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Ask the Aish Rabbi a Question

Recent Questions:

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.

Blessing on Sex

I know about many of the blessings recited for various events and daily occurrences, but in all my studies, I have yet to find mention of a blessing for marital intimacy. We have a blessing for using the bathroom, for washing hands, for hearing bad news, etc., but what about something so wonderful as what God has created between a husband and wife?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

This is an interesting question. Here are four answers, none of which are found in the classical rabbinic writings. So take your pick:

1) There are no blessings for mitzvahs between one person and another - e.g. giving charity, visiting the sick, etc. If the mitzvah of marital relations is to give pleasure to the partner, then it would fit into this category and have no blessing.

2) Under the chuppah, we make the blessing asking God to "gladden the beloved couple, as you gladdened [Adam and Eve] in the Garden of Eden." This description of Adam and Eve in Eden in utopia would include the physical pleasures of their marriage.

3) The blessing that we recite after going to the washroom may cover all bodily functions, including sex.

4) A blessing must be recited immediately prior to the action. For example, you hold the fruit in your hand, make the blessing, and eat it right away. Also a person's hands need to be washed, and certain parts of the body must be covered. Therefore it would highly inconvenient for a couple to recite a blessing before intercourse.

Homewrecker

I have been seeing a married man for over a year now. He has been separated from his wife for four months and we see each other as much as possible. I have been separated from my husband for over a year and am in the process of filing for divorce.

My problem is that he is not ready to tell his wife he wants a divorce. I totally understand that, but he also says he doesn't want to lose me. He works a lot and hasn't taken his kids on vacation for the last two years. I just found out last night that he plans to take his family to Disney World while the kids are on Spring Break. His wife is going with him. He claims he just wants the kids to have a vacation, but I think it gives the wife the wrong idea. I also think he's doing it out of guilty feelings.

I am furious. I need some support. Help!

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

You are making two very big mistakes. One is moral the other is practical.

First of all, you are dating someone who has made a commitment of marriage to another person. By dating him you are assisting him in breaking that commitment.

The fact that they are separated does not mean that they are not married. First they have to get divorced. That means a civil divorce if they are not Jewish, and if they are Jewish they'll need a Jewish bill of divorce (a "get") as well.

You should insist that if he no longer wants to be married to his wife, then he should divorce her and then date you.

From a practical perspective you are making another mistake.

If he is serious about the divorce, then why doesn't he divorce her already?

If not, then why is he with you?

The problem is that he is not yet ready to make the move. Part of him may still hope his marriage can be saved. Part of him may want to ease the pain his wife and children will experience. Undoubtedly, there are other factors, too. No matter what his reason, the fact is that it may take some time for him to decide if and when to divorce, and right now you are caught in the middle.

In other words, you are letting him have the benefits of a physical relationship without a commitment.

It seems that you have two choices. Nagging him is not one of them, because that will be counter-productive.

However, it can help to discuss a timetable (we like that word better than "ultimatum," but that's really what it is). If he is not ready to discuss divorce with his wife by a reasonable point in time (perhaps a point that you both set), then you have to be prepared to move on without him.

I know of a case where a guy kept telling his girlfriend that he was getting divorced and it went on for years... until he finally just dumped her.

Alternatively, it could be the most effective way of dealing with this is to stop seeing him, and tell him to call you when/if he is divorced. After all, if he is still vacationing with his wife, then maybe their marriage is salvageable. Now looking at this objectively, wouldn't that be the most preferable situation? Perhaps your being in the picture is confusing to him, and leading him to break up a marriage?

I know this is a difficult period for you, and hope that you will soon have more clarity on this complex situation.