Halacha for Wednesday 22 Av 5780 August 12 2020

The “Ha’Gomel” Blessing for One Who Has Recovered from the Coronavirus

Question: If one was sick with the Coronavirus but was not in any life-threatening danger and the illness merely caused one to be bedridden, must one recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing?

Answer: In the previous Halacha we explained that there are four types of people that must recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing: Sea travelers upon safely docking, individuals travelling through the desert upon reaching an inhabited settlement, a sick person who has recovered, and an incarcerated person who was released. A way to remember these four types is with the verse וכל החיי"ם יודוך סלה. This is an acronym for CH’avush, Y’am, Y’isurim, M’idbar. Chavush refers to one who was imprisoned and then freed, Yam refers to sea travellers who have docked safely, Yisurim refers to the suffering experienced by a person who was ill and now healed, and Midbar refers to those travelling through the desert who have reached an inhabited place.

Regarding the obligation of one who was sick and then healed to recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing, the Ramban writes in his Sefer Torat Ha’Adam: “Regarding the “Ha’Gomel” blessing for a sick person who has recovered, this does not apply specifically to a person with a life-threatening illness; rather, as long as one was bedridden, one must praise Hashem with the “Ha’Gomel” blessing, for anyone who has been bedridden is considered to have been seated on the prosecutor’s bench awaiting judgment and needs a great defense in order to be saved. Hashem in His great mercy provided this person with the necessary defense through the Mitzvot and good deeds that he has performed.”

The Rashba and other Rishonim write similarly. The Meiri quotes the opinions that write that only one who recovers from a life-threatening illness recites the “Ha’Gomel” blessing and then writes, “I do not agree with this; rather anyone who was bedridden and then arose [from his illness] must recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing for he is considered to have been judged on the prosecutor’s bench.”

Halachically speaking, Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 219, Section 8) rules, as follows: “For any illness, even one which is not life-threatening, one must recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing, for as long as one was bedridden and since recovered, one is considered to have been seated on the prosecutor’s bench awaiting judgment.” The Rama there notes, however, “Some say that one only recites the “Ha’Gomel” blessing for a life-threatening illness, such as an internal injury, and this is the Ashkenazi custom.” Nevertheless, some say that even according to the Ashkenazi custom, if one’s illness caused one to be confined to bed, one must recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing.

The widespread custom among the Sephardic and Middle Eastern Jews is to recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing for any illness, even non-life-threatening, so long as one was bedridden as a result of the illness.

Thus, halachically speaking, if one fell ill as a result of COVID-19 to the extent that one became bedridden, when one recovers, one must recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing when one recovers. Nevertheless, even if one tests positive for COVID-19 antibodies but one did not suffer from any of the common symptoms, one may not recite the blessing, for our Sages did not enact the blessing to be recited under such circumstances. Nevertheless, it is appropriate for one to offer thanks to Hashem by reciting several chapters of Tehillim and the like.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Customary Order of Rosh Hashanah

It is customary to eat certain symbolic foods during the two nights of Rosh Hashanah which signify good fortune for the entire upcoming year. It is therefore customary to eat black-eyed peas, pumpkin, leek, spinach, dates, pomegranates, apples dipped in honey, and meat of a sheep’s head on the......

Read Halacha

Some Details Regarding the Prayers of the Days of Awe

Anyone who appreciates the loftiness of the Days of Awe customarily tries to recite all prayers of these days with much precision and care. There are many Machzorim on the market containing several versions for various texts, some which can be relied upon and others which cannot be relied upon at al......

Read Halacha

Lighting Candles on Rosh Hashanah and the Issue this Year

The Laws of Candle-Lighting on Rosh Hashanah On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we customarily light Yom Tov candles before the onset of Yom Tov similar to the way we light them on Erev Shabbat. If the candles were not lit before the onset of Yom Tov, a woman may even light the candles on Yom Tov i......

Read Halacha

Should One Cry on Rosh Hashanah?

Question: What is the proper way to behave during the prayers of Rosh Hashanah: Should one arouse himself to cry during the prayers in order for Hashem to pity us and grant us all of our requests or should one pray amid great joy? Answer: The Mitzvah to be Glad on Rosh Hashanah The Poskim deli......

Read Halacha


The Walls of the Sukkah

The days between Yom Kippur and the Sukkot holiday are indeed holy ones during which we are involved with the building of the Sukkah in order to go from strength to strength. Our Sages teach us that the four days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot are treated as sanctified days and are similar to the day......

Read Halacha

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha

Motza’ei Yom Kippur

Adding From the Mundane Onto the Holiness One must add some of the mundane weekday onto the holiness of Yom Kippur upon its exit, i.e. one should not end this holy day immediately with nightfall; rather, one should wait another few minutes. Thus, it is prohibited to eat or perform work on Motza&rsq......

Read Halacha

Laws of the Sechach (Roof) of the Sukkah and Decorations Hung from the Sechach

The Mitzvah to Beautify the Sukkah It is a great Mitzvah to beautify the Sukkah and decorate it as much as possible by adorning it with beautiful vessels and illuminating it with fine lights. The Mekubalim write that by honoring the Sukkah with fine lighting, one’s soul will merit resting pea......

Read Halacha