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August 30, 2016 / 26 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘air’

Q & A: HaGomel And Air Travel (Part IX)

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Question: I am very appreciative and, if I might add, flattered that you answer and publish many of my questions. Due to your superior knowledge, I am always confident when I send in a question that I will receive a proper response. I wonder if you could address whether one should say Birkat HaGomel after flying even though flying is statistically safer than driving. Also, do women say HaGomel as well or only men?

Menachem

 

The Talmud (Berachot 54b) states that there are four people who must say HaGomel, with the Rivash and Rav Gershon disputing whether this list is exclusive or not. Rabbi Tuvia Goldstein maintains that modern-day air travel cannot be compared to the types of danger listed in the Gemara, and thus one need not say HaGomel after flying. Rav Moshe Feinstein, however, argues that flying is inherently dangerous since only the airplane separates the passengers from death. If the airplane suddenly stops functioning, the passengers will almost certainly die.

We cited HaRav Yaakov Simcha Cohen who compares HaGomel to Dayan Ha’Emet. Just like we don’t say Amen in response to Dayan Ha’Emet (since we don’t wish to hear more bad news, explains HaRav Henkin), we don’t say Amen to HaGomel. Rather, we say “Mi shegemalcha…” Last week we noted Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s view that when reciting this blessing a person should not say “kol tuv – every good,” implying that he has received all his benefit.

* * * * *

In Pitkei Rabeinu Ha’Ktav Sofer (authored by Rabbi Avraham Yechiel Segal Deutsch, Berachot, ot 21, p.32), we find the view of Rabbi Avraham Binyamin Shmuel Sofer, zt”l, rav of Pressburg, Hungary: “Not only should a person have in mind when reciting HaGomel that he has been bestowed a kindness in having been delivered from danger; he should also bear in mind that the actual pain and suffering he experienced is also reason to say this blessing because suffering in this world is in itself a good.”

Upon seeing the words of this gaon, I immediately thought of two selections in the Talmud, one in Berachot (5a) and the other in Sanhedrin (101a). Baruch Shekivanti, – blessed is He who directed my thoughts to those of this great gaon. We find the following in the responsa of the Ktav Sofer (Orach Chayyim 27):

Let me share with you what I said to the congregation on Shabbat when Hashem granted me the merit to say Birkat HaGomel b’rov am hadrat melech (in the presence of the multitude is the majesty of the King). I brought my offering of thanks as I explained the following Gemara (Sanhedrin 101a):

When the sage R’ Eliezer took sick [before his death], his disciples entered to visit him. Referring to his personal suffering, he said to them: “There is fierce wrath in the world.” They all broke into tears, save for Rabbi Akiva, who was laughing. They asked him, “Why do you laugh?” He retorted, “Why do you weep?” Referring to their great teacher, they responded, “Shall the great Torah scroll lie in pain and we not weep?’”

Rabbi Akiva replied: “It is for this very reason that I rejoice. As long as I saw that my master’s wine had not turned, his flax had not been smitten, his oil had not putrefied, and his honey had not become rancid, I thought, Heaven forbid, that my master received all his reward in this world [with nothing left for the world to come], but now that I see him in pain, I rejoice [knowing that reward awaits him in the next world].

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Iran lets Russian Bombers Use Its Air Base for Strikes Against ISIS

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, announced Tuesday that Iran is letting Russia use its infrastructure to fight against terrorism in Syria, IRNA reported.

According to TASS, citing a Russian Defense Ministry report, “Long-range bombers Tupolev-22M3 and frontline bombers Sukhoi-34 took off from the Hamadan air base in Iran carrying the full bomb load to deal a massive air strike against facilities of the terrorist groups Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra in Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor and Idlib provinces.”

The bombers destroyed five large armament depots, three command posts and militants’ training camps used by terrorists for operations in Aleppo, the report said.

The report added that Russia’s Sukhoi-30SM and Sukhoi-35 from the Hmeymim base in Syria provided protection, and “all planes coped with their tasks and returned to base.”

This is the first time Russian planes have used an Iranian airfield for the operation in Syria. On all previous occasions Russia’s long-range bombers operated from airfields in Russia, and front-line bombers flew out of Hmeymim in Syria.

JNi.Media

Q & A: HaGomel And Air Travel (Part VIII)

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Question: I am very appreciative and, if I might add, flattered that you answer and publish many of my questions. Due to your superior knowledge, I am always confident when I send in a question that I will receive a proper response. I wonder if you could address whether one should say Birkat HaGomel after flying even though flying is statistically safer than driving. Also, do women say HaGomel as well or only men?

