The Halachos of Keeping a Healthy Lifestyle




    Chalukas Shas 5784

    The Halachos of Keeping a Healthy Lifestyle

    A collection of halachos related to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, imperative to being able to serve Hashem properly, from and by Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, Mara D’asra and member of the Crown Heights Beis Din • Full Article

    The Importance of Drinking along with Eating

    The Gemara states, “Achal v’lo shasa, achilaso dam”, it’s harmful to eat a meal without drinking, and doing so results in stomach problems. The Gemara similarly states elsewhere that dowsing food with liquid prevents intestinal issues. However, the Rambam suggests that one should drink only a little bit during the meal, and one should drink properly—but not too much—after the food begins being digested.

    Aside from these health benefits (which are corroborated by contemporary medical science, l’havdil), there is also a halachic reason for drinking during a meal. According to some poskim, the mitzva d’Oraisa (Biblical commandment) of reciting Birchas Hamazon after eating applies only if one ate and drank. Their opinion is based on the following interpretation of the passuk (verse), “V’achalta, v’savata, u’veirachta”: “When you eat and are sated by drink, you should recite Birchas Hamazon.”

    Although it is not the accepted halacha, those who wish to fulfill the mitzva d’Oraisa of bentching according to all opinions should make it a point to drink during the meal. Moreover, the halacha is that when choosing an individual to lead the zimun (the quorum of three or more for bentching), it’s preferable to choose someone who ate and drank during the meal. Halacha2Go #512

    The Halacha of Bach Flower Remedies

    As the popularity of homeopathic and alternative supplements grows, consumers concern for the kashrus of Bach Flower Remedies (BFRs) has become a common halachic shailah. The stock products of BFRs contain brandy as a significant minor ingredient, which is an issue of stam yainam (wine that has been prepared by non-Jews). However, when prepared in the conventional manner as a consumable remedy by mixing only a few drops of various products with water or other liquids, (see below) does the minute amount of brandy in the mixture still pose a halachic issue?

    Bittul (nullification) of non-Jewish wine, according to most poskim, would entail a ratio of batel b’shesh (nullified by six [times other ingredients relative to wine]). (In most kashrus applications the ratio is one to sixty; stam yainam however, as a purely Rabbinic prohibition, is less stringent.) The small amount of brandy in the prepared (and diluted) mixture of BFRs easily conforms to this formula. (Even if one opts to be more stringent with brandy than with regular wine, and even if using the maximum recommended number of drops, the brandy will still total less than one sixtieth, and is therefore batel.)

    But there are many other factors to consider. There is the halachic principle of chana”n (=chatichah na’aseis neveilah — “a piece absorbs non-kosher and thus gives the whole a non-kosher status), and it causes the entire product to be assur, so that we would need sixty times added liquid to dilute the amount of stock product used. This is possible with a few drops of the product in the prepared mixture, but not with the maximum recommended amount.

    There is also a halachic concept of ein mevatlin issur l’chatchila (we do not nullify something forbidden in the first place). The act of taking the stock BFR products and mixing them with water to dilute them can well fall into this category of exclusion to halachic bittul. In addition, there are numerous exclusions to nullifying non-kosher ingredients, even in minute amounts: a davar hama’amid (ingredient used to substantiate [a product]) never becomes nullified due to its significance within the mixture. Another exclusion is if the prohibited substance is present because derech asiyaso b’kach (it is a regular ingredient in the recipe)—as indeed is the case here. (For more examples of exclusions to bittul, see Halacha #536, Halacha #629 and Halacha #676).

    There are, however, various halachic counter-arguments that may allow us to rely on leniencies and permit BFRs. Most significantly, there is a heter (dispensation) for a choleh (a person who is ill) to use tasteless non-kosher medication that is swallowed (See Halacha #180). However, for this heter to apply it must be ascertained that the remedy is considered a refuah bedukah (a well-researched, proven medicine). In addition to resolving whether alternative supplements are considered medicine in this context (and specifically in the case of BFRs, which have failed many clinical studies), there is the question whether these particular remedies—which are marketed to promote general physical and emotional wellness—would be included in the heter designed for a choleh.

    There may still be some leniencies to be found for allowing the consumption of these and similar remedies. A knowledgeable rav should be consulted regarding individual cases and products.

    * Since BFRs are considered harmless even in larger quantities, some consumers use the stock product by directly applying it to the tongue. Aside from the fact that most proponents of BFRs consider this a less effective use of the remedy, it can introduce even greater halachic issues: Even if we wouldn’t consider applying the drops to the tongue “consumption” in the normal manner of eating and drinking, merely absorbing them into the body can still be assur (called sichah k’shtiya). In addition, stam yainam is assur b’hana’ah (deriving any benefit [from the forbidden substance] is prohibited, see Halacha #748) according to many poskim. Although these concerns are mitigated where a person’s health is concerned, there is less reason to apply these leniencies when alternative administration—through dilution—is available (and also therapeutically recommended). For more about alternative medicines, see Halacha2Go #10 and #165. Halacha2G0 #800 

    *References are available for this Halacha on: and

    Please note that these halachos apply in general situations, if you are unsure whether the halacha applies to your particular situation, please consult a Rav


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