I am standing on the shoulders of the many related "ad d'lo yada" questions but am particularly inspired by this question and a particular comment.

"If I'm drunk I'm patur from davening. So what's the problem? I'm patur! – Double AA♦ Feb 15 '13 at 20:13"

I assume that this refers to the notion that one who is busy with a mitzvah is exempted from the obligation to fulfill other mitzvot (which, I know, has many subtleties).

I am currently under a doctor's care and have some pills to take (full disclosure -- I just took one) and the side effects include

The most frequently observed adverse reactions include drowsiness lightheadedness, dizziness, sedation, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and constipation

most of which would make me feel incapable of speaking in front of a distinguished person, as per the citation in this answer (and, as it is not Purim, I cannot use the exception which that citation allows).

But I take it because I am told to by my doctor, and guarding my well being is an obligation on its own, as written here:

Q: Is it a Mitzvah to take medicine which a doctor prescribed me? A: Yes. The Torah commands "And he shall surely heal him." It is a Mitzvah to be healed by a doctor (Baba Kama 85a).

Not asking for a psak, but just for insight into the potential for a contradiction. I understand that all these side effects don't always happen and if one is not remotely incapacitated, there is less concern regarding prayer but I wonder -- do these two notions come into conflict? Is one who consistently feels a side effect then possibly patur from the obligation to daven for the duration of a medical treatment?

If my assumptions are incorrect, please correct me. TIA.

  • 1
    Re "I assume that this refers to the notion that one who is busy with a mitzvah is exempted from the obligation to fulfill other mitzvot": I assumed he meant due to incapacitation rather than due to being busy with a mitzva. (But you'd have to ask him.) I also don't know that he was correct. (No litotes intended.)
    – msh210
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 15:33
  • FWIW, I think Shulchan Aruch states that one who is ill with diarrhea is exempt from davening. Granted that this is a "sidebar" as one requires a "clean body" to daven. But, if you think about it, in most such cases, one is not going constantly, and there may be a period of time when his stomach is calm. However, as I understand it, as long as you are not completely well, and you don't know when you have to go, you'd be exempt. IMO, this sounds similar to your situation. You don't know when you have these side affects that may incapacitate you. OTOH, may be different if u r lucid long enough.
    – DanF
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:10

1 Answer 1


Being "patur" (released) from the obligation to pray when drunk is not because you are involved in a mitzvah. It is because you are incapable of praying with intention (kavanah). And it is about the degree of incapacitation (intoxication). Stop drinking alcohol. Wait 18 minutes and you can pray.

In the case of your medication, you have an obligation to safeguard your health, both physical and mental. That means you are not allowed to do something that will injure yourself and you are required to maintain good health. There are both positive and negative commandments involved.

If your doctor has prescribed a particular medication for you and says that you need to take it to safeguard yourself from harm. You have an obligation to follow his advice in order to maintain your health.

How much this effects your ability to concentrate for prayer and for how long is only something you can judge. But you should try to keep in mind that the requirement for having intention during prayer is only required in those brief sections that are indicated in halacha, like the first line of Shema and the opening blessing of the Amidah. Everything else is simply recital if you cannot concentrate. And in the case of the Amidah, listening to the Shaliach Tzibbur makes it even easier.

Each of us has unique challenges in our personal service to HaShem. At this time in your life, it may revolve around this subject of kavanah. But a good way to view it is that you are being asked to make more personal effort to focus for the brief moments when intention is required. An excellent discussion of this subject can be found in chapter 38 of the Tanya.


  • There are both positive and negative commandments involved. Such as?
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 2:46

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