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Taking pills with letters on Shabbos

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There are many medicines which are permitted to be used on Shabbos in various situations. However, some of them have letters written or engraved on them. Is it permitted to take these pills on Shabbos?

  • Does it matter whether it is printed or engraved?
  • Does it matter if it is swallowed whole or chewed/sucked until it disintegrates?
  • Are there any other considerations?
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6 comments

Not a complete answer, but: It’s erasing without intent to rewrite, so it’s Rabbinic in nature. Not all Rabbinic prohibitions are permitted for non-life-threatening ailments, but many are, and a general rule of thumb (there are exceptions) is that a decree lest you violate a Biblical prohibition is always permitted for these ailments. There’s a bunch of other factors to consider here, but I would bet there’s no issue whatsoever given that the person is already permitted to take the medicine. DonielF 10 days ago

What about animal crackers :-) robev 10 days ago

@robev In all seriousness, I think animal crackers would be fine. The prohibition is specifically "writing". That being said, anecdote time: When the New Orleans Saints won the Superbowl, a member sponsored a Kiddush in their honor and had a special cake made. Everyone knew letters were a problem, but the Rabbi & Assistant Rabbi had a discussion regarding some other symbols on the cake. I believe the ruling was to "pre-cut" some of the items to play it safe. But the punchline was... manassehkatz 10 days ago

The Gemarah anticipated many things relating to the modern world, but they never expected that the Saints would win the Superbowl! manassehkatz 10 days ago

Erasing a symbol or drawing is no less than erasing a letter. I'm pointing out eating food shaped like something (let's say the letter A) is potentially included in the question robev 10 days ago

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