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Carrying: Using a Cane on Shabbat

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.

Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld

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