Medicine and vitamins-Must it be Kosher for Pesach

This Halacha is an excerpt from our Sefer

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Medicine:

The letter of the law: Many medicines may contain Chametz ingredients and are included in the category of inedible Taaruvos Chametz, discussed in the previous Halacha, which may be owned but may not be consumed irrelevant of ratio of the Chametz, unless it is a life-threatening matter.[1] Nonetheless, this only refers to consuming the medicine in the normal method of eating a food, such as chewing chewable pills and drinking medicinal syrups that are not bad tasting. However, irregular forms of eating are permitted for medicinal purposes [for one who is bedridden or week in his entire body[2]].[3] This applies even if the illness does not involve danger. Accordingly, from the letter of the law, it is permitted for one who is sick [i.e. bedridden or weak in his entire body] to swallow all medicine capsules on Pesach even if they contain a Chametz ingredient, if they do not have a good taste upon placing it in one’s mouth.[4]

The practical custom and directive: In general, the custom today is to be careful and verify prior to taking a medicine that it is Chametz free, or to find an alternative brand.[5] Annually, various health clinics, especially those based in Israel, provide a list of hundreds of medications that are verified to be Chametz free, and each person can look up the list to check if his medication is listed.[6] If it is not listed, then one can check with his doctor if a non-Chametz alternative is available, and if not, then as to if he must continue taking it over Pesach. It goes without saying, that in all cases that the medicine is taken to prevent life threatening situations from developing, then it must be taken over Pesach if an alternative is not available, irrelevant of its Chametz content.[7]

Life threatening situation:[8] It is permitted [and an obligation] to own and eat Chametz for the sake of saving a life.

 

 

Summary-May one take non-Kosher for Pesach medicines?

Chewable or syrups: Require verification on the medicine list that they are Kosher for Pesach, unless it is taken to prevent a possible life-threatening situation and no other alternatives can be found.

Swallowable pills that do not have a good tasting coating: From the letter of the law, all swallowables may be taken by one who is sick, bedridden or weak in his entire body, even if it is not Kosher for Pesach. Nonetheless, initially, it is customary to verify its status on the medicine list and take an alternative if possible. This especially applies if one simply has a mere ache or pain.

                                                 

A full English and Hebrew Medicine list can be found on the following websites:

1.       https://www.clalit.co.il/he;

2.       https://www.meuhedet.co.il;

3.       https://www.maccabi4u.co.il;

4.       https://www.leumit.co.il;

5.       https://www.health.gov.il/Subjects/PharmAndCosmetics/Pages/passover.aspx

 

Kitniyos medicines:[9]

There is no need to be stringent to avoid taking medicines which contain Kitniyos.

 

Vitamins:

Vitamins, especially chewables, must be Kosher for Pesach, as many contain Chametz.[10] A full Kosher for Pesach vitamin list can be found in the Madrich of the Eida Hachareidis.

 


Downloadable PDF Medicine list for 2018/5778

Medicine, Vitamin, and baby formula list provided by Klalit health services, under the approbations of the Badatz Eida Hachareidis and the Cheif Rabbi’s of Israel  

[pdfjs-viewer url=”http%3A%2F%2Fshulchanaruchharav.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2018%2F03%2FMedicine-list-Kelalit-2018.pdf” viewer_width=100% viewer_height=1360px fullscreen=true download=true print=true]

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[1] Admur 442:22 regarding the Tariaka which is a medicine for the sick; See Rama Y.D. 155:3 that Rabbinical prohibitions may not be consumed even for medicinal purposes, unless one’s life is in danger; Shaagas Aryeh 74-75; Arugas Habosem 99; Achiezer 3:34-4

The reason it may not be taken even as medicine: If edible Chametz is intentionally placed into a mixture, it is never nullified even in 1000x, and hence is Rabbinically forbidden due to Chametz [and not just due to Achshavei]. [Admur 442:22] This explains why Chametz medicines are forbidden to consume even though we don’t normally say Achshavei when consuming a food for medicinal purposes. If, however, the Chametz was already inedible by the time it was inserted into the mixture, then it may be consumed for medicinal reasons, as is always the law regarding Achshavei. [implication of Admur ibid; See Rama Y.D. 155; Yad Avraham 155; Darkei Teshuvah 155:28; Atzei HaLevanon 19; Chazon Ish 116:8; Shulchan Shlomo 17] See other opinions- Vetzaruch Iyun!

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that all medicine today which is inedible even for a dog, may be taken for medicinal purposes, as the rule of Achshavei does not apply by medicines. [Igros Moshe 2:92; 3:62; See Magen Halef 467:6; Meishiv Halacha 2:162; Sdei Chemed 1:17; Chelek Levi 162] Other Poskim rule that only if the Chametz ingredient is an active ingredient in the medicine may it not be consumed. However, if it is not an active ingredient, then one is allowed to take it on Pesach, as when he eats he has no intention to eat the inactive Chametz part, and hence we do not apply the rule of Achshavei towards it. [Kesav Sofer 111; Darkei Teshuvah Y.D. 155:28; Levushei Mordechai O.C. 1:86; Chazon Ish 116:8; Kinyan Torah 4:44; Yechaveh Daas 2:60; SSH”K 40 footnote 163; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 442:5] Others, however, argue on this differentiation and prohibit all medicines that contain a Chametz ingredient due Achshavei. [Implication of Admur ibid; Shaagas Aryeh 74-75; Arugas Habosem 99; Achiezer 3:34-4]

[2] See Shulchan Shlomo 17; Yechaveh Daas ibid; See however Levushei Mordechai O.C. 1:86 who permits even in a case of pain

[3] Rambam Yesodei Hatorah 5:8; See Admur 466:4 regarding benefit

Definition of irregular form of eating: See Rambam ibid that eating it together with a bitter substance which removes the benefit of the taste demotes it from being a Biblical prohibition.

[4] Levushei Mordechai O.C. 1:86; Shulchan Shlomo 17; Nitei Gavriel 58:2; Shmiras Shabbas K’hilchasah, “Pills containing flour mixed with things that are not fit for human consumption can no longer be considered Chametz since the flour can no longer be separated out nor used to leaven other flour. Nor can the patient be said to attach importance (Achshavei) to the flour rather than the medication. These pills therefore may be swallowed on Pesach.”

Other opinions: See Noda Beyehuda Kama Y.D. 35 who rules that swallowing a food is considered Derech Hanaso. Rav SZ”A in Shulchan Shlomo says it does not apply in this case even in his opinion.

[5] Tzitz Eliezer 10:25;

[6] The following clinic website annually publicize the most recent medicine list for that year, approved by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel: https://www.clalit.co.il/he ; https://www.meuhedet.co.il ; https://www.maccabi4u.co.il ; https://www.leumit.co.il; See also the website of Misrad Habriut: https://www.health.gov.il/Subjects/PharmAndCosmetics/Pages/passover.aspx

[7] Michaber 155/3; Pesachim 25; Igros Moshe 4:92

[8] Admur 450:26; 328:2; Y.D. 155

[9] Tzitz Eliezer 10:25; Piskeiy Teshuvos 442:5

[10] Admur 442:22; Piskeiy Teshuvos 442 footnote 24; Nitei Gavriel 58:3

The reason: Vitamins do not contain the allowance of Achshavei by medicines, and hence certainly are prohibited in consumption according to all if they contain Chametz.

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