Desecrating Shabbos on behalf of a Yoledes

* This article is an excerpt from the above Sefer
Desecrating Shabbos on behalf of a Yoledes:

One who has a life-threatening illness it is a Mitzvah [and obligation[1]] to transgress Shabbos on his behalf [to help heal him] and those which act with alacrity [and do so first] are praised.[2] Even a questionable life-threatening situation pushes off [the prohibitions of] Shabbos.[3] In this Halacha, we will elaborate on the allowance to desecrate Shabbos on behalf of a Yoledes.

A. The general law:[4]

A woman who is within the stages of giving birth [as explained in Halacha D] is considered to be in a state of danger of life, and hence one may desecrate Shabbos on her behalf, and it is indeed an obligation to do so. [It is permitted for anyone to desecrate Shabbos on behalf of the woman giving birth, and the desecration does not have to be done by the woman herself.[5]]



May one desecrate Shabbos on behalf of treating or preventing a miscarriage?[6] Yes[7]. This applies even if she is less than 40 days pregnant and even if there is no danger to her but there is possibility of saving the pregnancy.   May one induce labor on Shabbos?[8] One must avoid inducing labor on or very close to Shabbos due to causing unnecessary desecration of Shabbos, unless the matter involves a medical emergency. In a case of great pain, one is to contact a Rav. Inducing labor through natural methods [i.e. massage, walking, intimacy]:[9] One is to avoid inducing labor even through natural means close to, or on Shabbos, in order to avoid giving birth on Shabbos and causing unnecessary Shabbos desecration.          
  Davening for a woman not to give birth on Shabbos:[10] It is proper for one to pray for his wife not to give birth on Shabbos, in order so Shabbos does not need to be desecrated.   Avoiding intimacy prior to Wednesday so child isn’t born on Shabbos: Some Poskim[11] write that those who have intimacy during weeknights [i.e. most people today, whose Onah is twice a week] are to do so on Wednesday night [and onwards, and not on Sunday-Tuesday]. This is done in order so she should give birth on Sunday, or on a later day of the week, and not on Shabbos.   


B. The requirement to use an irregularity upon desecrating Shabbos:[12]

Whenever a [Biblical[13]] desecration is done on behalf of a woman during stages of birth, it is to be done in an irregular manner, in whatever way one is able to change from the normal method that the act is done during the week.[14] [This, however, only applies if the irregularity will not cause any delay to her treatment.[15] Accordingly, many of the treatments and actions done during the birth that involve Shabbos desecration are even initially done without any irregularity.[16] However, those actions which are done in preparation for the birth, should initially all be done with an irregularity, or through a gentile.[17] Likewise, all Rabbinical prohibitions may be done without any irregularity.[18]]


Examples of irregularities:[19]

1.       Dialing the number on the phone in an irregular manner.[20]

2.       Pressing on the elevator button with some irregularity.

3.       If one is forced to sign his name on documents, it should be signed within irregularity, such as with one’s left hand.


C. For what matters may one desecrate Shabbos?[21]

One may desecrate Shabbos on behalf of performing any of the needs of a woman who is in the process of giving birth. Thus, one may call a midwife for her.

Nonessential matters: One may even desecrate Shabbos for non-essential matters which will calm her down. Thus, for example, one may turn the light on for her simply for the sake of making her feel more secure.[22]


If a light needs to be turned on and one has different options of which light to use is there preference of one type of light over another?[23]

Yes. It is better to turn on a fluorescent light then to turn on a regular light bulb. As well it is better to turn on a smaller light bulb than a larger light bulb.


May a Tzaddik or Torah Scholar be alerted to pray for the Yoledes if doing so involves prohibitions?[24]

If doing so will calm the patient down, then the prohibitions involved may be done through a gentile. If the patient asks for this to be done and the medical doctor says that it is a matter of life and death for the patient [meaning that if they do not visit him his illness may become more severe] then they may do whatever is needed to reach the Tzaddik, even if it involves Biblical prohibitions.


