Carrying from One Domain to Another
10.A woman is allowed to support her child while he walks (1), even in a
public domain, as long as she does not drag him. Rather, the child must
lift up one leg while supporting himself on the other, which is placed on
the ground until the raised leg comes back down, so that he is always
supporting himself on one leg. If, however, she drags him with both legs
on the ground, it is the equivalent of carrying him, and is forbidden even
in a "carmelis" (2).
Carrying a child, even if he is big enough to walk by himself, is
forbidden, even in a "carmelis." [Although the Sages ruled that], "a
living being carries itself," (3) [the intent was not that carrying a
living being, which is capable of walking itself, is actually permissible,
but rather that if one did so inadvertantly], one would not have to bring a
sin-offering (4) (when the Temple stands in Jerusalem). Carrying such a
being is considered a "sh'vus" (Rabbinical prohibition), and in a
"carmelis," a "sh'vus of a sh'vus" ("a rabbinical prohibition within the
context of another rabbinical prohibition") (5). The public should be
informed about this matter because it is a source of error.
(1) That is, one may support the child by holding his arms from behind,
while the child moves his legs and walks (See Shabbos 128b).
(2) According to Rashi, dragging a child is the equivalent of carrying him,
however, there are other authorities who rule that dragging is not the
equivalent of carrying, and was only prohibited so that people would not
come to inadvertently start carrying the child; therefore, according to
these more lenient authorities, dragging is only prohibited regarding
children who cannot walk themselves, even while being supported from
behind, because carrying that sort of child in a public domain, would be a
violation of Biblical law (See below note (3) and (5)) (See Mishna Berura
308:154 and Biur Halacha).
(3) The principle "A living being carries itself" ("Chai Noseh es Atzmo")
means that carry a living being is not considered a violation of the
Biblical prohibition against carrying on Shabbos, because the being, to a
certain extent, is holding itself up (hence the difference in weight
between carrying a sleeping baby, and one that is awake). Most authorities
rule that this principle does not apply to infants who still drag their
feet while they walk (that is, they can't support themselves on one leg as
described in note (1) above (See the Aruch HaShulchan 308:67).
(4) A sin-offering ("Chatas") is brought for unintentional violations of
Biblical Shabbos laws (as well as other specific types of violations
outside the framework of the laws of Shabbos).
(5) Even those acts of carrying prohibited by Rabbinic law, such as
carrying a living being, are prohibited in a "carmelis," within which
carrying on Shabbos is only a Rabbinical prohibition.