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Jewish Laws for Yom Kippur for MDA Personnel

27-09-12 , 10:27

Magen David Adom in Israel                                                                       With God's help

It's a matter of life                                                                 Judaism and Halacha Committee


Jewish Laws for Yom Kippur for MDA Personnel

"Yom Kippur is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God... and ye shall afflict your souls... " (Leviticus 23)


This collection of laws does not specify all the Yom Kippur laws, but it refers to special situations that are typical to MDA personnel, those on shift and those on standby.


Yom Kippur Evening

It is a Mitzvah to eat on Yom Kippur evening.  It is recommended that anyone who is planned to work or is on standby on Yom Kippur will prepare his recommended drinking amount, if such will be needed, at the evening of Yom Kippur (the drinking rate of the average person is 40 cc. per day) and drink such quantity of liquids every 9 minutes, if necessary ("drinking in installments").


Taking pills to make the fast easier is permitted, and whoever had it in the past and found it helpful - should do so if he plans to work or to be on standby.


No Work

Practically, the prohibition to work on Yom Kippur is exactly the same as the prohibition to work on Sabbath.



Yom Kippur is a day of fasting from the Torah, from evening until the next evening.  The fast begins around 5pm and ends at around 6:10pm, winter time (the exact time for each city and zone is published),

An employee or person on standby, who knows in advance that fasting weakens him, will try not to assign himself a shift through the fast.  If he was assigned a shift, he shall try and find a substitute who is not weakened by fasting.


An employee on shift on Yom Kippur who feels weakness due to fasting and who is concerned that the weakness may harm his ability to offer help, will try to find a substitute who is not weakened by fasting.  In the absence of an available substitute, the employee may drink until he is strengthened.  At first, he shall drink "in installments" and if this isn't enough - he shall drink as much as may be required.


The same shall apply to a person who is the sole standby (medic/paramedic/doctor) at his residence area.


By the end of the fast Havdalah is obligatory, but drinking water before doing Havdalah is permitted.  A person who did not do Havdalah by the end of the fast can do Havdalah throughout the evening and throughout the next day as well (without saying blessings on the candles).



It is permitted to wash one's hands up to the arm joint in order to treat patients.  After treatment, it is permitted to wash any body part that came in contact with anything that may be infective (blood, discharges etc.) with water and disinfectants and to wipe it off immediately.  When cleaning tools and devices or the ambulance, be observant of wringing out and "libun" (heating until white-hot) prohibitions.



It is prohibited to wear leather shoes on Yom Kippur.  It is necessary to prepare suitable alternative shoes that are permitted on Yom Kippur.


But if a person does not have suitable alternative shoes and he had to drive or quickly arrive to offer help at an incident, he shall wear his ordinary shoes and take them off as soon as he can do so.



It is required to prepare in order to allow every employee or person on standby to pray the whole prayer in public (to organize the required changing in advance).


Confession is to be said on Yom Kippur.  Whoever is too busy working and is not available for a full prayer shall at least make a short confession ("I have committed iniquity, have

transgressed, have sinned before You," and pay attention to the content of the confession), and once he finds free time - shall complete the full confession).


Whoever has missed a prayer in public can pray alone, each prayer at its scheduled time.  Mussaf prayer should be said at first, by the end of the seventh hour (around 12:30am)

Whoever has missed a prayer due to the treatment in an incident shall complete it on the following prayer, but if he missed the Neila prayer - he shall not complete it.


Whoever missed a Mincha prayer - shall complete it on the Arvit prayer, according to ordinary days (despite having the time of Neila in the middle).


A person who needs to rest in order to complete the fast (and to complete his shift as required), it is better that he completes his fasting (and rest as needed) than complete his prayer in public, since the Mitzvah of fasting is from the Torah.


Good Advice

A worker on shift shall not postpone the meal before the fast ("arucha mafseket") to the last minute, since he might be called on an urgent call and then enter the fast without eating properly.  Therefore, he shall eat a bit earlier than required, and by the end of the meal he shall not begin the fast, and towards the beginning of the fast, he can consume any food or drinks as required.


Gmar chatima tova to all MDA's personnel and to all of Israel




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