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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Make Kiddush, Wash, and Eat a Yom Tov Meal

A story hit the New York Times "Yom Kippur Made Easier with Help of IV" which I quite frankly could not believe until I visited Imamother where posters were relating their experiences!  Others saying "are you kidding?" as goes against basically everything they've learned regarding the halachic process.  VIN News also posted a highly abbreviated version of the story, leaving off any actually discussion of the subject at hand including a statement from the OU's Rabbi Genack.

Sadly, the story is to be believed and is another dangerous chapter in going beyond halacha in order to "feel good" psychologically.  When Ashkenazim need to eat on Yom Kippur, they drink/eat a prescribed amount every so many (prescribed) minutes.  When Sephardim need to eat on Yom Kippur, they make kiddush, wash netilat yadaim in the proper form, and eat a yom tov meal inserting be yom kippurim ha zeh at yaaleh v'yavo.  I had to confirm what I had learned on the subject and Rabbi Mansour did not confirm regarding making kiddush in his daily halacha post regarding those who must eat on Yom Kippur, but confirmed regarding eating.  Our eating children have always made a kiddush for themselves before eating on Yom Kippur.

Others might not consider this story a big deal, but I most certainly do.  Our obligations in life are not determined by our emotions.  Sometimes our obligations in life change and we need to deal with that.  And yet here emotions are dictating a practice unheard of in previous decades.  Even the organizer of the beds in Bobov says as much:  
Some 200 people took advantage of [the] service last year.. . . . said he consulted with three “big rabbis” who certified his program as halachically permissible. He is careful to point out that this practice is not a religious loophole. “Everyone is a difficult case. It’s not a loophole. It’s not considered eating if it goes through a vein,” he said. “You’re not supposed to take anything though the mouth or stomach. Anything. Even if you’re allowed to, nobody wants to eat. It’s very hard for a person who has always fasted to face the reality of a situation where they have to eat,” he continued. “This way they still feel they fasted and halachically, they didn’t eat. The mouth is still dry.”
How much communal energy and goodwill is being used up over absurdity? 

I remember once a man collapsed in the synagogue on Shabbat and the Rabbi insisted that he, not someone else, run to the phone line to make that call.  As he explained later, he wanted all to understand that an obligation is an obligation. 


37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Source article: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/nyregion/ailing-yom-kippur-fasters-are-helped-by-iv-drips.html

Anonymous said...

Ortho - I usually agree with your posts. In this case, I could not disagree more. Because we are a religoin based on laws and not emotion is why this method would be optimal. We have resources and opportunities that prior generations did not which allow us to handle things in an optimal manner

abba's rantings said...

where does r. mansour mention kiddush?

Anonymous said...

I think people need to read through the Haftara again and remember that what god wants isn't for us to just fast. the fast is a means, not a goal...

Orthonomics said...

Please elaborate, please. Last I checked, while an IV is a great way to get fluid throughout the body, it still carries a risk of infection and having the thing in your hand is none too pleasant as I recall and leaves bruising for days and a bit of pain also remains.

I don't see how it is optimal to take paramedics away from their other duties to man a room so people who are used to fasting but should no longer be fasting can have open access to IVs.

And I can't imagine what type of shul would want the liability of running this type of room. . . . but then again your local OU or YI shul think liability quicker than the Bobov shul. Nonetheless, there is real liability here.

Regarding optimal in today's day and age, the same crowd instituting these rooms aren't exactly quick to embrace other modern technologies or research, so why this?

Orthonomics said...

abba--too many edits, he confirms eating not kiddush. We learned you make kiddush because that is an obligation for men and women before eating on yom tov/Shabbat and once you need to eat, you treat as a yom tov in this regard.

Anonymous said...

Ortho - The individuals behind this are attempting to enable others to perform their avodas hashem in an optimal fashion. The people coming to them are in a predicament where they are forced to break their fast and do not want to do so despite the allowance. Their piety is driving them for an alternative solution that (my understanding) is no more of a health hazard than eating. If additional health hazards are being created or critical resources are being rationed from others, I concede to your point, but that does not appear to be the case and I'm guessing your suggestion otherwise is partly driven by your desire to defend your initial position. I think we need to be more cautious before whimsically writing off other peoples religous sensitivities, particularly the day after yom kippur

GilaB said...

