Why Hasn’t Rav Elyashiv Bentched Gomel?


rav-yosef-shalom-elyashivRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv returned to his home at Rechov Chanan 10 in Meah Shearim last week following the successful surgery one week ago to repair a coronary artery near his heart.

The surgery, as reported extensively here on Matzav.com, was performed at Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center in Yerushalayim by Dr. Daniel Clair, Chairman of the Department of Vascular Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, who made the 5,700-mile trip from Newark Liberty International to Ben Gurion Airport to perform the procedure on Rav Elyashiv.

The question that some have been wondering is: Why hasn’t Rav Elyashiv bentched Gomel since the open heart surgery was performed?

In the past, when those undergoing surgery had posed a shailah to the posek hador regarding bentching Gomel afterwards, he paskened that they should wait one week to ensure that one has recovered sufficiently before saying the bracha of Hagomel lechayavim tovos shegemalani kol tov.

So, the question was, why, after a week has passed since the surgery, has Rav Elyashiv not said the bracha of Hagomel?

“I asked the doctor,” Rav Elyashiv told those in his household, “and they told me that at no point during the procedure, not before and not during the actual surgery, was there a slight threat to my life. For that reason, I have not bentched Gomel, which is only said after one has been in true danger.”

One of the people present wondered aloud, in light of Rav Elyashiv’s words, about having Yidden daven for the gadol‘s health and recovery.

To that Rav Elyashiv responded, “The tefillos of the public are not for naught, and Hakadosh Boruch Hu saves them for other cases, and here, right now, we see that we need these tefillos.”

Meanwhile, last night, Rav Elyashiv went to Tiferes Bachurim, the shul located adjacent to his house, to deliver his daily Gemara shiur for the first time since being released from the hospital last Tuesday.

All are asked to continue davening for Rav Yosef Shalom ben Chaya Musha.

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}


  1. That’s an interesting psak. I assume that R’ Elyashiv was put under anesthesia. For a man of his age, anesthesia is dangerous, and there is always a chance the patient won’t wake up.

    I had asked a shailah when I was a teenager and had my appendix removed. I was told that anytime someone undergoes full anesthesia, they need say birchas hagomel.

  2. Very interesting.

    The way I understand it, Klal Yisrael’s Tefilos were that the surgery should go well. There was no guarantee, before the fact, that it would.

  3. #1 Orthowatch
    You assume wrong – he had local anesthesia.

    #3 shlomo zalman
    Not obvious – bad conclusion. An overseas airplane trip goes under another catagory of chiuv birchas gomel. It’s called OV’RAI HA’YAM -crossing an ocean.

  4. TO #1 Orthowatch.blogspot.com

    Your comment is ridiculous.

    You seem to be questioning the Posek Hador because of a psak an unnamed somebody told you when you were a teenager!!

    And besides, as I understand it, The Lishkas Hagazis shlita was not put under general anesthesia. Dr. Clair did the procedure with local anesthesia only. Full anesthesia would have been too dangerous for someone this age.

  5. To #3: It is not obvious at all. Yoirdei Hayam is one of the 4 people mentioned in the Pasuk, that are obligated to give Hoidaah. Each one of them has its own conditions.

  6. #1,

    My understanding is that, due to the Rav’s advanced age, only local anesthesia was used, where the risk is minimal.

    What I’m wondering is: the surgery aside, the Rav’s illness was potentially life threatening. Shouldn’t recovery from such an illness warrant Birchas Hagomel?

  7. I wouldn’t assume that he had “full anesthesia.” I don’t know exactly what his procedure was, but many endovascular procedures are done with very minimal sedation, just like a cardiac catheterization. Especially in someone his age, it could easily be done with a single very small dose of versed (which is like valium) and perhaps a very small dose of pain medication.

  8. I also heard that it was local not general
    If a local anesthesia is enough then why isn’t it done that way even with younger people?

  9. It just so happens to be that the danger was much less because it wasnt full anesthesia so there is a smaller chance of sakanah there as not to bentch gomel

  10. One only says the Bracha of Gomel If he is in a situation of danger to his life. One does NOT do so if he faced a situation which could have LEAD to a life threatening situation. Reb Elyashiv Shlita was in a situation that was a POTENTIAL life threatening condition, but BH Reb Elyashiv Shlita was never in a status that would be considered life threatening. That is the reason behind the psak.
    What I don’t understand is what the question about Klal Yisroel davening was. Do we only daven after a tragedy strikes? Can’t we daven that tragedy shouldn’t even be a consideration?

  11. There are in fact many contemporary poskim who hold that one does not bentch gomel after a plane ride – even across an ocean. Speak with you Rov. Personally, my family does not bentch gomel for plane trips.

  12. I don’t understand a top heart specialist was brought in and they are doing a heart operation on a 101 year old man( ad meah vasrim ) and when we go on a plane we bentch gomel?