Menachem

 

The Talmud (Berachot 54b) states that there are four people who must say HaGomel, with the Rivash and Rav Gershon disputing whether this list is exclusive or not. Rabbi Tuvia Goldstein maintains that modern-day air travel cannot be compared to the types of danger listed in the Gemara, and thus one need not say HaGomel after flying. Rav Moshe Feinstein, however, argues that flying is inherently dangerous since only the airplane separates the passengers from death. If the airplane suddenly stops functioning, the passengers will almost certainly die.

Last week we cited HaRav Yaakov Simcha Cohen who, in “Prayer The Right Way,” compares HaGomel to Dayan Ha’Emet. Just like we don’t say Amen in response to Dayan Ha’Emet (since we don’t wish to hear more bad news, explains HaRav Henkin), we don’t say Amen to HaGomel. Rather, we say “Mi shegemalcha…”

* * * * *

The text of the berachah of HaGomel is: “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu melech ha’olam hagomel l’chayavim tovot she’gmalani kol tov – Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, king of the universe, who bestows kindness upon the culpable, for He has bestowed good to me.” The literal translation of the last words is “for He has bestowed every good to me.” I replaced “ever good” with “good” because of V’aleihu Lo Yibol, a sefer by HaRav Nachum Stepansky on the halachot and minhagim of his revered teacher, HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l.

In Halacha 151, corresponding to Orach Chayyim 219:2, he writes as follows: “It was Shabbos Parshat Yitro 5751 [1991] when after suffering a fall that left a gash in his head that required stitches, [Rav Auerbach] said HaGomel with the following altered the text of this blessing: ‘Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu melech ha’olam hagomel l’chayavim tovot she’gmalani tov – Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, king of the universe, who bestows kindness upon the culpable, for He has bestowed good to me.” Noticing this, I asked him: Did you deliberately say ‘she’gmalani tov – for He has bestowed good to me’ as opposed to what the Mechaber’s version of ‘she’gmalani kol tov – for He has bestowed every good to me’?”

He answered: “The text in the Mechaber is ‘she’gmalani kol tov – for He has bestowed every good to me.’ However, it does not make sense – for can it be that for this one kindness that Hashem has bestowed to a person, He has already bestowed every good to that person? Nonetheless, I always recited the Mechaber’s text until I found in the siddur of Chabad and the Ari, z”l, the text ‘she’gmalani tov – for He has bestowed good to me,’ to which the congregation responds ‘Mi she’g’malcha kol tov Hu yigmolcha kol tuv selah – May He who has bestowed every beneficence upon you always bestow every beneficence upon you.’ So now I use this text for perhaps some sort of error crept into the Mechaber’s text.”

HaRav Nachum Stepansky commented to HaRav Auerbach: “I have somewhat of a support for the Rav’s custom of following the custom of Chabad to say ‘she’gmalani tov’ from the words of Levush (to Orach Chayim 219:2) who uses the text of “she’gmalani kol tov” in the blessing but changes the congregation’s response to “Mi she’g’malcha tov Hu yigmolcha kol tuv selah – May He who has bestowed beneficence upon you always bestow every beneficence upon you.” (They thus are acknowledging that he has not received all benefit, but wish that he does receive it.)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Q & A: HaGomel And Air Travel (Part VII)

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Question: I am very appreciative and, if I might add, flattered that you answer and publish many of my questions. Due to your superior knowledge, I am always confident when I send in a question that I will receive a proper response. I wonder if you could address whether one should say Birkat HaGomel after flying even though flying is statistically safer than driving. Also, do women say HaGomel as well or only men?

Menachem

 

The Talmud (Berachot 54b) states that there are four people who must say HaGomel, with the Rivash and Rav Gershon disputing whether this list is exclusive or not. Rabbi Tuvia Goldstein maintains that modern-day air travel cannot be compared to the types of danger listed in the Gemara, and thus one need not say HaGomel after flying. Rav Moshe Feinstein, however, argues that flying is inherently dangerous since only the airplane separates the passengers from death. If the airplane suddenly stops functioning, the passengers will almost certainly die. Last week we focused on the text of the blessing of HaGomel and the congregation’s unusual response to it.

* * * * *

The question arises: Why don’t we just say Amen after HaGomel as we do after every other berachah? (The response of “Mi shegemalcha…” is not found in the Talmud. It is first noted by the Rambam [Hilchot Berachot 10:8] and codified by the Shulchan Aruch [Orach Chayim 219:2].) My late dear friend and colleague, HaRav Yaakov Simcha Cohen zt”l, discusses this question in his Prayer the Right Way (Urim Press).

He writes that a halachic decision from HaGaon HaRav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, zt”l (Teshuvot Ivra, siman 5), on saying amen after the berachah of Dayan HaEmet sheds light on the matter. Rav Henkin contends that we don’t say Amen after hearing this berachah because it is not advisable to say Amen in response to something bad. Although the Talmud obligates us to bless G-d for both the good and the bad (Megillah 25a), this does not mean, says Rabbi Henkin, that we should respond to hearing bad news by saying Amen.