D. From what stage of labor may one desecrate Shabbos?[25]

A woman becomes defined as a Yoledes for whom one may desecrate Shabbos on her behalf, from the time that any of the following three matters occur [with exception to traveling to the hospital which may be done even prior to these stages being reached, as explained in Halacha 2]:

  1. Contractions-Birthstool/Mashber:[26] If she is ready to go on the birth stool to give birth then one may desecrate Shabbos on her behalf. [This refers to contractions.[27] Some[28] explain this to refer to the consistent set of contractions of every five minutes which occur before birth to widen the cervix, in which case one may desecrate Shabbos even if it is questionable if this will lead her to giving birth. Others[29] question that perhaps the contractions refer to those which come when one is ready to push the baby out, after the cervix has already successfully opened.[30]]
  2. Blood:[31] If she sees a flow of blood from her vagina, then one may desecrate Shabbos on her behalf. [This does not refer to a mere few drops but rather to a nice surge of blood.[32] However, if she simply sees a stain of blood in her underwear, then she has yet to reach this stage.[33]]
  3. Can’t walk on own:[34] If she is unable to walk on her own due to the labor, and needs to sit on a bed or wheelchair, or have someone help her walk, then one may desecrate Shabbos on her behalf.
  4. Breaking of water: If her water broke, then some[35] write that this is considered like a gush of blood coming out which defines her as a Yoledes, and one may thus desecrate Shabbos on her behalf from that time and on. Others[36] however argue against this claim and say it has no source, and it happens that the water breaks much time prior to the birth. Others[37] say that if the breaking of the waters is accompanied by contractions then she is considered a Yoledes.


If one has not yet reached the above stage but a Doctor says that Shabbos must be desecrated for her, may one do so?[38]




[1] As the Torah states “Lo Saamod Al Dam Reiacha” [M”B 328:6; See also Admur 329:8 and Hilchos Shemiras Haguf Vehanefesh 7]

[2] Admur 328:2; Michaber 328:2; Mishneh Yuma 83a

The reason: The reason for all the above is because it says [in the verse] “That one should do and live by them” and what is “and live by them” trying to teach us? It is saying that one should see to it that one will for certain live through doing the Mitzvah and should not [do so if] he will come through this [Mitzvos] to a case of a possible life-threatening danger. [Admur 328:2 and 329:3; Shmuel Yuma 85b; M”B 328:4; Biur Halacha 329:3 “Ela”]

[3] Admur ibid; Michaber 329:3; Mishneh Yuma ibid

[4] Admur 330:1 “A Yoledes is [considered] like a dangerously ill person and one [thus] is to desecrate Shabbos on her behalf for all of her needs.”; Michaber 330:1; Mishneh Shabbos 128b; Nitei Gavriel 59:1; Toras Hayoledes 33-34

[5] Daas Torah 328:14; Chasam Sofer 82; Imrei Yosher 2:193; Nitei Gavriel 59:5

[6] Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:4 and 6 and 9 [new]; Toras Hayoledes 38

[7] As during a miscarriage she is considered like a dangerously ill person.

[8] See Toras Hayoledes 1:2; Nitei Gavriel 61:14; Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:1 footnote 7; 330:2 footnote 24; 248:4

[9] Toras Hayoledes 1 footnote 5; Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:2 footnote 25;

[10] Sefer Chassidim 793; See Nidda 38a brought in next Halacha; Maharil 203; See Toras Hayoledes p. 13 in length regarding a discussion if Shabbos is Dechuya or Hutra’; Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:2 footnote 22-23; See Kaf Hachaim Falagi 27:25 who negates the above

[11] Nidda 38a; Yifei Laleiv 2; Ben Yehoyada Niddah 38a; Meiy Da’as 240:20; Sheyikadesh Atzmo 8 footnote 2

[12] Admur 330:1 “Nevertheless [despite the fact that she is considered like a dangerously ill patient], since the pain of a Yoledes is natural and not [even] 1 of 1000 die from childbirth, therefore the Sages were stringent to require one to change [from his way of normally doing the action needed of desecrating Shabbos] in whatever he is able to change in it.”; Michaber 330:1; Rambam Shabbos; Rav Ashi Shabbos 128b; M”A 330:2; Nitei Gavriel 61:1; Toras Hayoledes 33-34  

[13] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:1 footnote 9; Sefer Hayoledes 32

