Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Daf Halachah - Shabbos 67a

מסכת שבת דף סז ע"א:
משנה: יוצאין בביצת החרגול ובשן שועל ובמסמר מן הצלוב משום רפואה דברי רבי מאיר וחכמים אוסרין אף בחול משום דרכי האמורי:
Mishnah: It is permitted to go out on Shabbos with a locust's egg, with a fox's tooth, or with a nail from one who was crucified, for purposes of healing. These are the words of R' Meir, but the Sages prohibit even during the week, because of the ways of the Emorites.
Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 301:27)1 rules in accordance with the view attributed to R’ Meir: So long as it is obvious that a folk remedy is being used for healing purposes, it is permitted to use it, and therefore permissible to wear it in the public domain on Shabbos (as in the case of any proven remedy [a קמיע מומחה ]; see Mishnah Berurah 301:1042). If, however, it is not obvious that the folk remedy is for healing purposes, it is forbidden to use it - because of the prohibition of following “in the ways of the Emorites,” i.e. giving credence to superstition - and therefore it is also forbidden to wear this folk remedy in the public domain on Shabbos.
Shemiras Shabbos K’Hilchasah 34:15 extrapolates from these permitted cases to contemporary “alternative medicine” remedies - viz., anti-rheumatism copper or magnetic bracelets. Although the bracelets are of dubious therapeutic value,3 nevertheless their use is permissible because it is evident that the user does believe they are therapeutic, and they are obviously being worn for that purpose. They therefore are not in the category of a superstitious remedy, and therefore may be worn in the public domain on Shabbos (see Mishnah Berurah 301:1054).
It therefore seems, that while alternative remedies that are well-known to be based on some form of therapeutic theory - even a questionable theory - may be worn in the public domain on Shabbos, remedies that are purely “spiritual” (even if imbued with some “mystical” character, so long as the remedy is not proven), and therefore known not to be based on any form of therapeutic theory, would be forbidden to be worn in the public domain on Shabbos. This rule would preclude wearing red threads (the “roite bendel”) as bracelets in a public domain on Shabbos.
1. שו"ע אורח חיים סימן ש"א סעיף כ"ז: יוצאין בביצת החרגול ובשן של שועל ובמסמר הצלוב בין בחול בין בשבת ואין בו משום דרכי האמורי וכן בכל דבר שהוא משום רפואה אבל אם עושה מעשה ואין ניכר בו שהוא משום רפואה אסור משום דרכי האמורי...
2. משנה ברורה סימן ש"א ס"ק ק"ד: בביצת החרגול - הוא חגב ועיין בגמרא למאי עבדי כל דברים אלו ובזמנם היו אלו דברים איתמחו לרפואה ויש להם דין קמיע מומחה ושרי לצאת בהן כשהן תלויין עליו:
From Rheumors, “A quarterly publication brought to you by Arthritis & Rheumatism Associates, P.C.,” Volume 3, Number 2, Spring 1992: Q. What will a copper bracelet do for my arthritis?A. Probably very little. The use of copper in healing dates back to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. Even modern folklore holds the copper bracelet as having certain curative properties for arthritis. Although some poorly controlled and inadequately designed studies have shown limited effectiveness, there is little scientific evidence to allow confidence in the use of a copper bracelet as the sole treatment for arthritis. If you'd like to chance a "cure" it wouldn't hurt you, but it probably wouldn't help you either. Use it along with your aspirin! Herbert S.B. Baraf, M.D.
4. משנה ברורה סימן ש"א ס"ק ק"ה: ואין ניכר בו משום רפואה - היינו שאין ניכר שיהיה לרפואה והא דמותר בדברים הנ"ל כיון שיאמרו היודעים שהוא לרפואה מצד הסגולה הוי כניכר:

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