My thought when I read this article was, 'chasid shoteh!' If you are not well enough to fast, you have a chiyuv to eat.

Dave said...

Growing up, I was taught that if you have a medical need to eat, it is as bad if you fast as if you eat without such a need.

tesyaa said...

This article really bothered me, but a comment on the Imamother link (thanks SL) explained it in a way that actually makes some sense:

...the reason some Rabbonim are saying to do IV
maybe it's because they don't trust everyone that has to, to eat if they tell them to eat on yom kippur


In other words, people have such a psychological taboo against eating on YK that even if their rabbi tells them to eat, they still can't bring themselves to do so.

An acquaintance tells me that years ago she was a nurse working in Hadassah hospital and her assignment on YK was to go to all the patients who were supposed to be eating and make sure they did so.

tesyaa said...

I'm not saying it's correct halachicly to fast when you shouldn't (it's not), but humans have all sorts of self-destructive quirks; this one apparently isn't any different.

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

"My thought when I read this article was, 'chasid shoteh!' If you are not well enough to fast, you have a chiyuv to eat."

This. In fact, they are probably doing an avairah by not eating when they are supposed to do so, just as much as the family who refuses to call Hatzola on Shabbos for a life threatening illness.

Dave said...

More evidence for the position that "frum" is a social convention that mostly aligns with Halacha, but if it doesn't, Halacha loses.

Anonymous said...

Dave - true. Deal with it and move on...

Dave said...

Well, if you've made the decision that you aren't going to follow Halacha, I have to say, eating is more fun than fasting.

Anonymous said...

Dave - OJ life is full of pluses & minuses - sometimes you have to accept the minuses to get the pluses... it's a matter of taste.

Orthonomics said...

Ortho - The individuals behind this are attempting to enable others to perform their avodas hashem in an optimal fashion. The people coming to them are in a predicament where they are forced to break their fast and do not want to do so despite the allowance. Their piety is driving them for an alternative solution that (my understanding) is no more of a health hazard than eating.

Eating is the normal derech. Inserting needles is not (let's hope we keep it that way).
If people won't eat, you demonstrate the derech and sometimes you just have to force them.

If additional health hazards are being created or critical resources are being rationed from others, I concede to your point, but that does not appear to be the case and I'm guessing your suggestion otherwise is partly driven by your desire to defend your initial position.

There are always limited resources. Was someone else hurt in the process? I have no idea and we will probably never know. I'm not typing to aggressively defend.

off other peoples religous sensitivities, particularly the day after yom kippur

There is halacha and mesorah and I simply don't see setting up IV centers in shuls so people don't have to follow what has been accepted as the halacha until whenever someone introduced this. I imagine I won't like being told I need to eat someday, much less sit for a yom tov meal.

thegameiam said...

I might have a different perspective than others here.

I have a severe case of Lyme disease (along with a few other infectious friends - if you want details, look at my blog). I am currently receiving IV antibiotic therapy daily, and was going to have to infuse my antibiotic on YK no matter what.

My doctor told me that it was not safe for me to fast on tisha b'av, so I was only allowed to go until hatzot. I ate and drank, and it just killed me - I felt like I was on the outside looking in, and this was compounded by oodles of (probably well meaning) people saying things like "lucky you!" - no, not lucky, not fasting means you're really sick, and even worse, you don't have the comfort of community.

So I went to the other one of my doctors during Elul - this was around the time my IV therapy started - and this doctor is a religious Muslim (fasted on Ramadan during her seventh pregnancy, so she gets the importance). I asked her whether it would be safe for me to fast and she said no. I told her about how it was so unpleasant before, and she thought, and said that because I already have a PICC line (long term IV catheter port in my tricep), she could prescribe a few litres of saline, and that would make it safe for me. I checked with my rabbi, and gave me a psak that this was okay, and was preferable to eating and drinking.

So, I was getting an IV during the break, but I wasn't giving myself a wound or the like, and I would rather not have done any of this weirdness - I'd rather have been more well, and just fasted. But all in all, I'm grateful that my doctor and rabbi were able to come up with a solution for me.

