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Blood from wound - kosher?


Rabbi David Sperling

Tammuz 28, 5772
Dear Rabbi, many people have a habit that when they cut themselves accidentally (for example with a kitchen knife when cooking) and blood comes out of the wound, that they put the finger in their mouth and suck the wound. (I think that some of the reasons why they do this is that they learned this in childhood and they do it to calm themselves or because they think that it stops the bleeding or maybe also because they are afraid of blood. I think that they want to get the blood away and their motivation is not to eat the blood) My question is: In the light of Tora forbidding us to eat any blood, is this permissible or should people not do it? Does one’s own blood also count as "any blood"? And is swallowing of blood in this case also consuming? Thank you very much in advance! I highly appreciate it! Sincerely Yours, Ronald Wolf
Shalom, Thank you for your interesting question. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 66,10) states that human blood, after it has left the body, is forbidden. This is not because the human blood itself is forbidden to us from the Torah, but rather because someone might think mistakenly that it was non-human blood and therefore forbidden (this type of law is called "marit aiyin"). So, if one bites an apple and finds that blood has come out of one's gums onto the apple, the blood spots must be removed from the apple before taking the next bite. However, continues the Shulchan Aruch, blood inside one's mouth is allowed, and so if one has bit their cheek, or has bleeding gums, the blood inside the mouth may be swallowed, and one does not need to spit it out. There is some discussion amongst the Rabbis as to the definition of this prohibition. Is it only permitted when the blood is flowing inside one's mouth because it never "came out" as it were? This seems to be Rashi's understanding. If so, blood on a cut, even though it is clearly human blood and permissible, would still fall under the Rabbinic prohibition, as all external blood was forbidden. Or is it always permitted whenever it is clearly human blood, as when it is dripping from a cut finger? This is Tosafot's understanding. If so, the blood from a cut finger is readily identified as human blood, and is allowed. Many opinions rule leniently, and allow one to suck on a cut finger, whilst there are some stricter opinions who forbid it, or only allow it if the blood is inside the wound and will be sucked out, but not if it has already flowed out onto the skin of the finger. (See Nishmat Avraham on the Shulchan Aruch ibid). Blessings.
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