The Gemara says that four have to say Hagomel:

  1. One who went overseas
  2. One who went into a desert.
  3. One who was [deathly] ill.
  4. One who was in prison [on a capital crime].

To what level of danger must one be subjected to qualify for #3? For instance, anesthesia is a routine procedure that still carries a significant risk of not waking up. Would one who undergoes anesthesia need to bentch Gomel?

  • giving birth is also a routine procedure which still carries significant risk so that might be parallel
    – Double AA
    Jun 19, 2017 at 14:48
  • @DoubleAA In hachi nami. Doesn't one say gomel on giving birth (or at least her husband)?
    – DonielF
    Jun 19, 2017 at 15:53
  • Some women do at least. I don't see what danger the husband experienced during labor that "at least" he should. More like "at least" she should, and in odd cases he should too.
    – Double AA
    Jun 19, 2017 at 15:54
  • @DoubleAA (That's why I said "at least" instead of "or rather".)
    – DonielF
    Jun 19, 2017 at 15:55
  • A bunch of other questions cover aspects of this very broad one. See judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/hagomel
    – msh210
    Jun 19, 2017 at 18:08

2 Answers 2


www.shut-halacha.co.il reports a Teshuva from Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl which says:

מי שעבר ניתוח בהרדמה כללית צריך לברך הגומל, כיון שהרדמה כללית הנה סכנה.

Someone who underwent surgery with a total anesthetic should say Hagomel since a total anesthetic is a danger.


Yeshiva.org's article on Birkas Hagomel distinguishes between the views of the Shulchan Oruch and the Rema. This is a short summary:

SA: someone who is so sick that he stays in bed for 3 days says Hagomel.

Rema: someone whose life has been in danger to the extent that the Shabbos could be desecrated for him, says Hagomel. This applies even where there has been the smallest risk of danger to life.

Rav Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 12:18) requires Hagomel for any operation however minor (e.g. surgery for the eye, fracture or hemorrhoids) because there are always possibilities of complications and danger. Operations with an anesthetic also require Hagomel.

Sefardim and some Ashkenazim follow the SA; most Ashkenazim follow the Rema.

  • 1
    @Ploni Well done for adding the links. Excuse my British spelling. Jun 19, 2017 at 18:28

Here is a Ma’aseh Rav showing that R. Hayyim Joseph David Azulai recited this blessing after recovering from an illness which does not seem to have been particularly dangerous or life-threatening, but merely very uncomfortable. In his diary entry for June 14th, 1776 he writes:

Friday, Shelah: some of the community leaders came to see me concerning ‘our secret’ and I was sullen and annoyed. That morning I was unable to get out of bed. I suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea and fever; and I was in distress all day long.

(Cymerman translation)

In the entry for the following say he continues describing his illness:

Saturday, the holy Sabbath: we prayed the evening service at home. And I ate a little. In the morning I forced myself, though suffering greatly, to go to the Synagogue. And by dint of great effort I managed to eat two meals, just a small amount; and the vomit and diarrhoea continued.

(Cymerman translation)

Again, the next day:

Sunday, Qorah: I was in distress all day through my illness.

(Cymerman translation)

And the next day:

Monday, Qorah: I went to the Synagogue in great pain. And they kept on begging me to take a doctor; I had declined [till now] for various reasons. [But now] there had come from Livorno S. Moses Cohen, grandson of Hakham Rabbi Eliezer Ha-Cohen. He showed me his family genealogy - attested to by the old rabbis of Aram Tsovah [=Lebanon], and among whose archives it was found - going back to OMR Samuel Ha-Cohen of the Beth Din of the RaSHBA in Barcelona: and this doctor gave me a medicine three times and the vomiting ceased. On that same day, the g’vir S. Hakham Rabbi Samuel Hai Cohen came from Mantua to visit me and he invited me to his house in Mantua.

(Cymerman translation)

The next day:

Wednesday: the doctor gave me rabarbaro [= rhubarb] and the ‘exiting’ ceased. I ate [just] a little meat and toasted bread soaked in wine, ‘for the hand had failed’ and I had no strength. Later I went by Calesso to take a walk round the walls with my good friends the brothers [sic] S. Minervi and his grandsons ytv.

(Cymerman translation)

And finally:

Thursday: I went to the Synagogue and recited the benediction Hagomel [... who deals bountifully] etc.’ Praise t.L.f.H.i.g.f.H.k.e.f.e.

(Cymerman translation)

  • 1
    Sounds mildly life threatening to me. At least given contemporary medicine.
    – Double AA
    Jun 14, 2020 at 18:01
  • Even with modern medicine this sounds like something which would require hospitalization. Quite the nasty stomach bug. (As an aside, I don’t know why I find it so fascinating that the Chida kept a diary.)
    – DonielF
    Jun 14, 2020 at 19:12
  • @DonielF I’m certainly no medical expert, but to me it sounds like a stomach virus that bothers you for a couple of days and then goes away. Though as DoubleAA points out it would have probably been more serious 250 years ago. (As to why you find it fascinating that the Chida kept a diary, I would imagine it has something to do with it not being a typical rabbinic activity, and it gives you a perspective of the “human” side of the great rabbis that can’t be easily found elsewhere.)
    – Alex
    Jun 14, 2020 at 19:17
  • What's the mysterious secret?
    – Heshy
    Jun 14, 2020 at 20:47
  • @Heshy Probably a reference to the previous entry: I went to the noble S. Moses Ha’im; and we sat discussing how to settle between him and the holy congregation, in utmost secrecy.
    – Alex
    Jun 14, 2020 at 20:56

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