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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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

Thursday, October 6th, 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. 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…” We also 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. We noted the view of the Ktav Sofer that when reciting the blessing a person should have in mind two things: 1) that Hashem delivered him from danger and 2) that he experienced pain and suffering since suffering in this world is itself a good.

The Shulchan Aruch states that a person can discharge another’s obligation to say HaGomel. In fact, both the Aruch Hashulchan and the Mishnah Berurah argue that it is better for a husband to say HaGomel for his wife than for her to say it herself.

* * * * *

The Gaon Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt”l (Igrot Moshe, vol. 8 Orach Chayim 14), discusses the obligation of women to say HaGomel. He maintains that in theory there should be no difference between men and women regarding saying HaGomel. (He cites the Mechaber, Orach Chayim 219 that we cited earlier and the Magen Avraham sk 1.)

However, our sages instituted that HaGomel should be said before a minyan upon getting an aliyah to the Torah. (The same is true of the berachah of Baruch Shepatrani that a father says upon the bar mitzvah of his son.) Thus, women don’t say HaGomel because we don’t give them aliyos.

(This responsum was the last Rav Feinstein wrote, at least partially. A note advises that part of it was delivered orally.)

He adds that we do not do as the Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 219:3) states – that the woman should say HaGomel before a minyan or before 10 women and one man – since a minyan of 10 women is meaningless. She can just say it before one person, a man or a woman. If she is married, she can say it before her husband.

The Gaon Rabbi Moshe Stern, the Debrecener Rav, zt”l (Ba’er Moshe, vol. 8:120) was once asked about the practice of gathering a minyan in the house of a yoledet (a woman who gave birth) for her to say HaGomel.

He answered that presumably this practice started because the woman was too weak to go to shul. He writes, though, that this practice is no longer the prevailing minhag. He also argues that the minyan does not gather so as to allow the woman to go out to the market place. The first time she should go out, he writes, is for a dvar mitzvah, such as going to shul to respond to Barchu or Kedushah or to say “Amen, yehei shmei rabbah…,” thus giving praise to Hashem who helped her successfully give birth in a good hour and in good health.

Rav Stern writes that there is a dispute among later authorities as to whether a woman says HaGomel in the women’s section of shul with the men responding Amen. Therefore, some have the custom to gather a minyan at the woman’s home for Maariv so that she can say HaGomel in an adjacent room. He writes that doing so is not our practice and a woman does not say HaGomel at all.

He explains that at least in the instance of a yoledet there are numerous reasons why she need not say HaGomel. For example, it is the nature of the world that women give birth and therefore it is impossible to say, “…hagomel l’chayavim – …who bestows kindness upon the culpable” for she is fulfilling Hashem’s commandment. Rav Stern writes that “we’ve never heard” of a man saying HaGomel on behalf of his wife. (He cites the Mishnah Berurah who clearly maintains that a husband can say HaGomel on her behalf, but it seems that he dismisses this view, as does Rav Feinstein.)

Rav Stern offers what he considers to be a practical approach that satisfies all views; he advises that it be publicized. The woman should go to shul, he writes, and when her husband is called to the Torah for an aliyah, he should concentrate when he says, “Barechu et Hashem ha’mevorach – Blessed is Hashem, the blessed one,” and have in mind to give thanks to Hashem for his wife giving birth b’sh’ah tova u’mutzlachat. His wife should then respond Amen. He notes that the same should be done when a woman recovers from a serious illness.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport Braces for 30,000 Travelers to Uman

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Israel Airport Authorities and workers at Ben Gurion International Airport are bracing themselves for the onslaught this week when 160 flights will depart to Uman, in Ukraine.

Some 30,000 travelers are flying to the grave site of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov on what is for many an annual pilgrimage on Jewish high holy days, arriving at the tomb of the 19th century Chassidic rebbe just before Rosh Hashana, the holiday on which he deemed it most important for his Chassidim to gather with him during his lifetime.

Rebbe Nachman, who lived from 1772 to 1810, was a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. He combined mystical teachings of Kabbalah with Torah scholarship in his teachings of the thousands of followers who were attracted to his movement, which was not dynastic, and not a traditional Chassidic court.

The concept of God taught by Rebbe Nachman, that one could speak to Him as a “best friend,” that He is someone with whom anyone could connect on the simplest of levels, made the Divine completely accessible, and God easily approachable to those who felt alienated by religion. To this day, the Breslov movement remains vibrant and continues to attract new followers.

Rebbe Nachman visited Israel from 1798 to 1799, spending time in Haifa, Tverya (Tiberias) and Tzefat.

In Israel, travelers to Uman are being asked to arrive at the airport four hours ahead of schedule in order to ease the processing due to the massive crowds that are expected.

Registration processing and passport control will take place both in Terminal 1 and in Terminal 3. Some 1.7 million travelers are expected to pass through the airport during this holiday season — about eight percent more than the number of travelers seen last year, officials said.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel Railways Back on Track

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Israel Railways was back on track Sunday night, with full service fully restored by the end of a very long day for Israeli commuters and IDF soldiers.

Maintenance work that began on Saturday night and continued through the daylight hours on Sunday kept thousands of people off the rails and instead packed into buses and private vehicles.

An estimated 150,000 travelers were affected by the scheduled infrastructure work.

