Halacha for Tuesday 4 Tishrei 5781 September 22 2020

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 medical condition does not allow him to fast may not be stringent and fast, for our holy Torah writes, “That he shall live by them,” and not that he should die by them. One may not cause himself to die or even place himself in a possibly dangerous situation because of the fast of Yom Kippur. When Maran zt”l served as Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and for several years after this as well, he would spend the precious hours of every Erev Yom Kippur by travelling to the hospital in order to convince patients whom the fast of Yom Kippur posed a danger to not to fast. He would quote the words of the Radbaz who writes that one who does not listen to doctors claiming that he places his complete trust in Hashem is a pious fool, for the Torah gives doctors permission to heal and by default, one must follow the rules of medicine after consulting with a prominent halachic authority.

One Suffering from an Illness which in Essence does not Pose any Danger
We should point out that even if one suffers from an ailment which in essence is not necessarily life-threatening, nevertheless, sometimes the medications one takes make it necessary for one to drink, and if one does not, this may pose a danger to him. In such a situation, the patient should consult his doctor and a prominent halachic authority to discern the proper course of action. This situation is common in patients taking medications for mental illnesses; indeed, sometimes, some of these illnesses can be considered life-threatening in and of themselves.

One who Must Eat on Yom Kippur
If one must eat on Yom Kippur due to an illness, if he must eat and drink in a regular manner, he may do so, as the is nothing that stands in the way of a life-threatening situation. Nevertheless, usually this is not the case and one can make do with eating or drinking in a way that he does not consume large amount of food or beverage in one shot. Rather, one should take breaks between eating and every time he eats or drinks, he should consume no more than thirty grams of food or forty grams of beverage. After approximately ten minutes have elapsed, he should eat or drink a similar amount. One should prepare organized and measured portions of food of approximately thirty grams before Yom Kippur. One should prepare himself a utensil that holds approximately forty grams of liquid (such as a baby bottle, shot glass, and the like) and every time one needs to, one should fill it up and drink from it.

Washing and Immersing One’s Self on Yom Kippur
One may not wash himself with water on Yom Kippur. Even to place one’s finger into water is prohibited. Nevertheless, only a pleasurable washing is prohibited; however, if one’s hands or any other body part were soiled from mortar and the like, one may wash them, as this does not constitute a pleasurable washing. Immersing one’s self in a Mikveh is also forbidden on Yom Kippur.

On the morning of Yom Kippur, one should wash his hands only until his knuckles. One should wash each hand three times while switching off hands and recite the “Al Netilat Yadayim” blessing, as he would any other day of the year.

One should not wash his face on the morning of Yom Kippur; if one’s face is dirty due to eye residue and the like, one may wash the dirty place. If one is finicky and cannot relax until he has washed his face in the morning, he may do so on the morning of Yom Kippur. Ashkenazim are stringent regarding this matter and rule that even one who is finicky cannot wash his face; rather, one may only wash off the dirt around one’s eyes and the like. 

One may not brush one’s teeth on Yom Kippur. Even one who acts leniently and bushes one’s teeth carefully on Tisha Be’av may not do so on Yom Kippur at all.

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

Some Details Regarding the Prayers of the Days of Awe

Anyone who appreciates the loftiness of the Days of Awe customarily tries to recite all prayers of these days with much precision and care. There are many Machzorim on the market containing several versions for various texts, some which can be relied upon and others which cannot be relied upon at al......

Read Halacha

Lighting Candles on Rosh Hashanah and the Issue this Year

The Laws of Candle-Lighting on Rosh Hashanah On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we customarily light Yom Tov candles before the onset of Yom Tov similar to the way we light them on Erev Shabbat. If the candles were not lit before the onset of Yom Tov, a woman may even light the candles on Yom Tov i......

Read Halacha

Should One Cry on Rosh Hashanah?

Question: What is the proper way to behave during the prayers of Rosh Hashanah: Should one arouse himself to cry during the prayers in order for Hashem to pity us and grant us all of our requests or should one pray amid great joy? Answer: The Mitzvah to be Glad on Rosh Hashanah The Poskim deli......

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

Preparing for the Day of Judgment

During the days preceding Rosh Hashanah, every single member of the Jewish nation must contemplate his/her actions and perform some sort of self-introspection in order to ascertain how one can improve one’s actions and Mitzvah observance so as to guarantee one’s self powerful defenders o......

Read Halacha

Motza’ei Yom Kippur

Adding From the Mundane Onto the Holiness One must add some of the mundane weekday onto the holiness of Yom Kippur upon its exit, i.e. one should not end this holy day immediately with nightfall; rather, one should wait another few minutes. Thus, it is prohibited to eat or perform work on Motza&rsq......

Read Halacha

Repenting for Speaking Lashon Hara and Rendering a Mistaken Halachic Ruling

Question: If I have spoken Lashon Hara (evil slander) about my friend, must I confront him and tell him what I have done in order to request his forgiveness? Also, what is the law regarding a rabbi who has ruled stringently on a matter when, in fact, there is actually room for leniency, must he ask ......

Read Halacha