Ask The Rabbi

Blood Transfusions and Chocolate

Become a Supporter Library Library
Topic: Blood Transfusions

Saul Behr from Johannesburg wrote:

Every few months I donate blood at a local blood bank. Because I often feel weak after donating the blood I make sure to eat or drink something that is sugary right afterwards. On one recent occasion just after they had finished drawing the blood I took a bite out of a milchig (dairy) chocolate bar. While the chocolate was still in my mouth I remembered that I was fleshig after eating chicken earlier. I reasoned that spitting out the chocolate would violate the principle of "K'vod Habriot" (human dignity), and decided to swallow the chocolate quickly instead. Did I do the right thing?

Dear Saul,

Three factors are important in determining the answer to your question:

  1. The weak feeling after giving blood;
  2. How long after eating chicken the chocolate was ingested; and
  3. The issue of K'vod Habriot.

I spoke to Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg regarding your question and he said that the minimum waiting period after eating meat is one hour, although, according to many customs, it is customary to wait longer. (This is true regarding both poultry and red meat). Since the weakness you felt constitutes a health hazard, a one hour wait would be sufficient.

However, if you ate the chicken within an hour of the chocolate, the proper proceedure is to swallow a little of the chocolate so as not to make a Bracha L'vatalah (blessing in vain) and then spit the rest out into a tissue or handkerchief, thereby upholding the principle of K'vod Habriot. By the way, throwing away the rest of the chocolate bar constitutes wasting, so find someone who is not fleishig, and offer it to him, or save it for later.

Although some say the following joke is in poor taste, I will share it with you anyway because it is related to the topic of eating and K'vod Habriot. Social scientists developed a technique for taking young sociopaths and refining their characters so that they could function in normal society. To prove the effectiveness of their technique they chose a particularly extreme case and applied their method to him. The results were more than they could have hoped for; he became a modest, erudite and courteous young man. The time eventually came to present their case study to jury of their peers. The subject performed wonderfully, answering all of the questions thoughtfully and with poise. The final question was carefully chosen and the questioner was genuinely curious as to his response. "Is man good or bad?" All waited anxiously as he thought for a moment. "Man is actually not that bad, I prefer mine lightly roasted and with a bit of salt."


  • Pitchei Teshuva - Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah, 87.

Enter Search Phrase:    
Browse By Keyword: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) EIN 13-3503155 and your donation is tax deductable.