Torah Tidbits

30 July 2014 / 3 Av 5774
Issue 1039
Shabbat Parshat Tzav-Hagadol-Shmini
March 21, 2013

"From Machon Puah"

Medication on Pesach

As we enter Pesach and are concerned with removing every piece of chametz from our homes, the question arises as to whether one can use medication during Pesach. There are various relevant halachic principles connected to this question.
The first halachic principle is that any chametz that is already inedible before Pesach is not considered chametz and can be used on Pesach. Some opinions are that it can be eaten as well since it is not considered to be food. However the Rosh is of the opinion that, while this inedible substance can be used since generally it is not considered to be food, if one does eat it then he proves that for him it is food and therefore he cannot eat it on Pesach.
Another discussion is regarding the principle that using oil or ointment on one’s skin is considered like eating, therefore it is forbidden for one to smear oil from t’rumah on their body as this is considered as though he ate it, which is forbidden. The same is true in relation to Yom Kippur and therefore not only are we forbidden to eat but we are forbidden from spreading oil on our bodies. However according to many opinions this rule only holds for these two cases; t’rumah and Yom Kippur, and does not apply to other prohibited types of food. Therefore one is permitted to use any oils or lotions on Pesach even if they are chametz on the condition that they are inedible.
Regarding the use of flavorless or bitter tablets that are ingested, the Chazon Ish is of the opinion that even if they contain flour it is permitted since one does not have the intention of eating the flour but only the active ingredient contained within the tablet. Therefore this is not considered as though he intended to eat the inedible chametz and is permitted.
However in the case of flavored syrups or tablets one does have the benefit of the taste and therefore such medication would need to be kosher for Pesach.
It should be noted that many common medicines are kosher for Pesach and therefore can be taken. There are lists on the Internet of all the medications that are not problematic on Pesach.
In addition if one needs to take medication for a life-threatening disease and there is no alternative then it can be permitted even if the medication is chametz.
What we have written here should not be seen as a halachic decision rather as an introduction to the question of medication on Pesach. In each specific question a Rabbi should be consulted.

Pesach Kasher v’Same’ach. - Rabbi Gideon Weitzman

The Puah Institute is based in Jerusalem and helps couples from all over the world who are experiencing fertility problems. Puah offers free counseling in five languages, halachic supervision, and educational programs. Offices in Jerusalem, New York, Los Angeles and Paris. Contact: (02) 651-5050 (Isr). http://www.puahonline.org

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