By September 13, 2018 Read More →

Halachot for pregnant & nursing women for Yom Kippur – Rav Yoni Rosensweig

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From Rav Yoni Rosensweig:

Since I have begun to receive questions regarding the upcoming Yom Kippur fast, here is a reminder of my position with regards to pregnant and nursing women on this Holy Day:

(1) There are different opinions regarding nursing and pregnant women fasting on Yom Kippur.

(2) The first step one should take is to obtain a medical opinion regarding her situation, in case there are special considerations in her specific case.

(2) My personal psak – in accordance with the opinion of my Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Nacum Rabinovitch – is to be stringent in areas of Pikuach Nefesh, and therefore lenient on the issue of fasting for all nursing women, and pregnant women from 20 weeks and on, and allow drinking “in shiurim”. This is so also for women in their 9th month.

(3) “In shiurim”, means: Before the fast fill your mouth up with water, spit it out into a cup, then halve that amount. What you now have is your “shiur”. During the fast you can drink a bit less than that amount every 9 minutes. If need be, one may reduce the interval up to 4 minutes. This should be sufficient for most people.

(4) Why? There are two different considerations here – the mother and the child. The lenient ruling is based mostly on the welfare of the child, so even if a mother says “I can handle it”, that’s not the issue. A baby is extremely vulnerable, and without his mother’s aid he is literally in a life-threatening situation. Additionally, regarding the mother, 20 weeks in there is danger of an early birth as a result of dehydration.

(5) Something I am always asked: With nursing women, we do not rely on milk-substitutes, and we see the mother as being the only source of sustenance for the baby – as it is the most reliable one from all perspectives. As mentioned, due to the baby’s extremely vulnerable state, he is considered “in danger”, and his source of food is a primary concern, so we can’t take any chances that the milk might run out.

(6) All this is when no additional signs of danger have presented themselves. If a woman is under 20 weeks pregnant but has begun to vomit, or feels extremely week due to migraines etc., she should, too, drink in shiurim (and if she feels like this is not enough to get her rehydrated, she may drink freely). If a woman is over 20 weeks pregnant, and has begun to feel contractions, or her water breaks, and certainly if bleeding has begun – she can break her fast with no limitation.

(7) Halachically, drinking water is preferable than drinking other liquids, but if there is a specific reason to use other liquids one need not refrain.

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