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Preventative Medicine On Shabbat

The Daily Halacha Moment - Preventative Medicine On Shabbat 💊

״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)

“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


Is preventative medicine allowed on Shabbat?


Medicine which is preventative and not curative in nature is permitted.

This is because the person taking it is not currently ill, and therefore, it cannot be defined as medicine.[1] Examples of this include:

a. Applying insect repellant or sunscreen.[2]

b. Vitamins.[3]

c. Taking antacids before eating to prevent heartburn.[4]

d. Applying a non-medicated adhesive bandage to protect a wound.[5]

e. Applying an ice pack to prevent or reduce swelling.[6]

f. Removing a splinter.[7]

g. Using deodorant or mouthwash.[8]

h. Swallowing a raw egg in order to sooth one’s vocal cords.[9]

i. Using an artificial sweetener for a person who cannot have sugar.[10]

Adapted From R' Nacsons "Laws Of Shabbat" vol. 2, p. 300-301.


[1]. The Bet Yosef, O.C. 328 states that the Sages’ enactment forbidding medication on Shabbat does not apply in a case where one is taking medication in order to strengthen his body. The prohibition was enacted only for those who require medication for some ailment, but not for those who are perfectly healthy. Therefore, it is entirely permissible to eat foods or drink beverages that are made especially for medicinal purposes, or to take pills and the like, if one is not sick and simply wishes to strengthen his body and maintain good health. By the same token, it is permissible on Shabbat to take medications that have no healing effect, yet regulate certain functions of the body.

[2] Shevut Yitzchak, vol. 17, p. 85 in the name of Rav Elyashiv; Ketzot HaShulchan 138:31.

[3]. Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 3, pp. 363-365; Halichot Olam, vol. 4, p. 207; Ohr LeTzion, vol. 2, 36:10; Tzitz Eliezer 14:50. See also Igrot Moshe, O.C. 3:54 who permits a perfectly healthy person to take vitamins in order to maintain optimal health. However, he does not allow one to take vitamins in order to treat a non-life-threatening deficiency. See also Minchat Shlomo, vol. 2, 34:36 and in Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchatah, ch. 34, footnote 86 who only allow vitamins that are taken as a food supplement.

[4]. See Shulchan Aruch 328:37, that is, provided that one is healthy and does not currently have heartburn. See also Refuat Yisrael, p. 19 and in 39 Melachos, Ribiat, p. 484.

[5]. Yalkut Yosef, Shabbat, vol. 4, p. 174.

[6]. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchatah 35:92; Shulchan Shlomo 328:37; Chut Shani, Shabbat, vol. 4, p. 224; Be’er Moshe, vol. 1, 33:18. Even though this is curative, it is not defined as healing because it is never done with medicine. See also Igrot Moshe, O.C. 3:50 who permits one to use a heating pillow or other heat pack as well.

[7]. One should try to remove the splinter in a manner which no blood will be drawn.

[8]. Yalkut Yosef, Shabbat, vol. 4, p. 167; Yabia Omer, vol. 4, 28:16; see also Chut Shani, Shabbat,

vol. 4, p. 219.

[9]. Shulchan Aruch 328:38; Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 3, p. 363; Halichot Olam, vol. 4, p. 205.

[10]. See in Shevet HaLevi, vol. 9, 170:2.

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