What does Amen actually mean? Rabbi Henkin contends that when a person says Amen, he is essentially saying: “So shall it be in the future.” Since no one desires or wishes a mournful or tragic experience to occur in the future, we do not say Amen in response to Dayan HaEmet.

This line of argument may also explain why we say “Mi shegemalcha” in response to the berachah of HaGomel. This berachah is recited to express appreciation and thanksgiving to Hashem for delivering one from danger. Since no one desires to live through more dangerous experiences, it perhaps is inappropriate to say Amen. We therefore say “Mi shegemalcha” instead.

In addition, the Gemara states (Berachot 53b), “Gadol ha’oneh amen yoter min hamevarech – Greater is the reward for the person who says Amen than for the person who says the berachah.” If people said Amen after HaGomel, they would, in a sense, be saying that they have more gratitude to Hashem than the person who survived the dangerous experience. Since this sentiment would be a strange one to express, our sages decided that we should say “Mi shegemalcha” instead.

It’s true that some people say Amen before saying Mi shegemalcha,” but the Piskei She’arim (siman 24), commentary of the Sh’ar Efraim (sha’ar 4, halacha 30), notes that the Shulchan Aruch and the overwhelming majority of rabbanim do not obligate one to say Amen prior to saying “Mi shegemalcha.” Apparently “Mi shegemalcha” should be said in lieu of Amen, not in addition to it.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

46 Dead as Egyptian Air Force Strikes ISIS in Northern Sinai

Monday, August 1st, 2016

The Egyptian Air Force attacked a Da’esh terrorist installation in northern Sinai on Sunday, where Egyptian intelligence reported a large number of ISIS operatives were gathered.

Egyptian government forces targeted a weapons plant where security officials said explosives were being manufactured by the terrorist organization.

At least 46 armed men were reportedly killed in the air strike, according to Sky News.

Hana Levi Julian

Q & A: HaGomel And Air Travel (Part VI)

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Question: I am very appreciative and, if I might add, flattered that you answer and publish many of my questions. Due to your superior knowledge, I am always confident when I send in a question that I will receive a proper response. I wonder if you could address whether one should say Birkat HaGomel after flying even though flying is statistically safer than driving. Also, do women say HaGomel as well or only men?

Menachem

 

Summary of our response up to this point: The Talmud (Berachot 54b) states that there are four people who must say HaGomel, with the Rivash and Rav Gershon disputing whether this list is exclusive or not. Rabbi Tuvia Goldstein maintains that modern-day air travel cannot be compared to the types of danger listed in the Gemara, and thus one need not say HaGomel after flying. Indeed, the Talmud (Shabbos 32a) prohibits a person from putting himself in a dangerous situation. The fact that all frum Jews regularly fly is proof, therefore, that flying is not dangerous.

Rav Moshe Feinstein, however, argues that flying is inherently dangerous since only the airplane separates the passengers from death. If the airplane suddenly stops functioning, the passengers will almost certainly die. If flying is dangerous, though, why doesn’t Rav Feinstein prohibit people from engaging in this activity? Perhaps he maintains (like the Noda BiYehuda who discusses the permissibility of hunting) that a person may put his life in danger if his livelihood depends on it and flying nowadays is essential for many people’s jobs.

* * * * *

Let us now turn to the text of the blessing of HaGomel: “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu melech ha’olam hagomel l’chayyavim tovot she’gmalani kol tov – Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who bestows kindness upon the culpable, for He has bestowed goodness to me.” Everyone hearing this blessing responds, “Mi she’gmalcha kol tov Hu yigmolcha kol tuv selah – May He who has bestowed beneficence upon you always bestow every beneficence upon you.”

Generally, we respond Amen to a blessing. The source for this practice is found in the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 215:2) based on the Gemara (Yoma 37a). The Gemara cites Deuteronomy 32:3, “Ki Sheim Hashem ekra havu godel lei’Lokeynu – When I call out the Name of G-d, ascribe greatness to our G-d,” and explains that Moses said to the Children of Israel, “When I call out the Name of G-d, you are to ascribe greatness to our G-d.” The Chafetz Chaim (Mishnah Berurah op. cit. sk8) understands this to mean saying Amen.

Why, then, do people offer a special response to the blessing of HaGomel? Why not just respond by saying Amen? Indeed, some people even skip saying Amen and go straight to “Mi she’g’malcha kol tov…” The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, zt”l) was very critical of those who do this. He writes (Igrot Kodesh vol. 4, page 260), “I have previously protested and continue to protest this strange custom – that those who hear the ha’gomel blessing do not answer Amen but go straight to the above response.” In its siddur ArtScroll adds the word Amen before “Mi she’g’malcha kol tov…,” but I’ve noticed that many people do not say Amen first.

