By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, June 10, 2009

My wife was recently advised in a parenting class to always pack along some food when out with the children in case any of them had a “bulmus attack”, which could adversely affect their behaviour.

Bulmus is originally Greek and means a sickly hunger. The Talmud (Yoma 83a-b) discusses the case of someone who has caught bulmus. This was a sickness, apparently prevalent in talmudic times whose main symptom was a huge appetite. Someone suffering from Bulmus was allowed to eat on Yom Kippur (even non-kosher food, if permitted food was not available.

The sages in the Talmud discuss the best foods to serve one suffering from bulmus. They conclude that sweet food, especially honey, was best in case of a sudden attack.

The Talmud records that once Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yossi were walking along the way when Rabbi Yehuda felt a bulmus attack coming on. He stopped a nearby shepherd and asked him for his bread. When they got to the city, Rabbi Yossi fell prey to the sickness (was it contagious?). The townspeople rushed to him with plates of food. Rabbi Yehuda laughed and replied, “I dispossessed a shepherd, but you dispossessed a whole town!” (Yoma 83b).

Last updated: 9:38pm, June 10 2009