Shmiras Shabbos Blamed for Death of Elderly Woman


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lawsuitAccording to the lawsuit filed with the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court, the staff of a Bnei Brak geriatric facility refused to summon a physician on Shabbos even though the elderly patient’s condition worsened.

According to the MyNet report, the staff refused to call a doctor when the condition of the 85-year-old woman took a turn for the worse. The woman was a resident of the geriatric facility since 2001.

The lawsuit says the incident occurred in February 2012. The family detected her respirations were labored and when they turned to the charge nurse, she told them “your mother will be the first seen by the doctor when he arrives on Sunday morning.” The lawsuit adds that the staff realized her condition was critical on motzei Shabbos, at which time she was transported immediately to Beilinson Hospital, where she died four days later.

The lawsuit states the nurse should have summoned a doctor when realizing the lady’s respirations were labored and not tell the family she would see a doctor on Sunday “when the doctor returns from his day off, Shabbos”.

The geriatric facility responded explaining it has just received the lawsuit and it is studying the details of the case.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. The fact that the nurse said Sunday and not Saturday night means it wasn’t because of shabbos but rather because of the doctor’s day off.

  2. Your headline is not correct. The Mechaber (Orach Chaim 328:12) states that in a case of pikuach nefesh on Shabbos, DAVKA those who will not dally, should do whatever it takes to save a life. See the Mishnah Brura, 328:34. THIS IS THE SHMIRAS SHABBOS. What the nursing home did, was human error – and if the staff thought they were being “frum” by not calling in the doctor – THEIR NOT DOING MELACHA WAS IN FACT BREAKING SHABBOS!

    No coincidence – this very week, my family is transferring my mother, who has Alzheimer’s, from one nursing home to another, DAVKA because of the staff’s repeated medical mistakes. It is no wonder that many of the elderly fight like lions to stay in their homes and out of nursing homes.

  3. sfak pekuach nefesh mechel et haShabbos. don’t wait for a vadai pekuach nefesh to break shabbos; even if it is a sfek: a possibility that this may be deadly, you are REQUIRED to break the Shabbos. REQUIRED TO BREAK SHABBOS; it is not a possibility but a requirement!

    This halacha should be taught over and over again.

  4. That’s not called shmiras Shabbos; it’s called shmiras off-day.

    Please don’t besmirch Shabbos for this since this was not due to kedushas Shabbos.

  5. Article title is misleading. Shmiras Shabbos should never cause risk of life. Delaying emergency care is foolishness NOT Shmiras Shabbos.