Sunday, 19 July 2020

Beracha on Seeing a Friend

Question: I haven’t seen some of my close friends for a few months due to lockdown. Should we say a beracha when we meet or does the fact that we have spoken over the phone and via Zoom mean that we don’t need to?
Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 58a) teaches that one who sees their friend after an absence of thirty days recites the beracha of shehecheyanu, and if after a year, they recite the beracha of mechaye hameisim. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 225:1) adds that this only applies to particularly close friends who one is most excited to see.
Thus, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Daas 4:17) writes that if one is excited about seeing their close friends or family after a prolonged absence, one recites shehecheyanu.
Nonetheless, many poskim limit this, writing that it does not apply to typical situations nowadays. Thus, the Eshel Avraham (230:4) and Ben Ish Chai (Ekev 1:14) write that we are not particular about this beracha and one should rather recite this beracha without shem umalchus (Hashem’s name). R’ Yosef Yuzpa Han (Yosef Ometz 451) explains that such friendships are few and far between.
R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Tefilla 23:12; n53) concurs, writing that one would only say it in rare circumstances such as if one had survived fighting in the front lines in battle, etc. When his daughter and son-in-law (and R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky) came to visit him in eretz Yisrael from abroad, he went out to buy a new fruit in order to be able to say shehecheyanu.
R’ Nissan Karelitz (Chut Shani, Rosh Hashana, Kobetz Inyanim 16) writes that if one had seen their friend over live video in the meantime then this, too, would diminish the joy and prevent one from being able to recite shehecheyanu.
In conclusion, one should not say shehecheyanu upon seeing one’s friends after lockdown, especially if one has been in touch with them in the meantime.

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