Healing on Shaboss


Note: Our discussion is limited to adults who are in non-life threatening situations. When in doubt whether or not a situation is life-threatening, consult a rav and/or a doctor.

  • abscess – may be squeezed to relieve pressure from pus, even if some blood is secreted in the process(17).
  • allergies (mild) – medication may not be taken. 
  • angina – all medications are permitted.
  • asthma – all oral and/or breathing medications may be taken(18).
  • athlete’s foot – all medications are prohibited.
  • back or neck brace – may be put on or removed(19).
  • bedridden(20) due to pain – all oral medications may be taken.
  • bee sting – the stinger may be removed and the area may be washed with ice water, lemon juice or vinegar, etc. The area may not be soaked, however, in those liquids(21).
  • bleeding (slow) – pressure may be applied to a cut to stop bleeding. Sucking or squeezing out blood is prohibited(22).
  • broken bone – a non-Jew may be asked to do anything necessary, e.g., make a phone call, drive a car, take x-rays or put on a cast. [If a non-Jew is not available, some poskim permit a Jew to do these actions if they are done with a shinui, in an abnormal manner(23).]
  • cold (running nose) – medication may not be taken.
  • cough – medication may not be taken. If the cough may be an indication of pneumonia or asthma, medication is permitted.
  • cuts and abrasions (minor wounds) – may be washed or soaked in water. Hydrogen peroxide may be poured over a cut. It is not permitted, however, to soak absorbent cotton or paper in such a solution and then wash the wound with it. The wound may be covered with a non-medicated band-aid(24).
  • diabetes – all oral medications may be taken.
  • dried (or cracked) lips – it is prohibited to apply chapstick or any other medication, liquid or otherwise.
  • dried (or chapped) hands – It is prohibited to rub them with either oil, ointment (Vaseline) or lotion. One who regularly uses a pourable, liquid lotion or oil on his hands (whether they are chapped or not) may do so on Shabbos, too, even if his hands are chapped(25).
  • ear infection – all medications are permitted. Cotton balls may be inserted(26). Even if the infection is no longer present, the prescription begun during the week must be continued until finished in order to avoid a relapse.
  • eye inflammation – eye drops (or ointment) may be instilled in the eye. If the eye is not inflamed but merely irritated, no medication is permitted(27).
  • fever – all oral medications may be taken. A conventional thermometer may be used(28). If a person is suffering from high-grade fever, a non-Jew may be asked to do whatever the patient needs in order to feel better(29). If the cause of the fever is unknown, a doctor should be consulted.
  • headache – medication may not be taken. If the headache is severe enough so that one feels weak all over or is forced to go to bed, medication may be taken. One who is unsure if he has reached that stage of illness may be lenient and take pain relieving medication(30).
  • heartburn – Foods which will have a soothing effect may be eaten. Some poskim permit taking anti-acid medication while others are more hesitant. In a severe case, one may be lenient(31).
  • insect repellent – liquid or spray repellents may be used(32).
  • migraine headache – all oral medications may be taken.
  • nosebleed – the bleeding may be stopped with a tissue or a napkin. If none is available, a cloth napkin may be used(33).
  • retainer – may be inserted and removed(34).
  • rheumatism – It is prohibited to bathe in therapeutic hot springs(35).
  • scab – it is permitted to remove a scab as long as blood is not drawn from the wound(36).
  • sore throat – medication may not be taken. Gargling is prohibited(37). Drinking tea or any other hot drink, or sucking a candy, is permitted even if the intention is for medicinal purposes(38). See also ‘strep throat’.
  • sleep disorder – There are conflicting views among contemporary poskim whether it is permitted to take sleeping pills or no-doze pills(39). One who is weak all over or is bedridden may take these pills. Cotton balls may be used as ear plugs. It is questionable if it is permitted to use pliable ear plugs, which are made from a wax-like material that must be spread to fill the cavity of the ear(40).
  • sprains – If the patient is not experiencing severe pain, nothing may be done. If the patient is experiencing severe pain, medication may be taken and a massage may be given. A makeshift splint may be applied, provided that no Shabbos Labors are transgressed.
  • splinter under the skin(41) – may be extracted with the fingers, or with tweezers or a needle. If, unavoidably, a little blood is secreted in the process, it is of no consequence(42).
  • stitches – a non-Jew is allowed to stitch any wound(43), even if the stitching is done only for cosmetic reasons(44).
  • stomach cramps – Unless one is in severe pain or weak all over, it is prohibited to take a laxative or castor oil. Prune juice or any other food or drink is permitted. A hot water bottle is permitted when one experiences strong pains(45).

strep throat – all oral medications


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