If one was sick with the flu (whether Coronavirus or some other serious illness) and was not in any immediate danger and the illness merely caused him to be bedridden, is one obligated to recite the ““Ha’Gomel”” blessing?
There are four types of people that must recite the ““Ha’Gomel”” blessing: 1)Sea travelers upon safely docking (or airplane passengers flying over the sea), 2) individuals traveling through the desert upon reaching an inhabited settlement, 3) a sick person who has recovered, and 4)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 travelers who have docked safely, Yisurim refers to the suffering experienced by a person who was ill and now healed, and Midbar refers to those traveling 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, there are multiple opinions as usual in our tradition.
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. Most Rabbis rule today say that any time you are put out with anesthesia, you have been dead and recovered and this requires saying the Gamel prayer.
The Meiri also says one 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 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.
How does this connect to Passover on Wednesday night? Besides so many people being sick with the Virus now, we read the Parsha of the week this last Saturday of Tzav. Most of us read it at home, because we could not o to the synagogue and in chapter seven, verse 12, the Torah says, “If for a thanksgiving he offer it, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes (matzos) mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, and fine flour soaked and made into cakes mingled with oil. In addition to the reference to the matzos, Rashi on the verse says the four kinds of bread refers to the four type of people who need to offer a Hagomel blessing and to the four cups of wine we drink when we have the Passover Seder, as we were saved in four ways when we went out of Egypt.
Not everyone recovers unfortunately:
A Golf Good Bye
Shimon and Reuven are playing golf one day at their local golf course. Shimon is about to chip onto the green when he sees a long funeral procession on the road next to the course.
He stops in mid-swing, closes his eyes, and bows his head in prayer.
Reuven says, “Wow, that is the most thoughtful and touching thing I have ever seen. Shimon, you truly are a kind man.”
To which Shimon replies, “Well we were married for 35 years.”