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  • Halacha
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crutches at shul


Rabbi David Sperling

Tishrei 3, 5781
Dear rabbi, due to a serious accident I had but did not have a broken bone BS "D I am forced to walk on crutches for at least two to three weeks to prevent another accident that would cause a torn ligament. Therefore I went to Rosh Hashana with crutches even though I had pain (I am not allowed to take painkillers because of Ashtma). I had a hunch that this might be forbidden by the Halacha. But for me it was more important to be there and to hear the shofar. I did that and I feel good with my decision. This has caused irritation to someone who finds it unorthodox to be in the synagogue on crutches. My question is: should I stay home for the next Shabbat and Yom Kippur although I feel the duty and want to go? The irritation of the person doesn’t bother me personally, because he was speaking from emotion, but your opinion is important to me. Could you please explain me the halachich answer?.
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Firstly, let me send you blessing for a quick and full recovery. May you have only good health. It is totally permitted to use crutches on Shabbat and the Festivals. However, there does exist an issue of using crutches on Shabbat in a place where there is no “eruv” that permits carrying on Shabbat. (On a weekday Yom Tov one is allowed to carry). The law is that if you are able to walk without the crutches, then it is forbidden to use them outside one’s house in an area that is not fenced off by an “eruv”. If, on the other hand you can walk without the crutches (but use them for extra support, or to stop another accident etc), then it is forbidden to use them outside, as this would be a form of “carrying” the crutches. (Of course, if you live in an area that have a religious “eruv” that permits carrying, then it is permitted to use crutches in any case). [See Shulchan Aruch, Orech Haim, 301:15-18]. So, in answer to your question – there is no problem in using crutches in shule, or anywhere, on Shabbat or Festivals. However, if you live in a place where it is forbidden to carry on Shabbat (and Yom Kippur), then it would sound like you cannot use the crutches to go to shule. This is because it sounds (from your question) as though you can walk without the help of the crutches, but only desire to use them to gain extra support. In such a case they are not considered as permitted items to “carry” outside with. Of course, even if you do not have a “eruv”, you could leave a spare pare of crutches in the shule from before the start of the Shabbat etc, and, if it is possible for you, get someone to help you gently walk to shule (supported by them on their arm). Blessings.
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