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Is it Permissible to Take Medication on Tisha B’Ab?

If a person must take pills on Tisha B’Ab, and cannot miss a day of medication, what is the proper procedure for swallowing them?

Hacham Ben Sion Abba Shaul (Israel, 1923-1998) writes that it is permissible to swallow pills on Tisha B’Ab when medication is necessary. He adds that if a person cannot swallow the pills without water, then before taking the medication he should put something in the water to make it bitter, such that most people would not drink it. For example, he can place a tea bag in the water for an extended period of time, until the taste becomes exceptionally strong. Or, he can place baking soda or rosemary in the water so that it becomes bitter such that people would not ordinarily drink it. He may then sip some of the water to help him swallow the pill. This was also the position of the Sedeh Hemed (Rav Haim Hizkiya Medini, 1833-1905) and the Kaf Ha’haim (Rav Yaakob Haim Sofer, Baghdad-Israel, 1870-1939), in Siman 554 (34).

Summary: One who must take pills on Tisha B’Ab may do so, and if he needs water to swallow the pill, he should first make the water bitter, such as by placing in it strong tea concentrate or the like.

 


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