Halacha for Sunday 12 Cheshvan 5780 November 10 2019

Taking Tylenol, Advil, and Sleeping Pills on Shabbat and the Tenth of Tevet

Question: May one take Tylenol or sleeping pills on Shabbat? Also, may Tylenol be administered to an infant who is running a fever on Shabbat?

Answer: In the previous Halachot we have explained that an individual who is not truly ill (i.e. lying down in bed) may not take medication on Shabbat. We have likewise explained the reason behind this enactment.

Sleeping Pills
The Sefer Eshel Avraham (Chapter 327) writes that one may wash one’s head with an alcoholic beverage on Shabbat in order to be able to fall asleep easily. This is not similar to other forms of healing which are forbidden on Shabbat, for causing one to fall asleep is not considered healing.

Based on this, Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l writes (in his Shulchan Shlomo, Chapter 328) that one may take sleeping pills on Shabbat. Although other luminaries of our generation disagree, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules that one who requires sleeping pills in order to fall asleep may use them on Shabbat, for this is not considered healing an illness since the lack of sleep is not actually an illness and is only extremely uncomfortable. The edict of our Sages therefore does not apply here. He proceeds to list several other reasons for leniency in this case (see Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Part 3, page 367).

Pain Relievers and Fever Reducers
Regarding taking Tylenol and the like, we have already explained that if one is so ill that one must lie in bed as a result of his pain or discomfort, one may take medication as needed, for the enactment against “crushing herbs” which prohibits taking medicine on Shabbat does not apply to one who is truly ill. Thus, although one may not act leniently and take Tylenol to relieve the minor discomfort of a light headache and the like, if one is truly ill and suffers from fever and major aches and pains, one may take such medications in order to relieve the pain and reduce the fever (Chazon Ovadia-Shabbat, Volume 3, page 368).

The Law Regarding an Infant
There is room for leniency regarding an infant in any case, for we have written that one may administer any medication necessary to a child under nine years of age. This is especially true with regards to infants since an increase in body-temperature poses a danger to them and one must therefore quickly balance their body-temperature.

Summary: If necessary, one may take sleeping pills on Shabbat. If one suffers from a slight discomfort, such a small stomach ache and the like, one should not take medication to alleviate the pain. However, if one’s entire body is in pain, for instance, if one must lie down in bed as a result of his pain or illness, one may take any medication necessary. It is permissible to administer any medication necessary to an infant on Shabbat in any case.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Customary Order of Rosh Hashanah

It is customary to eat certain symbolic foods during the two nights of Rosh Hashanah which signify good fortune for the entire upcoming year. It is therefore customary to eat black-eyed peas, pumpkin, leek, spinach, dates, pomegranates, apples dipped in honey, and meat of a sheep’s head on the......

Read Halacha

The Blessings on Thunder and Lightning

One who sees lightning recites the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Oseh Ma’aseh Bereshit.” One who hears thunder recites the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam She’Kocho Ugvurato Maleh Olam.” Until When Can On......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Mentioning “Mashiv Ha’Ruach”

We Begin Reciting “Mashiv Ha’Ruach” “Mashiv Ha’Ruach U’Morid Ha’Geshem” is a praise we recite to Hashem during the winter months within the “Mechayeh Ha’Metim” blessing of the Amidah as is printed in all Siddurim. We begin recitin......

Read Halacha

Speaking Between Washing One’s Hands and the “Hamotzi” Blessing

Question: Is one permitted to speak between washing one’s hands and reciting the Hamotzi blessing? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (42a) states: “Immediately following hand-washing, one must recite the blessing.” The Rishonim disagree as to the explanation of this Gemara......

Read Halacha


Chol Ha’Mo’ed

The days between the first and seventh days (outside of Israel between the second and eighth days) of the Pesach holiday and the days between the first day of Sukkot and the holiday of Shemini Atzeret (outside of Israel between the second day of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret) are called “Chol Ha&......

Read Halacha

One Who Hears Thunder at Night

Question: If one hears thunder at night while sleeping, may one recite the blessing on thunder without washing his hands? Also, must one recite a blessing on lightning every time one sees it or is once a day sufficient? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have established that one who sees lightni......

Read Halacha

Question: Is speaking between washing one’s hands with Mayim Acharonim and Birkat Hamazon permissible?

Answer: We have already explained that one who eats a bread meal is obligated to wash his hands with a small amount of water before reciting Birkat Hamazon. We have also explained that women are likewise obligated to wash their hands with Mayim Acharonim based on the ruling of Maran Ha’Shulcha......

Read Halacha

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha