From the Rav’s Desk: 1) Chewing cloves for tooth ache; 2) Studying WW2 History for test

  1. Question: [Motzei Shabbos, 19th Teves 5781]

I suffer from dull tooth pain. May I bite on a clove on Shabbos for the sake of relieving it?


You should only do so in the process of eating such as to add cloves to a salad or other food and eat it within that food, however you should not need it plain. If, however, the pain is so strong that you feel weak in your entire body, then you may chew the clove regularly and even take medicine, as is the law of allowance by anyone who is sick.

Explanation: It is forbidden to take medicine on Shabbos even if one is in pain unless one is sick, which is defined as feeling weakness throughout the entire body. This restriction applies even against eating foods for medicinal purposes if it is being done in a way that is evident to all that its purpose is for medicine. However, the restriction does not apply if one consumes the food in the regular way of eating even if its true intent is for medicinal purposes, being that this intent is not apparent to others. Accordingly, we concluded above that while certainly one may eat the clove as part of an ingredient of his food or salad, even if his intent is for medicinal purposes being that there are plenty of healthy people who do so, and it is hence not apparent to others that is being done for medicinal purposes, nonetheless, he should not chew it plain being that, as far as I’m aware, this is not normally done by even a minority of healthy people for eating purposes and will hence be viewed by others as being done for medicinal purposes.

Sources: Admur 328:1 [regarding general medicine prohibition]; Admur 328:38 [regarding the permitted and forbidden ways of treating toothache based on the intensity of the ache and on whether the treatment appears like medicine to others]; Admur 328:43 and Ketzos Hashulchan 134 footnote 16 [regarding if the general prohibition of medicine applies to foods]; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 328:61 footnote 485 that while it is permitted to eat garlic in salad for medicinal purposes, it is not permitted to eat garlic plain for medicinal purposes being that not even a minority of people do so


  1. Question: [Motzei Shabbos, 19th Teves 5781]

I have a big midterm coming up this Sunday on the subject of the history of World War II. It mainly focuses on the history of Hitler and the rise of Hitler YIM”Sh to power and the anti-Semitic laws passed in Germany prior to the start of the war. My question is whether I’m allowed to study this material on Shabbos or not.



You may not read this material on Shabbos whether to study for a test or for mere personal knowledge.

Explanation: There are three halachic issues that come into play in this question: 1) Does reading history books transgress the Shabbos reading restrictions? 2) Does reading subjects associated with tragedies of the Jewish people transgress a prohibition against being sad and possibly crying unnecessarily on Shabbos. 3) Does preparing for a test on Shabbos transgress the prohibition against preparing on Shabbos for the weekday. Practically, while this last issue can find halachic leniency, the former two issues seem to be a real problem in this case and therefore we concluded that it may not be done. The following is an analysis on the subjects: The sages prohibited one from reading materials on Shabbos that are not Torah related and that do not relate to wisdom. Practically, it is explicitly ruled that history is not a field of wisdom and that therefore it is forbidden to read history books dealing with the wars of the Gentiles on Shabbos and only history books dealing with Jewish history that contain a moral and ethical lesson, such as the book of Josephus or Shevet Yehuda, may be read on Shabbos. The Achronim further stipulate that even by these books one may only read the joyful subjects, such as the miracles that G-d did for us, and not read the chapters dealing with tragedies as one is not allowed to be sad on Shabbos. Accordingly, there is no room to allow studying World War II history on Shabbos as if it does not include the aspects of Jewish history then it is forbidden under the prohibition of history books of the wars of the Gentiles. Furthermore, even if it does contain sections of history of the Jewish people, it remains forbidden either due to a dealing with tragedies and sad content, or due to it not containing any moral and ethical lesson, or due to both reasons. However, there is seemingly no prohibition against reading permitted material on Shabbos in preparation for a test and hence it is prohibited simply because it is prohibited material and may not be read whether for a test or for individual knowledge.

Sources: See regarding the reading prohibition: Admur 307:30; Michaber 307:16; Mur Uketzia 307; M”B 307:58; Piskeiy Teshuvos 307:24; see regarding reading in preparation for a test: Piskeiy Teshuvos 290:5; SSH”K 28:92 footnote 220 in name of Rav SZ”A


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