So please understand - I follow the law: if the ruling had been that I should have eaten, I would have done it, even though it would have broken my heart. I'm glad it wasn't. When looking at the other people in those cases, their situations are different from mine, but judge them gently: they are in a hard place, and we should hope for them that next year they are strong enough to complete the fast with no help, in the rebuilt Jerusalem.

JS said...

This is just bizarre. When a loophole is found it is fully exploited it would seem.

A friend's wife was nursing last year during YK and her doctor advised against fasting while nursing. She consulted her rabbi who said she should fast anyways, but gave her a very specific regemin of exactly how much to eat and drink and how often. She didn't go to shul and davened at home with her infant.

Anyways, my friend comes home during the break and finds his wife nearly passed out on the floor with their child nearby crying - she was took weak to care for him.

Thankfully, in my opinion, this year she decided to just eat and drink in amounts that made sense for her and didn't leave her debilitated (she's pregnant).

I'm sure others would disapprove, but I can't see why. The alternatives seem to be passing out and endangering a child, going into early labor, or getting an IV drip.

The decision as to which loopholes to big enough to drive a truck through and which to shrink to next to nothing make no sense to me.

kweansmom said...

Anonymous, 12:03, an IV definitely poses more health hazards than eating. Infection being the most prominent, but there are other hazards as well. See wikipedia for the list of all the possible adverse effects of IV therapy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intravenous_therapy#Adverse_effects

Nephew of Frum Actuary said...

thegameiam:

The Halacha is different if you already have a PICC line. That is why it is critical to ask your Rav (which you did) and give him all relevant details. This year Tisha B'Av was a Nidche, which means that there was no reason for you (as a Chol'e) to fast. Yom Kippur is much more Chamur than Tisha B'av.

May Hashem grant you a Refuah Shelaima B'Karov.

tesyaa said...

If it comes down to the emotion of feeling like one is not part of things by not fasting, where does it end? Should mothers of 6 day old infants feel bad because they are allowed to eat? Is it going to come to a point where they will all demand IV lines? Will an IV on YK be the new "signal" that one is "frum enough"?

thegameiam said...

NoFA, amen.

While I understand the halakhic reasoning about not fasting, and of course comply (because I submit my will to halakhah), but I think you miss how much it hurts to not fast in that case:

consider: if you're really sick, you've had your life shrunken, and you've had to give up a lot of activities which are important to you, had to miss things you want to do, and it feels like your world gets a lot smaller.

One of the refuges for the sick is in prayer - and specifically in communal prayer. At least in shul you can feel mostly "normal." So there, telling someone that they can't have that communal experience either is really tough. Maybe it's the right answer, but please don't discount how difficult, wrenching, or painful that is.

SubWife said...

I agree that people who clearly need to eat should eat. Period. However, I feel that maybe IV would be a good option for those borderline cases. For example, I fast ok, but afterwards sometimes (not every fast) feel sick for several days. The same could be said about pregnant women who have a high chance of feeling bad during or after the fast. If it is halachically permissible to alleviate sever discomfort, why not? I don't know, I wouldn't knock it in all cases. I would become concerned though if it became a norm.

Mr. Cohen said...

I must thank HASHEM, because I prayed to Him for a very easy fast on Yom Kippur, and He granted my request.

THANK YOU HASHEM!!!!

Over the past 25+ years, whenever I prayed in advance for an fast on Yom Kippur, my request was always granted [except for one time when my prayers in this area were definitely substandard].

Also, whenever I did not I pray in advance for an fast on Yom Kippur, I always had a hard time with the fast.

Mr. Cohen said...

CORRECTION:

Also, whenever I did not I pray in advance for an east fast on Yom Kippur, I always had a hard time with the fast.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Cohen's latest comments have no relevance to the post about cholim and fasting on YK. He's also posted nearly the exact same comments on shidduch blogs and other blogs that tolerate him. I'd like to ask him why he feels it's necessary to thank Hashem in blog comments rather than in private prayer. Does Hashem read blogs? And if He does, is that the best way to communicate with Him?

Anonymous said...

So as the original "anonymous" who disagreed with Ortho, it sounds like there is somewhat of a consensus that for SOME people an IV may make sense in which case this program is a chessed. Perhaps it's not appropriate for people in life threatening situations where there is any doubt about whther the IV will cause risks but for other it enables them to fulfill the fast in an optimal manner and therefore provides a service of sorts to the community. Will you submit to that?

tesyaa said...

