The Shmooze

Did You Take Your Caffeine Suppository at Yom Kippur?

By Josh Tapper

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Yom Kippur is about atonement, cleansing your soul and starting anew. And since atonement doesn’t come easy, it also requires self-affliction, mostly performed through fasting. But if the fasting and the no washing and the no wearing leather shoes and the ban on sexual relations isn’t enough, next year you might try to inserting a caffeine suppository into your anus.

Turns out many Jews, unable to go sundown to sundown without a caffeine jolt, use the small rectal pills to get them through the day. One Williamsburg pharmacy claimed to have sold 150 suppositories the day before Yom Kippur.

“It helps — you know, it’s hard to concentrate when you’re fasting and also addicted to caffeine, one Orthodox Brooklynite, Baruch Herzfeld, told The Brooklyn Paper. “Some take it before sundown, but most take it throughout their fasting. These guys love a good loophole.”

The Halachic ruling on the magic little pill is unclear. Some believe ingesting anything, through any hole, undermines the ritual of the fast.

“We’re supposed to do it the old fashioned way — I wouldn’t advise [suppositories],” said a Hasidic rabbi. “We want to keep Jews in the synagogue and not in the bathroom” — even though there’s no liquid involved, caffeine still keeps your bladder loose.

If you’re squeamish about the physical discomfort, just remember the Day of Atonement requires a lot of standing.


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