Carrying: Using a Cane on Shabbat

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May 9, 2013

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Unfortunately, my legs have been giving me a lot of trouble lately and I am unable to walk unaided. Is there any way I can walk outdoors using a walker or a cane, or is that an issue of carrying on Shabbat?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

First of all, I wish you a speedy recovery.

Regarding the issue of carrying out of doors, there is an interesting relevant principle. If a person cannot walk at all without a cane (or walker), the cane is considered as a limb of his body – as a third leg. If so, using it outside is not considered carrying and is permitted.

However, if you can get around a bit without a cane – i.e., you walk around the house without it – then even if you do need it outside the cane cannot be considered a part of you, and you would not be permitted to carry it outside (Shulchan Aruch 301:17; see also The Shabbos Home by ArtScroll Mesorah Publications, Ch. 9 Note 26).

(Note that if your neighborhood has an eruv, then carrying would be permitted outdoors altogether. The same is true for a fenced-in backyard.)

It sounds from the way you described your situation that you would be permitted to use the cane outside. If God willing your legs improve, you would have to stop.

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