Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Is it necessary to say “Baruch Hashem” or “Thank G-d”
every time someone asks you how you are?

 

Rabbi Marc D. Angel
Advertisement



It is not necessary, but it surely is a nice practice if said sincerely.

I remember my late grandfather, Marco Romey, of blessed memory, who often used the Ladino phrase “Bendicho el Dio” (Blessed be the Almighty). Whenever he said these words, he said them solemnly as a prayer. He felt G-d’s presence in all that he did; it was natural for him to bless G-d on many occasions, including when people asked him how he was.

So, if one sincerely feels the presence of the Almighty, one should say “Baruch Hashem” or its equivalent in other languages – not because it is a social obligation, but because it is a heartfelt prayer. It is a reflection of one’s commitment to “Shiviti Hashem lenegdi tamid – I place God before me at all times.”

But one who is accustomed to saying “Baruch Hashem” must also realize that this practice gives the impression that one is indeed pious and conscious of G-d’s presence. Thus, one who frequently says “Baruch Hashem” should be conspicuous for proper behavior, good manners, and decent language. Otherwise, he/she will appear to be hypocritical, posing as a religious person who praises G-d but acting in ways that belie that pose.

By all means, say “Baruch Hashem” when someone asks how you are. But say it with kavanah, as a prayer, as a commitment to truly live one’s live in the presence of the Almighty.

— Rabbi Marc D. Angel, director of the
Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals
 

* * * * * 

Rabbi Ben Zion Shafier

I don’t know of any obligation to say those words, but I do know of a very real obligation upon a Jew to both believe and feel them. Unfortunately, when we say certain expressions very often, they become so robotic that they lose the impact they were originally intended to have.

For that reason, what I personally do is change the words. I’ll either say “Baruch Hashem” in English or use a different type of expression so that it is meaningful. (It’s ironic, though, that when I use an expression like “If the good Lord allows it,” I get rather interesting looks from other Jews.)

So, to repeat: “Baruch Hashem” and “Thank G-d” are very good to say, but they need to remain fresh and they need to remain what they were intended to be – expressions that shape out beliefs and feelings.

— Rabbi Ben Zion Shafier, founder of The Shmuz

* * * * *

Rabbi Zev Leff

The Sefer HaChinuch writes that a person’s words and actions affect his beliefs and principles. Hence, when a person says “Baruch Hashem,” “G-d willing,” or “Thank G-d,” he is increasing his awareness of Hashem and Hashem’s goodness, presence, and divine will.

This is even more true if he thinks about what he’s saying. If, however, he says these phrases as rote mantras, they may have the opposite effect.

Whenever a person performs a mitzvah, he should ideally consider its significance, the ideas behind it, etc. According to halacha, a person is not considered to have fulfilled a biblical mitzvah if he performs it perfunctorily without intent to fulfill the mitzvah. According to all opinions, a person must at least pay attention to what he’s doing (this is true for any mitzvah).

For example, when fulfilling the mitzvah of lulav on Sukkos, he must at least know it’s Sukkos and that he’s holding a lulav. If not – if he’s oblivious to what he’s doing – he doesn’t fulfill the mitzvah at all.

Thus, saying phrases like “Baruch Hashem” and “Thank G-d” by rote without being aware at all of what one is saying is like fulfilling a mitzvah by habit and is a negative act. The navi actually castigates the Jewish people for observing mitzvos anashim milimudah (see Isaiah 29:13).

If a person, however, is conscious of the meaning of what he’s saying, it will have a positive effect on him and those that hear him – even if he doesn’t have any deep intentions.

— Rabbi Zev Leff, rav of Moshav Matisyahu,
popular lecturer and educator

* * * * *

Rabbi Yosef Blau

There is no required response to being asked “How are you?” In the vast majority of cases, it is not even meant to be taken literally. It is a form of greeting, and the person asking it isn’t expecting a serious response.

Saying “Baruch Hashem” reflects the halachic principle that one has to bless Hashem upon hearing bad news as well as upon hearing good news. (It isn’t an accurate application of it, though, because we actually say a different beracha over bad news than good news). Essentially, it is a nice way of expressing one’s appreciation for the gifts one has from Hashem – no matter how well or sick one is.

For some people and in some situations, saying “Baruch Hashem” can come across as artificial piety. Nonetheless, it is appropriate to say it when you mean it sincerely – even if there is no formal obligation to do so.

— Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani at YU’s
Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary
 

* * * * * 

Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet

The Torah records that Yosef was successful in Egypt. Chazal explain that no matter his circumstances, Yosef had the name of Hashem on his lips. However challenging life seemed to be, he found something to thank Hashem for. Thus, the Shechina rested upon him and he was successful.

According to the Midrash, when Yaakov masqueraded as his brother Esav as a ruse to take the blessings from his blind father, Yitzchak became suspicious on account of Yaakov repeatedly mentioning Hashem during their conversation – “the voice is the voice of Yaakov.”

The idea behind the custom of saying “Baruch Hashem” or “Thank G-d” is being cognizant of the Divine blessings in our lives even as we go about our daily routine. As Mishlei says: “Know Him in all your ways, and He will direct your paths.”

The Baal Shem Tov used to deliberately inquire ordinary Jews about their wellbeing in order to hear their simple but heartfelt expressions of thanks to Hashem. He used to describe thanking Hashem as “paying Him His dues,” or “giving Him His livelihood.”

Needless to say then, “Baruch Hashem” or “Thank G-d” should be said with meaning and awareness and over things that one has genuine reason to be grateful for.

— Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, popular Lubavitch lecturer,
rabbi of London’s Mill Hill Synagogue

Advertisement