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Appendicitis/Corona

Category: // By Rabbi: הרב ירון אשכנזי // Answer date: 03.01.2021

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Question:

I just had appendicitis and my appendix was removed. I am unsure whether I should say Birkat HaGomel since if I had not had the appendectomy in time it could have endangered my life. Or since this is considered a minor surgery, I was up and about later that day, maybe it was not serious enough to require Hagomel. Do you know what Minhag Ashkenaz is?

Answer:

Even though the general custom of Ashkenazim is only to say Hagomel on recovering from an illness that was life endangering, that one was bedridden, since the surgery itself involved cutting internal body organs it is considered an internal injury which we violate Shabbat for and any illness we violate Shabbat for we also will say Hagomel.
Even HaEzer Gemara in Brachot 54a says: Rav Yehuda in he name of Rav said there are four who need to thank Hashem, one who just finished a sea voyage, he who crossed a desert, one who was ill and recovered, and one who was released from prison. These are all derived from Pesukim in in Tehillim 107.
So it is ruled in Shulchan Aruch Orach HaChaim 219 : There are four people who have say Hagomel, seafarers who have just docked, those who crossed he desert when hey come to civilization, one who was ill and recovered, and those who were released from prison. This remembered by the phrase Ve’kol ‘Hachaim’ Yoducha …Choleh (illness Yisurim (jail) Yam (sea) and Midbar (desert).
How do we define who is considered a traveller or an illness disputed among the Rishonim and there is a difference between the customs of Sephardim and Ashkenazim? Even HaEzer Sephardic custom is that any traveller even on ways and roads which are not specifically dangerous say a bracha. Similarly, Sephardic say bracha even from an illness which the doctors have not determined to be actually dangerous. (Therefore, anyone who had Corona might have to say Hagomel). As the Yerushalmi Brachot 4:4 all roads are potentially dangerous. The Tur understands the Rambam in the same vein for illness, all sick people have potential for danger. Even though the Beit Yosef is unsure argues if that is actually clear in the Rambam, but he quotes the Ramban and Rashba who concur.
The Rosh in Brachot however says the custom in Ashkenaz and France was not to say a bracha except those who actually crossed a desert (wilderness) where there are vicious animal and bandits. So too with illness, it has to life threatening. The Yerushalmi is solely discussing Tefilat Haderech but Birkat HaGomel is in place a Korban Todah. So, writes Tosfot in the name of R’ Yosef that only someone who was ill enough to be bedridden. However, a headache or a stomach-ache don’t say a bracha so writes the Raavad that only an internal injury does he say HaGomel
The Shulchan Aruch 219 8 rules like he Ramban and the Rashba : Any illness one needs to say Hagomel. Even if the illness was not life threatening or an internal injury. As long as he was bedridden and got up since he passed a judgment. The is no difference between a chronic illness or one that comes from time to time. The Rema writes: Some say we only make a bracha on a dangerous illness like an internal injury.
The Shulchan Aruch HaRav rules that some say a bracha only on an illness which is dangerous like those illnesses which we violate Shabbat for. However, one should make if he was in in bed or three days and recovered. So rues the Aruch Hashulchan and the Mishna Berura. The modern day Poskim though say that even just having an internal surgery is sufficient to require a bracha.

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