Rehabilitation Scooter on Shabbos

I know this all sounds self-indulgent, but that’s not the purpose. As I’ve always said, I post what happens to be “invading my head space”. One can see Chassidishe Rebbes, especially the rotund ones, or the graceful Ruzhiner types, walking with a fancy walking stick, which may have gold or silver on the handle. Looking back at old footage, there was a preponderance of people using plain old walking sticks. They were far more in use than today.

I believe the major reason was that a common injury, such as a medial meniscal tear, which isn’t operated on, will allow you to walk, but with a limp. There was also lots more Tragers (carriers) who bore loads which would breach our Occupational, Health and Safety Regulations.

If someone broke an ankle, as I did, I would imagine the resultant pain and arthritis would be life-long, and, again, the ubiquitous walking stick would make it’s entry.

What happens on Shabbos? One can’t carry of course. Is using a walking stick considered carrying? It’s certainly not a “garment”. This is an old question which Acharonim have discussed variously. My feeling is that the consensus is that it is permitted. The reason being that, if the person needed the stick to get around inside the house, it becomes part and parcel of that person’s being, and is permitted also outside the house.

I can well remember my late Zeyda Yidel Balbin ע’ה

I believe this picture was at the setting of the stone for Katanga
I believe this picture was at the setting of the stone for Katanga. My Zelda is in the front on the right, with Rabbi Chaim Gutnick looking into his Tehillim

and his reluctance to use the stick, even though he needed to. I could feel the “guilt” he seemed to exude, even as a little boy.

This now brings me to my situation. I no longer have a cast; I’m in that moon boot contraption. I’m not allowed to put weight on the foot (and boy did I break those rules at a recent Simcha and feel it after) and indeed putting weight on the foot, actually hurts. It makes no difference whether I am inside or outside. The situation is the same.

I also have fractured ribs, which B”H are improving, but this, and my general clumsiness meant that crutches were not an option for me. Enter the rehab scooter

Rehab ScooterThe idea is that I place my damaged leg horizontally on the “seat” and use the other leg to push me to my destination. There is a brake.

As well as I recollect, it is forbidden to ride a bike on Shabbos, Miderabonnon, because there is a concern the chain may come off, and various maintenance activities may be necessary.

I started to wonder whether this scooter, was included (perhaps it is not included because it wasn’t originally and the chances of any maintenenance being needed are close to zero) or whether it had the same Din as a stick. My feeling was that on Shabbos, even in a Reshus HoRabbim D’Orayso, it would be permitted, but I wasn’t about to pasken for myself, despite my self-assuredness.

Mori V’Rabbi, Rav Hershel Schachter paskened I could use the contraption (his words).

Please note: I did not ask, nor did he comment about the use of scooters in a place which has an Eruv. That may involve עובדין דחול as well, and people need to ask their Moreh HoRo’oh.