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Israel - Rabbi: Patients Permitted on Yom Kippur as Much 'Stale' Water As Needed

Published on: October 8, 2008 07:23 AM
By: Ynet
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Israel - A halachic breakthrough by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, allows patients to drink as much “stale” water as they wish during Yom Kippur.

The innovative ruling was issued following years during which patients were instructed by rabbis to only drink small amounts of water not exceeding 9 cc and consume them once every 15 minutes.  But, following an appeal by medical activists in the haredi sector, Rabbi Elyashiv ruled that there is no need to drink small amounts of water and that every person with a doctor’s approval could consume an unlimited amount of “stale” water as far as Jewish Law is concerned.

“Stale” water is water which has lost its taste and become bitter or sour. This water is only meant to be consumed by patients and must not be drank by healthy people who are capable of fasting. This water has been examined by a pharmacist and medically approved.


The Lev Malka association is the first to take advantage of the ruling and work to implement it at synagogues. The association’s chairman, Rabbi Aharon Aberman, immediately turned to a pharmacist and asked him to prepare a large amount of “stale water” containing salt or onion, which cause the water to lose its natural flavor and give it a bitter taste.

“The seemingly stale water is bitter or sour water compounded by a professional pharmacist, and will cause no medical harm. On the contrary, the water’s only flaw is its taste, enabling the patients to drink unlimited amounts of it,” Aberman explained.

The association is handing out the water bottles to all those interested. Each bottle contains 34 ounces of water, and several bottles could be ordered for a subsidized price.

According to Aberman, “This year, because we were short in time and did not prepare, we didn’t manage to get a large number of bottles ready. We estimate, however, that this water will gain popularity next year and will become a must-have product.”


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Read Comments (12)  —  Post Yours »


 Oct 08, 2008 at 08:49 AM moshe Says:

So where do we get stale water in New York for those with illness that makes fasting dangerous?


 Oct 08, 2008 at 09:04 AM Anonymous Says:

SALT? won't salt in the water dehydrate and make an choleh even thirstier?


 Oct 08, 2008 at 11:18 AM jimmy37 Says:

Drinking salt water is dangerous for heart patients.


 Oct 08, 2008 at 11:44 AM Anonymous Says:

y is it called a breakthough??????


 Oct 08, 2008 at 11:54 AM Anonymous Says:

It's probably just normal saline (.9% )which is no problem for any patient as long as it doesn't exceed what they normally consume in one day.


 Oct 08, 2008 at 11:36 AM Anonymous Says:

farkert! Sodium in water helps the body properly absorb the water. Ever heard of pedialyte?


 Oct 08, 2008 at 02:18 PM Anonymous Says:

Frow what I heard, they use powdered vitamin C which is bitter and is not harmful but causes the water to be bitter.


 Oct 08, 2008 at 02:10 PM baruch Says:

If a person is so ill that he is permitted to drink, then why should there be a necessity for spoiled water. On the contrary, fresh water would most likely be exactly what he needs to revive him. After all isn't he in the category of pikuach nefesh for which we not only may but must m'challel Shabbos. This matter is so strong that a Rav is called a murderer whose town members must first consult with him during an emergency before initiating a rescue. In other words, his neglect to educate them in the principle of v'chai ba'hen is accounted as analogous to a criminal act. This matter is of the highest importance and hence the responsibility is so great that a rav, when directly witnessing someone in such peril, should himself attend to the choleh. Ma'aseh HaRav is the greatest proof and we know that the m'chaber of Shulchan Aruch HaRav was tardy for shul one frigid Yom Kippur morning as he stopped to light a fire for a mother whose was ill after childbirth. Ah g'mar chasima tova.


 Oct 08, 2008 at 03:01 PM Allan Says:

I think the entire issue is just insane. This is why some turn away from being observant/frum. Is not the preserving of a Jewish life sometimes more important than crossing every T and dotting every I? I'm taking medicine than will keep me from getting sicker and possibly dying. One medicine should be taken with food and swallowed with liquid...tell me should I die because of a rule that needs to be broken. Will me getting sicker and dying make me a better Jew I think not!!


 Oct 08, 2008 at 03:56 PM Fry Says:

Providing water a bad taste is not high technology, though providing water to those incapable of fasting has been around for centuries. Are there any T'shuvos on this subject? There must be! Just because we live in an age of weird chumros, doesn't mean that this latest ruling falls under such a category.( What bothers me, is the additional expense to already high health costs.)


 Oct 09, 2008 at 08:18 PM Anonymous Says:

To #s 8 & 9

EVERYONE (including R' Elyashiv Shlit"a) agrees that one who needs to drink large amounts of natural water on Yom Kippur in order to live MUST do so. But eating/drinking on Yom Kippur is quite a serious matter (not just dotting "I"s and "T"s) - one who transgresses is liable of kares. Therefore, one who's condition compels him to eat/drink must discuss the issue with his doctor and then with a competent Rabbi. In many (if not most) cases there is no danger if the patient drinks this "stale" water, thereby, he can circumvent any direct transgression. More so, if he will not be in danger in this way, and he instead drinks regular water, he could possibly be liable of kares. This is not a "chumra", rather "m'ikar hadin". R' Elyashiv (and most other Rabbis) are competent enough not to advise someone to drink this water if it would (even possibly) be insufficient for his vital medical (life and death) needs.


 Oct 09, 2008 at 02:03 PM Anonymous Says:

For those who drink with shirim on Yom Kippur because they must stay hydrated (and some of those people are not terribly sick but have conditions where dehydration could be potentially dangerous) Ezra Umarpeh in Israel provides free boxes of ready-measured shirim of water. BTW, the shiurim are 39 milititers, which is a real mouthful!


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