CW: mental illnesses, suicidality, self-harm

I'm curious about what qualifies one as "One who recovered from a very serious illness" when it comes to bentching gomel, specifically in the case of one who suffers from mental illness. Would it be appropriate for someone to bentch after harming oneself, or attempting to take their life? What about after a stay in a psychiatric hospital?

If folks don't "recover" from mental illnesses in the same way one might recover from pneumonia, for example, how closely do we need to pay attention to recovery as a requirement for reciting the bracha? Or is the bracha also supposed to be a way to invite your community into ongoing healing?

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    Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first question. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Jan 4 at 14:59
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    I believe recovering from a serious illness is really recovering from losing conscience or anesthesia, ie., when you don't have control over your life (similar to the other reasons for birkat hagomel which are being in a place where you have no control). I would need to look up the sources but this would exclude mental illness
    – mbloch
    Jan 4 at 15:00
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    @mbloch depends which mental illness
    – Double AA
    Jan 4 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


Tzitz Eliezer 12:18 writes in the name of a rabbi of Israel:

ומסתברא לי שגם מי שחלה בחולי נפש אף שאין המחלה יכולה לגרום לסכנת חיים מ"מ הנרפא חייב לברך, וגם זה בגדר חולה ונתרפא... בדין שהנרפא חייב לברך ברכת הגומל, ברם יתכן לפטור אותו מטעם שאין רפואתו ברורה שעלולה לחזור אליו מחלתו הקודמת ונמצא דעדיין לא נתרפא, אבל כל שברור לנו שהמחלה לא תחזור מן הדין שיברך.

It seems to me that also mentally ill, even when it doesn’t lead to life-threatening situations they are nonetheless obligated to bless, because it is also in the category of the sick person who is healed... and the law is that anyone who is healed need to bless Birchas HaGomel, yet perhaps we should exempt him from blessing Gomel because his healing isn’t clear considering that he might have a relapse and it shows he wasn’t actually healed. But anyone who is clearly healed should bless.

Rabbi Waldenburg himself disagrees on the last point and says that every time one recovers from the illness one should bless.

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