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Is it permitted to take medicine on a fast day?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


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The rule of thumb is that there are three general types of medication:

1) Medicine which is critical to one's health, and missing the daily dosage can pose a serious health risk. Such medicine can and must be taken, exactly as ordered by the doctor, even on Yom Kippur. If possible, the medicine should be swallowed without liquid (or food), but if this isn't an option then the person should drink the minimum amount of water necessary in order to swallow the medication. If food must be ingested with the medicine, a rabbi should be consulted. He will prescribe the most "Halachically acceptable" method of eating.

2) Medicine which is important for one's health, but can be missed one day without posing a risk. On Yom Kippur, such medicine can only be taken without food or liquid. On all other fasts, one may take such medicine with minimum necessary amount of food or liquid if it cannot be ingested otherwise.

3) Non-critical medications such as Tylenol. Such medicines can be taken without liquid or food even on Yom Kippur. This is not considered eating. These medicines may not be taken with liquid or food on any fast day. 

Be sure to consult with your rabbi if you have any doubt to which category your particular medication belongs. If necessary, he will consult with your physician before issuing his ruling.

TAGS: medicine


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Miscellaneous » Health Issues » Halachah for the Ill

Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.
According to Jewish law.