Now, in truth, it is the Mishnah Berurah who adds the word “Amen” to the Gemara passage quoted above. The Gemara itself doesn’t mention it in its explanation of the exchange between Moses and the children of Israel. Perhaps, then, this passage in the Gemara merely teaches us is that every blessing requires a response from those who hear it. Usually, Amen is the proper response. For HaGomel, however, perhaps a different response is appropriate.

Interestingly, the actual text of HaGomel can change if one says it on behalf of someone else (Mishnah Berurah, infra 219:17). One may say: “she’gamal l’ishtishe’gamal l’avishe’gamal l’rabi – who has bestowed upon my wife… my father… my teacher…”

    (To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Q & A: HaGomel And Air Travel (Part V)

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Question: I am very appreciative and, if I might add, flattered that you answer and publish many of my questions. Due to your superior knowledge, I am always confident when I send in a question that I will receive a proper response. I wonder if you could address whether one should say Birkat HaGomel after flying even though flying is statistically safer than driving. Also, do women say HaGomel as well or only men?

Menachem

 

    Summary of our response up to this point: Summary of our response up to this point: The Talmud (Berachot 54b) states that there are four people who must say HaGomel, with the Rivash and Rav Gershon dispurting whether this list is exclusive or not. Rabbi Tuvia Goldstein maintains that modern-day air travel cannot be compared to the types of danger listed in the Gemara, and thus one need not say HaGomel after flying. Indeed, the Talmud (Shabbos 32a) prohibits a person from putting himself in a dangerous situation. The fact that all frum Jews regularly fly is proof, therefore, that flying is not dangerous.

Rav Moshe Feinstein, however, argues that flying is inherently dangerous since only the airplane separates the passengers from death. If the airplane suddenly stops functioning, the passengers will almost certainly die. If flying is dangerous, though, why doesn’t Rav Feinstein prohibit people from flying?

* * * * *

In his notes, Rabbi Tuvia Goldstein cites the Gaon Rabbi Yechezkel Landau (Responsa Noda Bi’Yehuda, Vol. II:10) who was asked about a rich man who owned vast estates – including forests inhabited by many different wild beasts – and wished to hunt in his property.

After much discussion Rabbi Landau writes: “And now I say that there is even a prohibition to hunt because all who engage in this activity are required to enter forests, thus exposing themselves to all sorts of danger in a place inhabited by many wild beasts. The Torah (Deuteronomy 4:15) states, ‘V’nishmartem me’od l’nafshoteichem – You shall greatly beware of your souls’ [i.e., a person is not allowed to endanger himself]. And do we find a person more skilled and expert at the craft of hunting than Esau as Scripture (Genesis 25:27) testifies: ‘vayehi Esav ish yode’a tzayid – and Esau became a cunning hunter’? Now let us see what he declares about himself (infra 25:32): ‘Vayomer Esav, hineh anochi holech lamut – Esau said: Behold I am going to die.’ A verse does not depart from its simple explanation; the Ramban explains that Esau felt his death was inevitable due to the dangers he encountered on a daily basis while engaged in hunting in a place swarming with wild beasts.”

Rabbi Landau continues: “Now how can he, a Jew, place himself in a place swarming with untamed beasts of wild disposition? Nonetheless, there is an exception if one is poor and hunts for his sustenance and livelihood. An example is someone engaged in overseas commerce who must travel the seas; he may do so because it is for the purpose of sustenance and livelihood and there is no other choice. The Torah (Deuteronomy 24:15) states: ‘v’eilav hu noseh et nafsho – and his life depends on it’ Our sages (Bava Metzia 111a) said in this regard: ‘Why did this one [the laborer] risk going up the ladder and risk death if not that you should pay his wages?’”

He continues: “However, a person who engages in such activity without the intention of earning his livelihood, but rather out of desire [to engage in sport]…is in violation of the Torah’s prohibition ‘V’nishmartem me’od l’nafshoteichem – You shall greatly beware of your souls.’”

Rav Landau also cites the Rambam (Hilchot Rotze’ach u’Shmirat Nefesh 12:6): “It is also forbidden for a person to pass under a leaning wall, a shaky bridge, or a ruins and all similar dangerous situations.”

Based on the above, a person may engage in a dangerous activity for the purpose of his livelihood. In today’s world, where our communities are spread far and wide, how would one travel any distance without resorting to flying? Rabbi Feinstein might therefore be of the view that although air travel is dangerous one may fly because one doesn’t really have much of a choice.

The only question left to address is why people only say HaGomel after flying overseas if Rav Feinsein rules that one should say HaGomel after every flight, even one that only goes over land.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-hagomel-and-air-travel-part-v/2016/07/21/

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