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The Shabbos Weekly
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Based on the Shiurim Given by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita

developed from the Chabura of the
Pirchei Shoshanim Shulchan Aruch Learning Project

These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita


Questions for the Week of Parshas Mikeitz

In what instances may a person ingest tablets on Shabbos?

In the previous shiur we established that the halacha is in accordance with the opinion that holds that an ill person may only violate an issur drabanan (a rabbinical prohibition) bshinui (in a backhanded manner) and it may be violated in a regular manner when a limb is endangered. [1]

Is it correct that even if the halacha was to permit the taking of tablets or pills on Shabbos, is it necessary to be taken bshinui?

Not necessarily. The Mishna Berura [2] was also bothered by this and said that a shinui is required when doing something that is similar to a melacha. However taking tablets and syrups is not at all similar to a melacha and a shinui is not required. In other words therefore, when tablets and syrups can be ingested on Shabbos, they may be taken without a shiunui.

The Chayei Adam writes [3] that when something cannot be done bshinui and it cannot be done with the aid of a gentile, one may do it in the regular manner. This would apply to the consumption of tablets as well.

But when is this basic heter of taking tablets applicable?

Anyone who is defined as an ill person, i.e. is bedridden or who has an ache that effects his entire body may take tablets to treat that particular condition.

What if someone is not bedridden but must take antibiotics or other medication?

We find various opinions from the poskim, as follows. One opinion holds that when a person is not considered an ill person (see definition above) one may only consume tablets when they must be taken for longer than 7 days, i.e. they must be taken on Shabbos, or if not taking them on Shabbos might cause harm and one has been taking them before the onset of Shabbos. [4]

Another opinion is that unless a person will become ill one may not take medication on Shabbos. [5]

Another opinion is that whenever medication was begun before Shabbos one may continue with it on Shabbos. [6]

Apparently it appears that the last opinion is the accepted custom today.

Is there such a thing as dissolving a tablet into water before Shabbos, which would permit its ingestion on Shabbos?

Indeed there is, but we will begin at the source. The Shulchan Aruch [7] says the following: One may soak kilorin before Shabbos and place it on ones eye on Shabbos because it appears as if one is washing. This is provided that one does not open and close the eye. We are not concerned on account of grinding herbs as one must soak it before Shabbos, and that acts as a reminder. We see that by soaking the kilorin before Shabbos one may administer it on Shabbos.

Does that mean that if one knows that one will have a headache on Shabbos (which will not permit taking a pain killer when not defined as ill) that one may dissolve a pain killer in water before Shabbos and drink the liquid on Shabbos?

We find a machlokes in the matter.

Rav Mosher Feinstein ztzl [8] explains the heter of kilorin as such that since it must be soaked before use, by soaking it before Shabbos one has begun to administer the medication before Shabbos and one may continue on Shabbos. In other words, it is not because one has performed a shinui to the medicine. As such it will not help to dissolve a pain killer in water before Shabbos and drink it on Shabbos because there must be a shinui in the normal procedure of taking the medication and dissolving is not a part of the normal procedure.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztzl understands [9] that it is sufficient to implement a shinui in such a way that it is not noticeable to others that one is taking medication and the shinui was done before Shabbos. Accordingly, one may mix drops or dissolve a tablet in water before Shabbos and drink the water on Shabbos.

According to Rav Shlomo Zalman, even one who is not ill may dissolve a tablet in water before Shabbos and drink the water on Shabbos.

Rav Sternbuch shlita says that those who rely on this heter may only do so under special circumstances.

[1] Simon 328:17, the 3rd opinion in the Mechaber.

[2] Simon 328:121. See the SSK 33:4 and footnote 25*.

[3] Chayei Adam klal 69:12.

[4] Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in the SSK 34 footnote 76 with the supplements of the 3rd volume.

[5] Iggros Moshe vol. III simon 53. It appears from R Moshe that even if one will not be able to cure ones illness one may not administer this medication unless one will have a nervous breakdown from knowing that ones illness is otherwise incurable.

[6] Minchas Shabbos simon 91:9 and the Imrei Yosher in the name of the Chazon Ish.

[7] Simon 328:21.

[8] " " ' ".

[9] SSK 34:5 and footnotes 23-27.


Food For Thought

What is the halacha with regards to taking vitamins on Shabbos?

What about the use of creams and lotions on rashes etc?

May a doctor turn on his otoscope on Shabbos?

What about taking sleeping tablets on Shabbos?

Answers coming next week.

Vort for Chanukah

We recite in the Al HaNissim the phrase 'temaim b'yad tehorim'  (defiled in the hands of the pure), which seems to be out of context, being that it has nothing to do with might and force.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztzl explains that the Greeks were very knowledgeable and their war against Israel was an ideological one - their mundane wisdom against our holy Torah. One of the core differences between the two is that while in Greek philosophy a wise person does not have to practice what he preaches as it is merely a philosophical concept, the Torah is the Book Of Life and the Torah requires us not only to be wise but to live accordingly as well.

As a result of this thinking the Greeks purposely defiled the pure oil in the Beis HaMikdash upon entering it. For this very reason the Jews lit the pure Menorah oil, which represents the Torah, to show that our Torah is eternal and as a result of this ideology we won the battle.

Accordingly, the phrase 'temaim b'yad tehorim'  is the center piece of Al HaNissim, because it is our faith against theirs.

For a printed version, click here.


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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.