(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) 1996-2000 Project Genesis

Re: Blessing On Water

Russell Hendel (rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu)
Wed, 19 Feb 1997 03:59:27 -0500

Mark Duman asks (Vo 3 #22):
<< I believe that one is NOT required to say a brocho (blessing) on water
that we drink to help swallow a medicine, and indeed that this is also
extended to the consumption of water when one is not actually thirsty (e.g
for hydration prior to intense exercise). If one of the concepts behind
reciting a brocho is to acknowledge that Hashem is the source of all such
good, why should the need to say this be negated when we don't actually
"need" the item. I hope this is clear ? Have an uplifting Shabbos...>>

The answer to this is simple. The purpose of Beracoth is NOT to go around
thinking about G-d CONSTANTLY. Rather the purpose of Berachoth is to
counteract the natural spontaneous "clutching" tendency when fulfilling a
physical urge. Here are some examples:

*You are thirsty...you are about to drink to quench your thirst..and then
you remember you must first say a Berachah *You are starving after say a
long walk..you are about to eat to satisfy your hunger when you
remember...beracha first *A beautiful rainbow appears in the sky...you
spontaneously turn away from what you are doing to gaze ...but beracha first

In other words when any spontaneous urge is about to take control of your
actions you deliberately interrupt it and first acknowledge that G-d made
this thing and only then indulge.

Now to answer Mark's question. If you are satisfying your thirst you must
say a Berachah first. But if the water is just to help you swallow some
medicine than that drink is not spontaneous to begin with and you need not
say a Berachah first.

Russell Jay Hendel, PH.d, ASA; RHendel @ MCS . Drexel . Edu