There are brachos for mitzvos, food, drink and even scents. But is there a bracha to be said before ingesting medicine? How about when taking a vaccine?
By Yehuda Shurpin – Chabad.org
There is a mitzvah (commandment) in the Torah to bless G‑d after eating sustaining food: “When you have eaten and are satiated, you shall bless G‑d.”
Based on this, the rabbis taught that “if G‑d wants us to thank Him after we have eaten, how much more so should we thank Him and say a blessing before we eat.” Thus, they instituted blessings to be said before eating and drinking as well.
By making a blessing we recognize and acknowledge that G‑d is the source of all sustenance, and that the earth and its bounty belong to Him. For more on the various blessings see here.
Despite the preponderance of blessings we say (it is laudable to say no less than 100 blessings each day), it is important to note that we may not compose our own blessings containing G‑d’s name. Rather, we follow the precedent and pattern established by the early sages, the Men of the Great Assembly.
Blessing on Food Before Ingesting Medicine
The blessings were only instituted to be said for food being eaten for ordinary purposes: pleasure and/or satiation. If, however, you are ingesting food for another purpose, such as medical, no blessing is said. If there is both a medical benefit as well as a common food-related benefit (such as taste or satiation), a blessing is said.
Thus the general guidelines are as follows:
- Flavorless medicine, such as pills that you swallow, do not require a blessing (see, however, below).
- If the medicine has a good taste, such as flavored, chewable pills for children, one should recite the Shehakol blessing.
(The same would apply to washing down a pill. No blessing is recited on water that you only drink to swallow the pill, but if you drink another beverage, which has an enjoyable taste, you do say the appropriate blessing.)
The Prayer for Medicine, Medical Procedures (and Vaccines)
Although one does not make the blessing over food before taking medicine, there is a special prayer we say expressing our wish that it should be efficacious:
יהי רצון שיהיה לרפואה
“May it be Your will that this [medicine] shall bring healing.”
This should also be said before undergoing any medical procedure, including getting a vaccine.
Through reciting this prayer we recognize that ultimately all healing comes from G‑d, and we pray that this medicine or procedure brings about the intended healing.
Let us conclude by wishing that all medications be fitting vessels, through which G‑d delivers healing and wellness, to the point that we can recite the Hagomel blessing, said after recovering from serious illness.
Reprinted with permission from Chabad.org