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Pregnancy and Yom Kippur

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Topic: Fasting, Yom Kippur, Pregnancy

We received several different versions of the following question from Ask The Rabbi subscribers from around the globe:

With Yom Kippur just around the corner, I have a very practical question. Does a pregnant woman need to fast on Yom Kippur?

Dear All,

A healthy, pregnant woman should fast on Yom Kippur, just as she would on the 9th of Av and the other public fasts. Whereas, in general, physical weakness exempts a pregnant woman from the other public fasts, it does not exempt them on Yom Kippur.

However, a pregnant woman who is not well, either before or after the onset of Yom Kippur, is permitted to eat if there is any danger to life that may result from this illness or any complications that my result from the illness. This may be determined by the woman consulting with her physician. In fact, the woman's own feeling and determination of her "need to eat" is usually the most important factor.

Maintaining good health when under "stressful" circumstances is also a consideration. There is a well known story about Rabbi Yisrael Salanter beseeching his community to eat on Yom Kippur during a cholera epidemic, so that the population's resistance to the disease should not be lowered.

This is only a sketchy guideline. Please consult your doctor and YLOR (Your Local Orthodox Rabbi) for a decision in your personal case (or make a voice connection with a NSLOR - Not-So Local Orthodox Rabbi - if an LOR is not available).


  • Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) - Orach Chayim 617, 618, 550,554.

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