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QUESTION

Chicago, IL

There is a 12 month old baby in our shul who has had a fever for several days. (He tested negative for COVID and his parents are both fully vaccinated.) His pediatrician asked his parents to bring the child in for an examination on Shabbat if his fever has not broken by then. They asked my guidance on how to bring their child to the doctor.

I assume that a child in a stable condition with a persistent fever is a חולה שאין בו סכנה and that derabanan violations can be undertaken for his medical care. In this case they can take an Uber to the pediatrician or they can push a stroller outside the eiruv to the pediatrician (a 40 – 60 minute walk).

Is my evaluation correct? Or, is an infant with a fever that lasts this long in a more grave halakhic category? Is there a preference that they walk, even such a long distance, rather than take an Uber (or public transit)? Thank you!

ANSWER

In line with what many poskim write (and as a matter of practice we hold) that for a small child even a small fever (particularly when you don’t know the reason) is considered pikuach nefesh. See Iggrot Moshe OH 1:129,

אדם חוששין כשהוא קרוב למדת מאה ושנים שהוא חם ביותר ולכן על מדה זו מחללין ואין רשאין להחמיר. ואם אחד חושש גם בקרוב למאה ואחד ורוצה שיחללו עליו נמי מחללין דלא גרע ממכה שאינה של חלל שאם החולה אמר שצריך לחלול שמחללין. ובתינוק שאין שייך זה אם רואין שמצטער ביותר וכדומה לזה מה שניכר שהוא חולה אף שהחום הוא קטן רק יותר ממאה מחללין. סוף דבר אם רק לא ברור להו להחשיב שהוא מעט חום מחללין.

As you can see, Rav Moshe writes that even over 100 is considered life threatening. So if there were a need, you would violate Shabbat even in a case of de’orayta.

That being said, it does not seem that it is necessary here. There is no reason for the health of the child that their car is better than an Uber. If there is a genuine reason – like higher concern for infection – then they can take their car. They should check with the doctor to make sure that this is a reason for concern. As to pushing the stroller – on the one hand, it is just an inconvenience for them, which is not related to the health of the child. On the other hand, if such exposure for a prolonged period of time is NOT good for the health of the child, it is not an option. Assuming that it is irrelevant to the child’s health – you are most probably dealing with a derabanan (I assume there is no real Reshut HaRabim on the walk) – so it is a derabanan beyadayim (pushing the stroller) versus amirah lenokhri (Uber). The latter is definitely preferred by Halakha (and I assume by them).

If they do the Uber – I would arrange it before Shabbat (payment is not an issue!), and make sure the driver turns of the interior light or opens the door.