Jewish Press News Briefs

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

Thursday, September 1st, 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

There is much discussion among the authorities regarding women reciting HaGomel. The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 219:4-5) writes, “If another person [other than the one who was saved] said, ‘Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu melech ha’olam ha’gomel l’chayyavim tovot she’gmalani kol tov’ and the one who was saved responded by saying Amen, the latter has discharged his obligation. Also, if the first person said [in Aramaic], ‘Brich rachmana malka d’olmah d’yahavoch lan…’ and the other responded by saying Amen, the latter has discharged his obligation.”

The Rema (ad loc.) notes: “And this is not a blessing recited in vain, even if he personally had no obligation to recite it, since he only recited it in a manner of praise and thanks for the goodness bestowed upon his fellow which brought him joy [as well].”

The Mechaber continues: “If another said HaGomel for his own personal [deliverance] and had in mind to discharge the obligation of his fellow, and the other listened and he [too] had in mind that his obligation be discharged, it is discharged even if he did not respond by saying Amen. The Rema, citing the Tur, explains that Amen is not necessary in this case since the first person also had an obligation to say HaGomel.

The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc sk 17 sv “al tovat chaveiro”), commenting on the Rema’s words “he only recited it in a manner of praise and thanks for the goodness bestowed upon his fellow which brought him joy,” explains that certainly a person may say HaGomel for his wife because she is like him (“ishto k’gufo – one’s wife is like one’s own body”). That is why, he writes, some men have the custom of saying HaGomel after their wives give birth (and return to their healthy state). By doing so, they discharge their wives obligation to thank Hashem.

The Mishnah Berurah notes that when men say HaGomel for their wives, they should say “…ha’gomel l’chayyavim tovot she’gmaleich kol tov – …for He has bestowed every good upon you.” He notes as well that if the wife isn’t present, her husband should say, “…she’gamal l’ishti kol tov – …for He has bestowed every good to my wife.” The Aruch Hashulchan’s words very much mirror those of the Mishnah Berurah.

The Shulchan Aruch HaRav (in his Piskei HaSiddur, Birkat Ha’Nehenin, at the end of the first volume, 12:9) citing the view of Ma’amar Mordechai, is of a different opinion. He states that if a person is truly happy that his fellow was saved (and a husband naturally is), he does not say a different version of the blessing. Rather, he says the standard “she’gmalani kol tov – for He has bestowed every good to me.”

It is obvious from both the Aruch Hashulchan and Mishnah Berurah that it is preferable for a husband to say HaGomel and for his wife to respond since, as we mentioned at the outset, the blessing should be recited in a synagogue in the presence of 10 men at the reading of the Torah.

Kaf Hachayim (Orach Chayim 219:3) notes: “As such the authorities considered it immodest for a woman to ascend the bimah for the Torah reading and recite the blessing. Rather it is best that they enter the women’s section of the synagogue and say it with the men responding, or at least before one man according to those authorities who maintain that saying HaGomel with less than 10 men present is acceptable.”

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

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

Thursday, August 25th, 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…” We also 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. Last week we noted the view of the Ktav Sofer that when reciting the blessing a person should have in mind two things: 1) that Hashem delivered him from danger and 2) that he experienced pain and suffering since suffering in this world is itself a good.

* * * * *

The Ktav Sofer (Responsa, Orach Chayim 27) cites Berachot (5a): Raba (some say, R. Chisda) said, “If a man sees that painful sufferings visit him, let him examine his conduct since it says (Lamentations 3:40): ‘Nachpesa derocheinu v’nachkorah v’noshuvahad Hashem – Let us search and try our ways, and return to Hashem.’ If he examines it and finds nothing objectionable, let him attribute the suffering to the neglect of Torah study since it says (Psalms 94:12): ‘Ashrei hagever asher t’yasrenu Kah, u’mi’Toras’cha telamdenu – Praiseworthy is the man whom Hashem has chastened and whom You teach Your Torah.’ If even here he finds no cause, he can be sure that these are yesurim shel ahavah – chastenings of love. For it says (Proverbs 3:12): ‘Ki et asher ye’ehav Hashem yochiach – For Hashem admonishes the one He loves.’” Rashi explains that Hashem causes him to suffer in this world in order to increase his reward in the world to come.

The Ktav Sofer sees Rashi’s explanation as far-fetched and offers a different one. He cites Shabbos 31a: “When one is brought in [before the Heavenly court] for his final judgment, he is asked: ‘Have you dealt faithfully? Did you fix times for studying Torah?…’” Why is the question “Have you dealt faithfully?” – a question which concerns behavior between man and his fellow – the very first a person is asked?

The Ktav Sofer suggests that it relates to many mitzvot since a person does not discharge his obligation via a mitzvah ha’ba’ah b’aveirah – a mitzvah that one accomplished by means of a transgression (e.g., a stolen lulav). “Ki Ani Hashem oheiv mishpat sonei gazel b’olah – For I am Hashem who loves justice and hates a burnt offering brought with robbery,” says the prophet Isaiah (61:8). The Gemara says (Bava Kamma 94a), “If a person stole a se’ah of wheat, kneaded it and baked it, and set aside a portion as challah, how can he make a blessing? It would not be a blessing but blasphemy.”

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

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

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

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