Q. What is bensching gomel?
A. Bensching gomel (or Birkat Gomel) means saying the blessing of thanks after emerging from a dangerous situation. The wording is, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the world, who bestows (hagomel) goodness upon the undeserving, who has bestowed every goodness upon me”. The response is, “May He who has bestowed goodness upon you bestow every goodness upon you for ever”.
The blessing is required after a serious illness or operation (including childbirth); on undertaking a dangerous journey or voyage, including an air flight; after surviving an accident; or on one’s release from prison.
The source of these principles is Psalm 107, which speaks of four categories of “the redeemed of the Lord” – travellers, captives, invalids and sea voyagers, though the Talmud lists the categories in a different order (B’rachot 54b). The b’rachah replaces the thanksoffering brought in Temple times.
It is usually said (whether by a male or a female) in the presence of a minyan. Some authorities allow it to be said privately within three days of coming out of danger. After an illness a person does not have to wait until they are fully recovered. If the blessing has been said privately it can later be repeated in the presence of a minyan, though without the Divine name – i.e. Baruch hagomel… (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 219).