By Rabbi Dovid Ostroff
Who is required to recite Birkas Hagomel?
A person who was in a dangerous predicament and escaped, is obligated to thank HKB”H, and chazal instituted Birkas Hagomel for this purpose.
A person who was dangerously ill should recite Hagomel upon recovery, even though several poskim write that one should recite Hagomel even if one was bedridden for more than three days. Nowadays the custom is to only recite Hagomel when one was dangerously ill (for even less than three days).
One who had surgery on internal organs such as fissures, hernias and eyes, will usually recite Hagomel. As usual a Rav should be asked. It is the accepted custom to recite Hagomel if a general anesthetic has been administered, regardless of the procedure it was administered for.
If bitten by a poisonous insect, snake or scorpion, one will recite Hagomel.
A person who had hepatitis and was bed ridden for many days, or suffered a heart attack or stroke, will recite Hagomel.
When does one recite this b’racha?
One recites the b’racha when one has fully recuperated. If one has overcome the danger entirely even though one must still administer medication and physical therapy, one will recite the b’racha.
What if chas v’shalom there might be a relapse?
It seems that one will not recite the b’racha until one is completely healed.
If a car narrowly misses hitting a person, or if someone is nearly involved in an accident, does one recite Hagomel?
One only recites Hagomel when one was in a dangerous situation and was saved. When a car narrowly misses, it is indeed something to thank Hashem profusely, but it is not cause for Hagomel, because after all, one was not in danger – the car missed.
If two cars narrowly miss each other, or if one swerves out of the way of another car, one will not recite Hagomel.
If however a car spun out of control, or if a car was hit by another car and one’s life was saved, even if the person did not suffer any injury, that person was in danger and must recite Hagomel.
One who travels through a dangerous place, such as the desert, a plane trip or over the seas, must recite Hagomel upon reaching dry land and at the culmination of the trip. If one makes a short stop-over (even lasting several days) between flights, one does not recite Hagomel until the entire journey is over.
Is it accepted by all to recite Hagomel after a plane trip?
Indeed there are various opinions on the matter. There are those that require one to recite the b’racha, and others differentiate between whether the plane flew over water or land, while others say that one does not recite the b’racha. In all cases one should ask one’s Rav, although the prevalent custom is that one does recite Hagomel.
How long after the trip does one have to recite Hagomel?
Preferably one should recite Hagomel within three days of emerging from danger, and this is even if one will forgo reciting the b’racha before a sefer Torah, as is the custom. One may recite the b’racha long after three days, but if an extended time has elapsed and one has basically forgotten the danger, one does not recite the b’racha.
Where must this b’racha be recited?
One recites the b’racha before ten males, based on the possuk – åéøåîîåäå á÷äì òí åáîåùá æ÷ðéí éäììåäå, where the first part of the possuk refers to 10 people and the second part refers to talmidei chachamim, so l’chatchila there should be two talmidei chachamim in the minyan (including the person reciting the b’racha).
Custom is to recite after reading the Torah, because a quorum is always present, but if one is not able to recite after reading the Torah, one should recite the bracha before a quorum wherever.
The Mishna Berura cites a source saying that if one has to wait thirty days to gather a quorum; one should not wait and recite it with even less than a quorum.