Brooklyn, NY – Yom Kippur Fast Made Easier With the Help of IV Infusions

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    NY Times reporter Joseph Berger in interview with  Yitzchok Fleischer, the founder and executive director of the Bikur Cholim D’Bobov. Photo: Alexander RapaportBrooklyn, NY – Fasting on Yom Kippur can be difficult for even the healthiest person. But for the elderly, infirm, pregnant, or those dependent upon medication, getting through the holiest day of the Jewish year without food and water can be a nightmarish ordeal.

    Ten years ago, Yitzchok Fleischer, the founder and executive director of the Bikur Cholim D’Bobov, sought to change all that according to a report in the New York Times (http://nyti.ms/SPjGj8). Inspired by an ill friend who told Mr. Fleischer he needed intravenous feeding in order to complete the fast, Mr. Fleischer sprang into action.

    With the assistance of the nearby Maimonides Medical Center, Mr. Fleischer has established “virtual clinics” in the basement of the Bobov shul and at other sites which operate throughout Yom Kippur. Twenty hospital cots are set up at the clinics to accommodate worshippers. Medical technicians supervise participants who receive nutrients via an IV drip for about a half hour each before returning to prayers. All those who receive IV nutrients must verbally affirm that both their rabbi and doctor approved the treatments.

    Some 200 people took advantage of Mr. Fleischer’s service last year.

    Mr. Fleischer said he consulted with three “big rabbis” who certified his program as halachically permissible. He is careful to point out that this practice is not a religious loophole. “Everyone is a difficult case. It’s not a loophole. It’s not considered eating if it goes through a vein,” he said. “You’re not supposed to take anything though the mouth or stomach. Anything. Even if you’re allowed to, nobody wants to eat. It’s very hard for a person who has always fasted to face the reality of a situation where they have to eat,” he continued. “This way they still feel they fasted and halachically, they didn’t eat. The mouth is still dry.”

    Non-Jewish pediatricians are also on call during Yom Kippur and other holidays to administer aid to sick Jewish kids thanks to Mr. Fleischer’s efforts. “Life is not just eating, davening, and sleeping,” Mr. Fleischer remarked. “You’ve got to do something for other people.”

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    24 COMMENTS

    1. “Even if you’re allowed to, nobody wants to eat. “

      So he admits that this is totally absurd both halachically and medically. It’s like a cosmetic procedure–it makes the guy feel good.

      • Perhaps you can explain what the loophole is since you mistakenly think you are the least bit knowledgable in Halacha and medicine.

        We are interested in seeing what convoluted theory you might come up with.

        Mr. Fleischer did what you would not consider, he spoke to podium and doctors. They felt this is worthwhile. But I M sure that they do not know as well as you, who doesn’t even know which way is up in a Sefer, and could not read one word with more than three (3) letters in a medical text.

        • shame on you before yom kippur say lie about about another Jew go and daven it will not help for bein adon lachavrha

          all i am saying if someone is sick enough that they need to eat halacha says you can eat. in the end whether your eat with your mouth or with an iv the end result is the same. of course halache of yesteryear did not address this, there was no iv at that time.

    2. The IV makes a wound on Yom Kippur which is forbidden.
      If it is sakanos nefashos and one had the choice between eating, which is kares, and IV, which is chillul shabbos/Yom Kippur, then the IV would help avert the kares.
      Otherwise, this method which makes a wound is not really a clean loophole.

      • Most people who use this service have the needle inserted before yom kippur – so the is no issue with puncturing the skin in yom kippur. It’s not a service for the healthy – it’s for elderly people or for people with health issues who have a hard time fasting, however, not hard enough for them not to fast.

        • This procedure has a high rate of causing infections. Your not supposed to leave a needle or something in you where you can then put a needle in you. This is ridiculous and against halacha and against medical procedure.

    3. I happened to use rabbi fleischers services at one of the participating doc offices. It’s an exceptional convenience for ppl that need to stay hydrated vs the alt option of drinking a shot glass amount of water every 9 min (or whatever the correct method is).

      To no 2: the IV needle is administrated before Yom Kippur!! You can add the line at anytime durning Yom Tov.

      • I am no expert either, but if women can avoid the prohibition of exhibiting their naked hair to the whole world by putting on a fake hair wig, which makes them look even more attractive to other men, then why not this?

    4. Rabbi Fleischer has been serving people with medical needs for 25 years plus unselfishly and with a smile. He is a unassuming, self effacing, and does everything lishmah. He will give you the shirt off his back, get up at 3 am, make calls for you, run interference with doctors and Maimonides, whatever, to help a fellow Jew. Chazak Va’amatz and May Hashem repay you kefel , kiflayim.

    5. The big issue is not whether iv fluids or preferable over oral fluids on yom kippur, but why he is using a smartphone in the picture. Maybe this photo was taken before R’ Kanievsky’s command to burn iphones.

    6. I presume a fast is meant to be a sacrifice. It is less of a sacrifice if you are getting medical assistance. But, as I said, I am no expert. Neither do I sit as a judge on this man.

    7. Rav Chayim Brisk was very lenient with sick people who had to eat on YK. When .asked why he was so lenient, he replied that when it came to Pikuach Nefesh, he was very strict!

    8. There is no obligation to be in shul all day.
      There is no obligation to stand all day.
      There is no obligation to spend the whole day in tefilla.
      But there is a Biblical obligation to fast.

      These people should spend their day at home in bed, rather than standing in shul and being forced to take extreme measures in order to not break their fast.

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