[14] For example, if one needs to bring the woman a vessel through a public area then her assistant should bring it through tying it to her hair which is carrying in an irregular way and does not contain a Biblical prohibition. The same applies for all cases of the like. If she [the Yoledes] needs oil then her friend should not smear oil on her hair and then come to her [the Yoledes] and squeeze the oil out, rather she should bring it in a vessel which is hanging on her hair, as it is better to carry [the oil] with a vessel in an irregular way, without any other prohibition, then to add in doing the squeezing prohibition, even though that squeezing hair is only Rabbinically forbidden as was explained in chapter 326 [Halacha 5]. [Admur 330:1; Michaber 330:1; Rambam Shabbos; Rav Ashi Shabbos 128b]

[15] M”B 330:5; 328:35

[16] Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:1 footnote 8

[17] Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:1 footnote 9

[18] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:1 footnote 9; Sefer Hayoledes 32

[19] Nitei Gavriel Chapter 59; Toras Hayoledes Chapter 34

[20] See Toras Hayoledes chapter 9 in great length for all details relating to using the phone on Shabbos

[21] Admur 330:1 “One may call a midwife for her from one place to another. One may help her give birth.”; See Toras Hayoledes chapter 35 for all the typical Melachos that are performed during a birth and their Halachic status.

Homebirth on Shabbos: See Toras Hayoledes chapter 6 for the full details of how to facilitate a Shabbos homebirth with the least possible Shabbos desecration

Matters that involve Shabbos desecration during birth: See Toras Hayoledes Chapter 35 for laws relating to: 1) Cutting the umbilical cord; 2) Turning on light; 3) Writing or typing information; 4) Blood test to determine one’s blood type. 5) Urine test. 6) Shaving of hair. 7) bathing. 8) IV. 9) medication. 10) breaching amniotic sac’s. 11) Ultrasound. 12) Stripping 13) C-section 14) Checking for GBS. 15) Weighing the baby. 16) Raising or lowering the electric bed. 17) Turning on the heater for the child.

[22] Admur 330:1 “At night one may light a candle for her. [Furthermore] even if she is blind and even if the other women which are assisting her do not require this candle, as they are able to fully assist her without a candle, [nevertheless] one lights a candle for her.”; Michaber 330:1; Shabbos 128b; Taz 330:1; M”A 330:2; See Toras Hayoledes chapter 5 in length!

The reason: As although she [the patient] cannot see she becomes calmer upon knowing that there is light here, as she tells herself that if there is anything that she needs my friends can see and can do so for me. However, if she were to know that there is no candle here then there is worry that she will become endangered due to fear in her heart, as she will fear that perhaps the assistors are not doing properly what she needs done. [Admur ibid; Taz 330:1; M”A 330:2]

[23] Piskeiy Teshuvos 328:14

[24] Piskeiy Teshuvos 328:4

[25] Admur 330:3 “From when is a [woman] defined as a Yoledes [in the process of giving birth] to be allowed to desecrate Shabbos [on her behalf]? From when she sits on the birthing stool, or from the time that the blood is drooling out, or from the time that her friends [have to] carry her by her arms due to her not having strength to walk. Once any of the above has begun to occur one is [allowed] to desecrate Shabbos on her behalf for all her needs which are able to be done now without delay.”; Michaber 330:3; Rambam Shabbos 2:13; Abayey and Rav Huna Shabbos 129a; See Shevet Halevi 8:88; Toras Hayoledes Chapter 3 and 30; Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:3

[26] Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Rambam ibid; Abayey ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:3 footnote 26-27

[27] Aruch Hashulchan 330:4

[28] SSH”K 36:8; Toras Hayoledes 3:1

[29] Toras Hayoledes 29

[30] Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:3

[31] Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Rambam ibid; Rav Huna ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:3 footnote 28

[32] Toras Hayoledes 30; Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:3

[33] Nitei Gavriel 58:1

[34] Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Rashi Shabbos ibid; Taz 330:3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:3 footnote 30

[35] SSH”K 36:9

[36] Toras Hayoledes Chapter 29; Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:3 footnote 29

[37] Sheivet Halevy 8:88; Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:3 footnote 29

[38] Piskeiy Teshuvos 330:3

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