I will accept that an IV makes sense in the case of people who psychologically cannot bring themselves to observe the halacha of eating on YK when necessary. That doesn't mean that not eating is correct or optimal, merely that these people have an additional "illness" that makes it impossible for them to eat - even when the halacha requires it.

kweansmom said...

Original anonymous, I wouldn't agree to that consensus. Either you're allowed to eat or you're not. I understand some unnamed rabbonim have allowed or preferred the IV, but I simply don't understand it from a halachic standpoint. I have to assume that they may not understand the medical issues thoroughly. And I disagree with the word "optimal" for a medically and halachically problematic solution. I can only see an argument for it when a person has an IV for Yom Kippur anyway and isn't supposed to fast.

Dina said...

"I remember once a man collapsed in the synagogue on Shabbat and the Rabbi insisted that he, not someone else, run to the phone line to make that call. As he explained later, he wanted all to understand that an obligation is an obligation."

That is the halacha in Shulchan Aruch - Pikuach Nefesh overrides Shabbos. The "Gadol Sheba'ir" is supposed to go first to violate Shabbos as a demonstration that this is the halacha.

The nursing mother who passed out on the couch - unless she is a true exception in terms of physical strength, that shouldn't have happened with shiurim. If she was drinking a nutrient-rich drink, slightly less than an ounce at a time, every 4-7 minutes, it is unlikely that she would have been that weak and depleted. Chances are she didn't want to eat (or was nursing and didn't have food/drink immediately available), so she pushed herself past the point of no return.

My husband has rehydrated himself (not on Yom Kippur) with 4 oz every 15 minutes.

(I exclusively nursed 3-month old twins on Yom Kippur while fasting. I laid down the whole day, and did nothing but nurse and rest.)

Orthonomics said...

Hard for me to reach a consensus when a solution that might be appropriate for some (e.g. those who already have an IV) is being rolled out in a public way.

Scraps said...

Two points:

1) As is noted in the original NYT article, Rav Moshe Feinstein gave psak that it is preferable to eat than to have an IV specially inserted. Granted, the chassidim may not hold by him, but he WAS a gadol hador, and I would think that ought to hold some weight. Obviously this would not be the case with someone who has a PICC line.

2) As I understand it, if one is too sick to fast, it's not a matter of being "allowed" to eat - a person who has been told they need to eat for their health MUST eat. I recall a story Rav Leff told about a former congregant of his from when he was a rav in Florida: The man was very ill and Rav Leff told him he must eat on Yom Kippur due to his ill health. The man informed Rav Leff that he refused to eat on Yom Kippur even though the rav told him he must. So Rav Leff responded that if that was the case, the man was no longer welcome in his shul - clearly he was no longer worshiped Hashem, because now he worships Yom Kippur. (Perhaps a little severe, but it was to make a point.)

I'm not trying to minimize the psychological difficulty of eating when the community is fasting. I know it's incredibly hard. But since when is serving Hashem only supposed to be easy? On Yom KIppur, the mitzvah is "v'initem et nafshoteichem" - to "inflict your souls". Maybe in some cases, the inflicting of the soul may take the form of having to eat even when one would rather be fasting.

nuqotw said...

I have an acquaintance who works in a Boro pPark emergency room. She says that people can and will make themselves even lethally dehydrated; if a person will do that, you might as well protect them from themselves, even if it means an IV. And she points out, quite reasonably, that if a person will fast in the face of that risk, providing the IV that protects them is probably pikuach nefesh in and of itself.

Anonymous said...

The story goes the rich miser in town fell faint on YK and asked for water. The Rabbi said give him as much as he wants at 100 dollar a time. He didnt need more than a drop.

Mr. Cohen said...

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hagar of Vizhnitz:
“Each tries to outdo his neighbor in making lavish weddings for his children and then trying to figure out how to cover the expenses.”

MICROBIOGRAPHY: Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hagar was in 1830 in Kosiv (Ukraine). His Torah was published under the title Tzemach Tzaddik. He died 1884 October 18.

SOURCE: Torah Tavlin, 2012 October 13, Parshat Bereishit

Anonymous said...

Ein Chodosh Tachas HaShemesh.