecration of Shabbos.
  2. Please note that according to law, no autopsy may be initiated prior to twenty four hours after the time of passing. Hence, it is absolutely forbidden to make calls to the medical examiner, the hospital, Hatzalah or anyone in order to avert any potential nivul ha'meis.
  3. In the event of a death in a house, a member of the family, a neighbor or friend should consult the Rabbi and/or Chevra Kaddisha regarding proper Shabbos procedure in dealing a niftar, or how to move the niftar etc.
  4. Absolutely no phone calls or funeral preparations may be made on Shabbos even through the services of a non-Jew. Additionally, no family members should be contacted to inform them of the petirah.

THE PHARMACY AND TAXI SERVICE ARE TO BE USED FOR CLEARLY DEFINED NON-LIFE THREATENING SITUATIONS.