Prayer for Taking Medicine
I just began taking an antibiotic for a minor ailment. Is there anything religious I should be doing together with taking the medicine? It seems odd that we turn to doctors for our healing but not to God!
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
You are quite correct. For all of our needs in this world we should turn first and foremost to God. If anything, the fact that we go to doctors is surprising. If God controls everything in this world, clearly it was He who made us sick to begin with. And if so, shouldn’t we be turning to Him to get us better – to rescind His decree against us? What right do we have to seemingly circumvent His will and seek natural remedies for our ailments?
In fact, however, the Talmud (Bava Kama 85a) derives from “and he shall surely heal him” (Exodus 21:19) that we may go to doctors to treat our illnesses. We do not see this as flaunting God’s will but as using the very resources He placed in this world to make the world a better place.
Yet, we should never lose sight of the fact that ultimately it is God who heals us – whether directly or through the materials He placed in this world and put in the hands of modern medicine. Unfortunately, many people seem to put all their trust and effort into medical means – practically forgetting the God who created them – and only when all else fails do they open their Psalms and begin praying.
In fact, the Sages instituted a blessing to be said whenever we take medicine, in order to remind us that ultimately God is our Healer (Talmud Brachot 60a, Shulchan Aruch 230:4 and Mishna Berurah 6). Here is the text of the prayer, both in transliterated Hebrew and in English:
“Yehi ratzon milfanecha, Ado-nai Elo-hai, she’yehai eisek zeh li li’refuah ki rofai chinam atta.”
“May it be Your will, Lord my God, that this activity will bring healing to me, for You are the free Healer.”
I should add that if the medicine tastes good, it may also require a blessing, which should be said right after this prayer immediately before consuming it. For more details, see this response.