Jewish Laws

This week our Haftorah recounts the song King David sang when he was saved from all the battles and all his enemies. For our Jewish law segment this week, therefore, we will be doing a bit from Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Samech-Alef which is the chapter that outlines the blessing of HaGomel

Four folks need to make a special blessing of thanks to Hashem:

Those who go to sea, when they arrive at their destination;

So, too, anyone traversing a desert or any other dangerous way, when they get to their designation; and the same goes for anyone who found themselves in a dangerous spot and is saved, like when a wall caves in on a person, or an ox gores him or he is overtaken by highway men and he is saved.

Someone who was gravely ill (or bed-ridden for at least three days) and got better

Anyone who was in prison and was released from prison

The way we remember who has to say this blessing is via a memonic. There is a verse that reads “V’chol Hachayim Yoh’doocha Selah” Translated, the verse means, and all life [forces] will say thanks to You, G-d. However, if you read the word Chayim, the first letter is a Ches, which reminds us that the sick person who is healed has to thank G-d. The second letter is a Yud, that hints at Yam – that those who go to sea must thank G-d. The third letter is another Yud which begins the word Yeesurim – that those who suffered and were saved from their suffering must thank G-d. And the last letter of the word Chayim is a Mem which is for Midbar, to tell us that those who get through a desert journey intact must praise G-d.

This blessing has to be made in the presence of a full minyan (not including the person making the blessing). At least two of the ten ought to be Torah scholars.

When a miracle happens to a person, he should give Tzedakah to stand-in for the sacrifice of thanksgiving that was given in the times of the Temple. It is good and worthy to fix some communal project in his city (as a way of giving thanksgiving to Hashem). And when a miracle happened, on its anniversary each year, it is good to mark the day with praising and thanking Hashem and to be happy and say the story of the miracle that saved him.