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From the desk of Dayan Dr. Pinchas Toledano

1. Boys and girls younger than nine years of age should not be allowed to fast. However, if they are nine or over they should be encouraged to fast for a few hours only, i.e., if they are used to eating breakfast at 7:00 am, they should eat at 10:00 am depending of course on their physical strength.

2. If they are eleven or over and they are able to fast the whole day, they should do so. If not, they should fast as long as they are able.

3. Boys over the age of thirteen and girls over the age of twelve must fast.

4. Because of the overriding importance of preserving life, observance of both the Sabbath and the Day of Atonement gives way to the exigencies of grave sickness or similar emergency. When the setting aside of the normal prohibitions is considered requisite by Rabbis, it is best undertaken by themselves, and not delegated to juniors. Even though the chances of saving a person's life may be remote, and however brief the possible extension of life that disregard of prohibitions might achieve, such disregard is not merely permissible, but is indeed mandatory.

5. In cases of conflict of opinion between patient and doctor regarding the fitness of the patient to fast, if the patient feels unable to do so, his opinion overrides that of the doctor.

6. If the patient insists on his ability to fast and the doctor considers that the fast might endanger his life, we should pay attention to the doctor (being a Jew or non-Jew) and feed the patient. In these circumstances, there is absolutely no obligation to fast, but, on the contrary, the patient is to be considered as promoting his suicide. However, in cases of this nature, it is preferable to consult a religious Jewish doctor who appreciates the importance of Yom Kippur.

7. If two doctors are in conflict as to whether the sick man should eat or not, but the patient himself says nothing, we should listen to the doctor who believes he should be fed. If, however the patient himself sides with the doctor who believes he should not be fed, then we should not feed him.

8. Pregnant women and nursing mothers must fast, but a nursing mother who feels that fasting might jeopardise her child's life should not fast. Similarly, if a woman has complications with her pregnancy and the doctor advises against the fast, she should follow his advice.

9. In the case of a pregnant woman who, having smelled food, craves to eat, if it is clear that if she does not eat her own life and that of her child will be in danger, one should impress upon her the importance of the day in the hope that she will calm down. If that is of no avail, we should feed her little by little until she has recovered.

10. According to our Sages, a woman is considered to be in danger from the time she is in labour until 72 hours after giving birth and during that period she should not fast. However, if she and her doctor believe that she can fast she should do so. However, the opinion of the Rishon Lizion Rabbi Obadiah Yosef is that even when her doctor agrees with her she should not fast. After the first 72 hours, if she says that she still feels unable to fast, she is to be believed even though the doctor disagrees. But if seven days have elapsed since she gave birth, she should fast.

11. The above law applies whether the woman has given birth to a live child or a stillborn child or even if she has suffered a miscarriage more than forty days after conception.

12. According to our Sages, one who on Yom Kippur eats food the size of "Kekotebet" (lit. a large date) which is somewhat less than the size of an egg, is subject to the punishment of excision, (i.e., punishment at heaven's discretion). In consequence, someone who has to eat (i.e., a seriously sick person, or a woman who has given birth) may eat food weighing no more than 30 grams, and should then wait about nine minutes or even four minutes before partaking of more food. If the doctor believes that he should not wait as time is of the essence, the patient should eat as much as necessary without delay.

13. One who is permitted to eat should not recite the Kiddush even if Yom Kippur falls on the Sabbath. If one eats bread in small quantities at regular intervals as explained above, one should wash one's hands without reciting the usual benediction "Al Netilat Yadayim." This is because this blessing should not be said unless one intends to eat 58 grams of bread or more. Consequently, in the event that one needs to eat in the normal manner, one must wash one's hands with a blessing. In any event one should recite the usual blessing over the bread.

In the Grace after meals one should insert the prayer "Ya ale Veyabo" as Yom Kippur is considered a solemn season.



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