I got a text message from a friend of mine while I was at work yesterday. She had a close call.
She’d been settling into her new digs in Safed, having moved up there recently from Jerusalem. Several days ago she was called back to Jerusalem unexpectedly on urgent business, and she was still here yesterday when she received a call from her landlord. It seems that her apartment took a direct hit during the rocket strike on Safed.
She doesn’t yet know the full extent of the damage or whether any of her possessions are recoverable. We’re all very grateful that she was far away when the rockets hit and that she is alive and well.
I guess she will soon be benching gomel—reciting birkat ha-gomel, the traditional Jewish blessing of gratitude for having escaped a dangerous situation.
The blessing is usually recited in the synagogue, during the Torah reading, by men and women alike. The Sages determined four main categories of people who must recite the blessing: one who has crossed the ocean (in our time, this includes air travel), one who has crossed the desert (or been saved from any other life-threatening situation), one who has recovered from childbirth or serious illness, and one who has been released from prison. The one reciting the blessing says:
בָּרוּך אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַגּוֹמֵל לְחַיָּבִים טוֹבוֹת, שֶׁגְּמָלַנִי כָּל טוֹב.
Barukh atah, Adonai, Eloheinu, Melekh ha-Olam, ha-gomel la-hayavim tovot, she-gemalani kol tov.
Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, who bestows goodness upon the accountable, who has bestowed every goodness upon me.
The congregants respond:
אָמֵן. מִי שֶגְּמָלְךָ (ל"נ שֶׁגְּמָלֵךְ) (כָּל) טוֹב, הוּא יִגְמָלְךָ (ל"נ יִגְמָלֵךְ) כָּל טוֹב. סֶלָה.
Amen. Mi she-gemalekha (feminine: she-gemalekh) (kol) tov, hu yigmolkha (feminine: yigmolekh) kol tov. Selah.
Amen. May the One who has bestowed goodness upon you bestow goodness upon you always. Selah.
Yes, Judaism—which has a blessing for just about everything—has a blessing for close calls, too.
(More details about birkat ha-gomel and its laws may be found here.)