What factors go into determining the permissibility of taking a pill on Yom Kippur when there is no chance the patient will die if they fail to take the pill for 25 hours?

The case here is not one of Safek Pikuach Nefesh, however the doctor would prefer that the pill not be skipped but he would not be prepared to say that there is any actual Pikuach Nefesh involved.

A person I was talking to insisted that the pill is too insignificant and non-food and there is no problem dry-swallowing a pill that is needed for health. I was a bit hesitant that the heter is so clear.

So what are the underlying Halachic considerations here?

1 Answer 1


Halachipedia suggests:

A person who is a Choleh SheEin Bo skana is permissible to take medicine on Yom Kippur if it doesn’t have a good taste. If one needs to have it with liquid one should have mouthwash.

The footnote for the above links to Rav Schachter's shiur Halachot of Yamim Nora'im.

My own opinion on the above quote - I don't recommend swallowing Listerine or the like, as that would cause more harm. I think by "mouthwash" they meant salt water or baking soda water.

  • Vinegar? I've always heard that water is mutar for medecine. Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 21:58
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    Thanks. I listened to the part of the shiur that they referenced. He says "a little bit of mouthwash won't kill anybody." He seems to mean Listerine or its cousins.
    – Yishai
    Commented Aug 6, 2014 at 21:58
  • @DanF I believe Rabbi Belsky rules that all but the original Listerine (which he calls "brown") are not permitted for use because of their (potentially non-kosher) glycerine content - which is what also makes them tolerable.)
    – Loewian
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 3:07
  • @DanF I'm assuming the capsule to which your referring is unflavored. That seems to be generally considered a reason for leniency. Glycerin is used as a sweetener, making it much more problematic.
    – Loewian
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 18:02
  • @Loewian Well, unless you consider "old" fish a "flavor" (I have trouble swallowing big capsules), then, yes, that's correct. I didn't know that fact about glycerin.
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 18:05

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