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Diabetes on Yom Kippur

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Topic: Diabetes, Fasting of Yom Kippur

Mom wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

My 15 year old daughter was just diagnosed with diabetes. One of her first thoughts was, "Now I won't be able to fast on Yom Kippur." I assured her she would find other ways of fulfilling that spiritual purpose. I would appreciate suggestions for her. Thank you.

Dear Mom,

Even though some people with diabetes don't fast on Yom Kippur some do. Before Yom Kippur you and your daughter should consult with a competent doctor and with an Orthodox Rabbi.

The Rambam writes that the major purpose of fasting is repentance, returning to a more spiritual life. Not being able to fast, however, does not preclude the possibility of repentance. According to the Rambam, repentance involves three stages: Regret, verbal admission of the sin in prayer, and commitment not to repeat the sin in future.Just as it is a mitzvah for a healthy person to fast, it is a mitzvah for your daughter to preserve her health.


  • Mishneh Torah Hilchot Ta'anit 5:1

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