Where can one find the earliest rabbinic discussion about it being okay to put non-kosher animal products into one's human body, as long as it is not in a digestive manner?

I would like my question to be not under the idea of saving a life, but simply asking a question, where does such a discussion take place.

It appears there is no Torah law that prohibits the injection of non-kosher elements into one's blood stream. True (I think), but where is this discussed by the rabbis?

Here is an example of what I mean, one can hear rabbis say that (as we all know), it is forbidden for a Jew to eat non-kosher food, and that (not everyone knows, it appears) a Jew can inject or bring-into-the-body elements (such as insulin, etc.) derived from non-kosher animals, even from pigs.

Reminder: I am not asking about pikuach nefesh situations.

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    Possible duplicate of Acceptable to receive transplant of organs grown inside pigs? Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 16:33
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    Why do you say you don't want to be taken in the context of saving a life and then give insulin as an example of what you mean??
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 17:04
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    Adding onto @DoubleAA’s question, a very easy example is pain relievers, which in my experience can lack a hechsher on the chewable/liquids but don’t require one on the swallowables.
    – DonielF
    Commented Dec 13, 2017 at 17:11
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    To close voters: The OP here is not asking about pikuach nefesh situations. I don’t care that we’re at 4/5 close votes - this is not a dupe, and if it gets closed, someone please ping me so that I can vote to reopen.
    – DonielF
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 9:42
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    @ninamag I don't know that there is an example, which would make your question pointless. It is your responsibility to motivate it.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 3:07

2 Answers 2


The Biur Halachah Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim (326:10) writes in the name of the Gra that one should be strict and not use non-kosher soap all year (sicha kishtiya) although this does not conform with the majority of opinions that follow the Rabeinu Tam and a lot of Rishonim that says it is permitted to use non-kosher soap. tosfos in Nidda 32a which the Biur Halacha is referring to says putting fats on an open wound to heal it is permitted. the wound is the entrance for the fat to go inside the body. there is therefore no difference to outer skin or inner skin exposure in this Machlokes.

In conclusion: Rabbeinu Tam says non kosher foods can be inserted into the body, the Gra says that its forbidden to be inserted.


As you clarified in the comments, you are asking both about injections but also about "eating not in the normal manner" (e.g., pills) -- for a healthy person as well as a non-seriously ill patient. Here are some relevant sources, which are mostly found in cases of "eating not in the normal manner" for non-seriously ill patients (since things are more lenient for the seriously ill patient) and doesn't cover healthy individuals (since the rationale to inject/ingest forbidden things is not obvious).

The Tzitz Eliezer (quoted in Nishmat Avraham vol 2, p. 31) permits a non-seriously ill patient to take a medicine prescribed by a physician even if it originates from that which is forbidden. He also permits tablets or capsules made from [non-kosher] gelatine to be swallowed by a non-seriously ill patient and does not require them to be opened so that only the powder contained in them be swallowed (but he forbids lozenges that have to be sucked.)

In a longer exposition on the topic (pp. 65ff) he brings a number of additional opinions

  • the Radbaz permits a non-seriously ill patient to eat all Rabbinicaly forbidden food [personal note: and even more so if not eating them in the usual manner or injecting them], however the Rashba, the Rivash, the Ran, the Shulchan Aruch and the Mishna Brura all disagree
  • the Ketav Sofer writes a non-seriously ill patient may eat a forbidden food as a cure if he eats it in an unusual manner of if he mixes it with something bitter, so that he does not enjoy the taste. This is true whether the food is only forbidden to be eaten or even if it is forbidden to have any benefit from it. If he does not need the food for a cure but only to strengthen him, he should act strictly and not eat it, even in an unusual manner, since by eating it he gives it importance. On the other hand, since eating it in in an usual manner is only a Rabbinic transgression, one may act leniently if necessary
  • the Pri Megadim writes that it is known that a non-seriously ill patient may be fed rabbinically forbidden food if he eats it in an unusual manner [e.g., pills or injections]. If, however, there are two different sorts of such foods available, the one which involves a lesser degree of prohibition is given to him

In cases where the substance to ingest or inject have first undergone a chemical change such that it is no longer edible (even if it is still edible to animals though not fit for human consumption), the Achiezer and Chavot Da'at permit it however the Sha'agat Aryeh forbid it for the non-seriously ill patient (vol. 2, p. 30).

Remember to always CYLOR if this becomes relevant in real life.

PS. For the sake of clarification, since it was asked in the comments, this answer focuses on non-seriously ill patients since the halacha is more lenient with seriously ill patients, but this question was explicitly focused on not using the leniency of pikuach nefesh (saving a life).


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