Brooklyn Jews get around Yom Kippur fast with ‘Talmudic loophole’: Caffeine suppositories
Jews throughout Williamsburg snapped up caffeine suppositories today, hours before the start of the Yom Kippur fast that would deprive them of the jolt — and hunger suppression — that coffee typically provides.
The day-long fast is the centerpiece of the holiest day on the Jewish calendar — but some religious Jews see a Talmudic loophole that allows them to ingest their daily dose of caffeine, albeit through a different orifice.
“It helps — you know, it’s hard to concentrate when you’re fasting and also addicted to caffeine,” said Baruch Herzfeld, an Orthodox Jew who owns a bike store in Williamsburg. “Some take it before sundown, but most take it throughout their fasting. These guys love a good loophole.”
These huge, rectally inserted pills are popular. Pharmacists at Rafieh — one of many distributors in south Williamsburg on Lee Avenue — sold nearly 150 suppositories today.
“We have caffeine suppositories!” the store’s handwritten sign heralded. “Be ready!”
But is it kosher?
There’s some controversy over whether Jews observing the Biblical fast should be taking an easy out (or, more accurately, in).
Some Jewish leaders said that consuming anything — through the body’s traditional entrance or its exit — is against the spirit of the ritualistic fast.
“We’re supposed to do it the old fashioned way — I wouldn’t advise [suppositories],” said Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, a Hasidic leader. “We wanna keep Jews in the synagogue and not in the bathroom.”
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