[Avodah] May a person who is ill eat or drink on Yom Kippur?

Prof. L. Levine llevine at stevens.edu
Mon Sep 13 08:47:45 PDT 2021

>From today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. May a person who is ill eat or drink on Yom Kippur?

A. If a person is a choleh sheyesh bo sakanah (suffering from a life-threatening illness), it is forbidden to fast. Rather, it is a mitzvah for such an individual to eat on Yom Kippur. Nonetheless, halacha stipulates that when possible, the breaking of the fast should be minimized by eating or drinking less than the shiur (amount) for which a healthy individual would be liable for the Divine punishment of kares. In practice, when feasible, one who is ill should eat less than the volume of a large date and drink less than a cheek full. Both of these volumes are somewhere between 1 to 1 ¼ fluid ounces.

The Shulchan Aruch states that when a time span of kedai achilas pas has elapsed, the same amounts can be eaten and drunk again. There are a wide range of opinions for the length of this time span, ranging from 2-9 minutes. It is recommended that the reader consult their local rabbi.

If these amounts do not alleviate the life-threatening situation, the person who is ill may eat and drink in a normal manner. Once the danger to one’s health has passed, continued eating and drinking should be limited to the shiur described above. (Shulchan Aruch 618-7 and 8 and Beur Halacha s.v. ve’im)

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