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10 year-old girl has an asthma attack on Shabbat


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Iyyar 15, 5779
The asthma attack is not so severe. Are we allowed to give her asthma medication, even though she can survive without it and is only slightly uncomfortable? Are we allowed to take her to a doctor outside of the camp to ensure that she is getting the proper care? If she runs out of her inhalers, are we allowed to go to a pharmacy that is within walking distance and pick up another inhaler? We do not have to pay money for the new one.
ב"ה As I mentioned in my previous answer, medicine for asthma may be taken on Shabbat .(Shemirat Shabbat kehilchata Chapter 33:23, New edition) Travelling to a doctor on Shabbat, would be allowed if there is a doubt of danger to life, but travelling on Shabbat simply for clarifications from a doctor for things which are not a danger to life, is forbidden. In regard to the inhalers, to the best of my knowledge the inhalers all have measured doses which are marked on the inhaler, so you have time in advance to be prepared. Going to a pharmacy on Shabbat, owned by a gentile, may have some complications to it, not necessarily because of purchasing. First you have to make sure, you are in an area with an Eruv so that you may carry the medicines(.In country areas you may run into issues of Techum Shabbat. .) Secondly, you have to be aware of electronic devices activated while in the store, such as automatic doors and the like. Thirdly, there are issues of entering a store on Shabbat, though for the case of medicine, they wouldn't apply. (See Yalkut yoseph Shabbat vol. II, (סי' ש"ו) As far as getting the medicine itself, the pharmacist has to do actions which are considered "Chilul Shabbat"= desecration of Shabbat. Such as printing the prescription and other things. However, when a gentile does an action which is Chilul Shabbat which serves his purposes but not for the sake of the Jew, it is permitted on Shabbat. (see Shemirat Shabbat kehilchata Chapter 30: 24, New edition).In addition, even though normally, one may not ask a gentile to perform Chilul Shabbat for him, for the needs of an ill person, even when not in danger, one may ask a gentile. (See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 328:17).(See also Shemirat Shabbat kehilchata Chapter 33:4) None the less, I still believe it is best to be well stocked and avoid doing so on Shabbat and I would ask your local Rabbi or camp Rabbi if he has any reservations about such a practice. All the Best and once again Refu'ah Shleima.
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