07. Laws of Eating for Those Who Must Eat

Children and dangerously sick people must recite berakhot before eating and drinking on Yom Kippur. If they eat or drink enough to require a berakha aḥarona, they recite that as well. Someone dangerously ill who is drinking le-shi’urim does not recite a berakha aḥarona, as he drinks less than a cheek-full each time, while a berakha aḥarona is recited only after drinking a revi’it (2.5 ounces or 75 milliliters), which is more than a cheek-full. (See Peninei Halakha: Berakhot 10:10.)

In terms of eating, even one who ate minimal quantities may have to recite a berakha aḥarona, because the shi’ur that obligates a berakha aḥarona is a kezayit, and someone eating le-shiurim on Yom Kippur may eat as much as the volume of a kotevet, which is larger than a kezayit (ibid. 10:5).

As we said above (section 5 and n. 6), it is preferable when possible for the dangerously ill to eat and drink le-shi’urim, but when that is difficult, they should eat and drink normally. For example, a postpartum woman who needs to sleep can eat and drink regularly to help her recovery. Diabetics who are praying with the community should eat and drink normally, so that they can attend synagogue without endangering themselves. Children who eat and drink on Yom Kippur should also do so normally.

People who are eating bread must first wash their hands (netilat yadayim). However, rather than washing to the wrists, they should wash only to the base of the fingers. They should wash each hand twice (Peninei Halakha: Berakhot 2:3, 2:11). One who intends to eat less than the volume of an egg (kebeitza) does not recite “al netilat yadayim.” If he intends to eat more than that, he recites the blessing (Peninei Halakha: Berakhot 2:6).

One who always washes mayim aḥaronim before Birkat Ha-mazon may do so on Yom Kippur as well. If one does not normally do so, he should not do so on Yom Kippur (9:5 below).

One who eats at least a kezayit of bread must recite Ya’aleh Ve-yavo during Birkat Ha-mazon and mention Yom Kippur. If he forgot to do so, he does not repeat it. If Yom Kippur is on Shabbat, he should also recite Retzei, but if he forgot, he does not repeat it.[9] One who is reciting Al Ha-miḥya should mention Yom Kippur. Needless to say, if he forgot to do so, he does not repeat it, since even on a normal Shabbat one who forgot to mention Shabbat in Al Ha-miḥya does not repeat it.

Some say that a dangerously ill person who is eating on Yom Kippur must make “Ha-motzi” over two loaves of bread (leḥem mishneh). Additionally, if it is Shabbat, he must make kiddush before eating. However, according to most poskim, one need not make kiddush or use leḥem mishneh on Yom Kippur, and the halakha follows them.[10]


[9]. According to most poskim, children and the dangerously ill, who eat on Yom Kippur, must recite Ya’aleh Ve-yavo. Since they may eat, and Yom Kippur is a mikra kodesh, this must be mentioned in Birkat Ha-mazon (Maharam; Rosh; Hagahot Maimoniyot; Tur; SA 618:10). However, according to others, Ya’aleh Ve-yavo should not be recited, as the mitzva to recite it applies only when there is a mitzva to eat (Shibolei Ha-leket citing R. Avigdor Katz; Taz ad loc. 10). In practice, Ya’aleh Ve-yavo should be recited, since this is the opinion of most poskim. It does not constitute an interruption, and it includes nothing that is incorrect. However, one who forgot to recite it does not repeat Birkat Ha-mazon, since according to those who maintain that Ya’aleh Ve-yavo is not recited on Yom Kippur, the repeated berakha would be in vain (le-vatala). MA (ad loc. 10) implies this, while Ḥayei Adam, Pri Megadim, and MB ad loc. 29 rule this way explicitly.

[10]. When Yom Kippur coincides with Shabbat, some maintain that a dangerously ill person must recite kiddush before eating (Hitorerut Teshuva 3:407; Hagahot R. Akiva Eger 618:2 inclines this way as well, following the approach that making kiddush where one eats is a Torah requirement). However, according to most poskim, the sick person does not make kiddush, as there is no mitzva to eat on Yom Kippur (SAH 618:18; Ḥayei Adam 145:32; Or Same’aḥ, Laws of the Yom Kippur Service 4:1; Responsa Har Tzvi OḤ 1:155; Igrot Moshe, ḤM 1:39; Yaskil Avdi 8:20; Mishnat Ya’avetz OḤ §59; SSK 39:33; Ḥazon Ovadia, p. 307). Knesset Ha-gedola (OḤ 618, Hagahot Tur 9) states that one must use leḥem mishneh. This is difficult to understand, though, as double portions of manna did not fall before Yom Kippur (since it was forbidden to eat then). One might respond that manna did fall to feed the sick and the children. Nevertheless, most poskim maintain that leḥem mishneh is not required, and this is the conclusion of MA 618:10 and SAH ad loc. 18.

  1. Akiva Eger writes in his responsa (§24) that it is permissible to give an aliya to someone dangerously ill who must eat, as the Torah reading is due to the holiness of the day, not to the fast. However, R. Akiva Eger is uncertain about doing this at Minḥa, as it is possible that its Torah reading was established because of the fast. One who ate le-shi’urim may get an aliya. (See Peninei Halakha: Zemanim 7:11 n. 15, where I write that at Minḥa on fast days, one should not give an aliya to someone who ate more than a shi’ur. However, if such a person was mistakenly called up, he may accept, relying upon Responsa Ḥatam Sofer OḤ §157. Ḥatam Sofer allows this because he feels that on a fast day, the Torah reading is because of the day, not because of the fast. The same ruling applies to someone called up on Minḥa of Yom Kippur.) A long-time ḥazan who has to eat le-shi’urim may continue as ḥazan (Ḥazon Ovadia, p. 351).

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The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
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The Laws of Women’s Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Pesach - Joshua Wertheimer
The Laws of Zemanim - Moshe Lichtman

Editor: Nechama Unterman