I mucked up with HaGomel

A few weeks ago I had a lucky if nor miraculous escape in a car accident. It didn’t involve any drivers or pedestrians. I had just turned the corner from outside our house, and was driving at about 30Kmh. The next thing I knew, I was bleeding and facing one of those big four-wheel drives with a huge external bumper bar parked on the opposite side of the road.

I couldn’t work out how I had gotten from one side of the road to the other and then head on into the parked car. You don’t want to hear the gory details (broken ankle in two places, ribs, sternum etc) but I worked out that my absent-mindedness with blood pressure tablets (a genetic predisposition which is fully in check) was responsible for me taking extra doses to the extent that my higher blood pressure reading was 80 at the time of the accident.

Anyway, I’m Baruch Hashem fine, relatively speaking and am thankful that this didn’t occur a few hundred meters down the road where I would have been on a main street.

There were no humans in the street after the accident, and I pulled my phone out, followed by calling my wife, Hatzola and the rest is history.

During the first two weeks I had this incredible itch to thank God for letting me survive such an ordeal. Finally on Thursday, I was able to get on my transport device and go to the Shule around the corner for Shachris to bench Gomel. My mind wasn’t quite right. I’d put on my Tefillin before my Tallis ๐Ÿ™‚ and hadn’t thought it through, but I had such thanks that I wanted to give, I felt compelled to go and Bench HaGomel.

The issue though is that HaGomel is pronounced (certainly for internal injuries) when a person is fully healed (seeย Mishna Berura Siman 219:1). The Steipler Gaon inย Orchos Rabbeinu, p 91, questions bone breakage as requiring HaGomel. My understanding is that he’s talking about a broken arm or leg from some “standard” style injury/fall that was never life threatening.

So what is the definition of fully healed. My ankle is in a cast, and all being well after 6 weeks if the bones knit well (it was the major bone) I imagine that they will put me in a moon boot or similar for another 6 weeks.

Am I “healed” once the cast is removed, with the rest being convalescence or am I not fully healed until I am walking around unaided by any device.

I asked Mori V’Rabbi R’ Hershel Schachter, who repliedย that one certainly does not make HaGomel until after the cast is removed. In respect of aย moon boot or any other device designed to repatriate, he said that there is no Hagdoro (delineation) and oneย should do so when theyย feel that recovered.

So, in my enthusiasm to thank God for what was really a private miracle, I think I overstepped the boundary and probably made a Brocho Levatolo unless there is some Rishon or Acharon who holds you may. If that’s my greatest sin, I’ll take it!

Interesting to note that when one says HaGomel, many people forget to say Amen, before they answer Mi Shegmalcha ย … Do you?

No need to wish me a Refuah Shelemah. I assume you do so ๐Ÿ™‚

I broke the TALUS

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

11 thoughts on “I mucked up with HaGomel”

  1. On the contrary, I think you did exactly right. The entire premise of your dilemma is incorrect. You are thinking in terms of ื—ื•ืœื” ื•ื ืชืจืคื, and therefore since you have not yet had a complete ืจืคื•ืื” you worry that you jumped the gun. But that is not what you benched gomel for. You benched gomel for the miracle that occured to you, that you survived the crash. That event was over in a moment; you could ื—ืดื• have been killed and you weren’t. Therefore your obligation to say ื”ื’ื•ืžืœ began as soon as you were stable and out of danger. If you wish to regard the broken bones as a ื—ื•ืœื™, and bench again once you are healed, that’s a different matter, but in that I think the Steipler’s safek applies. But that does not affect the gomel for surviving the crash.

    As for your second question, I don’t recall ever hearing anyone say ืžื™ ืฉื’ืžืœืš without an amein first. In my mind ืืžืŸ ืžื™ ืฉื’ืžืœืš flows together, just like ืืžืŸ ื™ื”ื ืฉืžื™ื” ืจื‘ื.

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    1. I’m not sure you are right. Certainly where there is a Nes and its the type of situation where there is no physical harm, e.g. a missile suddenly goes off course and misses your house, you would expect to bench gomel, but it if goes off course and still clips your house, then do you really have two Gomel issues or one. It seems Rav Schachter is saying you bench once as soon as you are overcome from the injuries, you seem to be saying, say one immediately because it went off course, and then a latter one when you are feeling okay. I admit to not having looked inside which is not generally my approach, but being in some discomfort for large parts of the day and night means I have to carefully divide my time. Seems like a Brisker pilpul is in order?

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      1. I’m not saying there are two gomels; like the Steipler, I don’t think the broken bones, etc., count as a ื—ื•ืœื™ for this purpose. But if they do, then surely your healing from them is a separate matter from the nes of not having been killed in the accident. Now if you think they are a ื—ื•ืœื™, and that healing from them requires a gomel, then it’s true that you could have waited until you are healed and then make one gomel on both nissim. But you were under no obligation to wait, since your chiyuv for the first nes came on you as soon as you were out of danger. If you (laudably in my opinion) could not wait to thank Hashem for the first nes, there is no way that could possibly be called a brocho levatoloh. The only question remaining is whether you should make a second gomel later; as I said, I’m inclined to say no, since the broken bones are not life-threatening they don’t cause a gomel.

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        1. The chiyuv lasts as long as you feel it. Does a person who forgot HaGomel after air travel not say it 3 months later when he remembers he forgot? My understanding is that he does. Accordingly, perhaps I should have delayed

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          1. As I said, you could have delayed if you’d wanted to, but you were right not to, because your obligation had already attached. There is not even the remotest reason to be worried that it was a bracha levatala. On the contrary, nedorai lashem ashalem.

            Had you delayed there would also be no question that when you eventually did say it you would only do so once. Now that you (properly) have already said it, should you say it again later? I think not, because your current medical condition was never life-threatening; the threat came from the crash, not from the broken bones.

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  2. Maybe this question is not appropriate here, but when does one benstch gomel if they do after an operation for cancer that took all the bad stuff out? Once the surgery scar is healed or after a clean bill of health for two years or five years?

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  3. There maybe another issue here, whether you need to say the Brocho of Boruch etc. Sheoso li Ness bamokom hazeh. It was outside your home and this Brocho is only said when going past the accident scene after not going there for 30 days. So it would only be said after a longer absence from home. I was paskened to say this Brocho after I had a lucky escape in an accident. You may know about this already. It is up to your Rov to decide I suppose.

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