Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Parade of people Benching Gomel

Where I daven in Israel we always have people traveling back and forth to the US, either people on business, relatives visiting, etc. Therefore, every shabbos there is a parade of people coming up to bench gomel. I believe that this practice is wrong and is a bad thing. The idea of benching gomel is that we want to thank hashem for saving us from a dangerous situation. Nowadays, flying to the US is safer then driving to work. There is little or no danger and therefore most probably no חיוב to make the ברכה. In fact, IMHO this trivializes the whole thing. If you watch the people who make the ברכה you can see that there is no real emotion there, they are not really thanking hashem, this is understandable, nothing happened to them. What this does is desensitizes people to the idea and meaning of ברכת הגומל and makes the whole thing into a bit of a joke.

On a related topic, R' Shachter in נפש הרב says that the Rav did not say תפלת הדרך when he commuted from Boston to NY to say his shiurim because it was completely routine for him. He explained that תפלת הדרך is based on the idea of תפלה בעת צרה and therefore does not apply to a routine commute. This is not the opinion that is normally held, I heard a tape from R' Reisman who claimed that someone traveling from Monsey to Manhattan every day would say תפלת הדרך every day. The Rav's position on תפלת הדרך would seem to support my position above about ברכת הגומל.


Anonymous said...

Also the minhag now in most shuls in the US to say a perek tehillim after davening "for the matzav" is desensitizing people.

Alan said...

HaGaon Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Halichos Shlomo, ch. 23) considers flying on an
airplane a sakana (dangerous situation), and therefore one must always recite Birchas Hagomel
after flying (even if the plane did not fly over an ocean or desert). However, most poskim disagree
with this opinion, as statistics now show that it is more dangerous to drive in a car than fly on an
airplane. Using this line of reasoning, some poskim rule that one should never recite Birchas
Hagomel after a plane trip, even if the plane flew over an ocean or desert (HaRav Dovid Zucker,
shlita, quoting HaGaon Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l). HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Igros
Moshe O.C. Volume 2 Siman 59) agrees with HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach that one should
always recite Birchas Hagomel after any plane trip. However, his reasoning is different than HaRav
Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s. R’Moshe explains that just as Chazal require one who travels by sea
to recite Bircas Hagomel, regardless of whether his trip was a sakana or not, so too, any traveling
that is not done on secure, dry land, requires a Birchas Hagomel upon completing the journey.
Some poskim say that one should be machmir (strict), and taking all views into account, recite
Birchas Hagomel without the sheim v’malchus (name of Hashem). However, the most prevalent
minhag is to recite Bircas Hagomel with the sheim v’malchus upon flying over an ocean or desert.
If one did not fly over an ocean or desert, no beracha is recited at all. (Minchas Yitzchak Volume 2
Siman 47, HaRav Dovid Zucker, shlita, Harav Shmuel Fuerst, shlita).