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Shehecheyanu on a Non jewish friend

Category: // By Rabbi: הרב ירון אשכנזי // Answer date: 15.01.2021

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Question:

I am a Baal Teshuva and I have a god friend from when I was a child whose not Jewish. He visits me when he is in town. Do I need to say Shehecheyanu when I see him since I am happy to see him?

Answer:

There are some opinions that you many nota make Shehecheyanu on a Non-Jew because he is not called “Chaver” a friend according to the guidelines of Torah. However since you are very happy when you see him the is no difference between that an buying new clothing.
The Gemara in Brachot 58b writes: One who sees his friend after twelve months recites: Blessed…Who revives the dead. As Rav said: A dead person is only forgotten from the heart after twelve months have elapsed, as it is stated: “I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind; I am like a lost vessel” (Psalms 31:13), and with regard to the laws of lost objects, it is human nature to despair of recovering a lost object after twelve months (see Bava Metzia 28a).
The Gemara relates: Rav Pappa and Rav Huna, son of Rav Yehoshua, were once walking along the road when they met Rav Ḥanina the son of Rav Ika. They said to him: When we saw you we recited two blessings over meeting you: Blessed…Who has shared of His wisdom to those who revere Him, and: Who has given us life…as they had not seen him in over a month
Tosfot comments one only says a bracha on someone who is dear to him. Rabbeinu Yonah explains that one makes a bracha only on someone who makes him happy when he sees him, not just any friend.
The Rambam though just quotes the words of the Gemara but does not qualify them. The Kesef Mishna remarks Tosfot say it is only by those who are dear to him. Which implies there is an argument here. However in the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 225:1 rule like Tosfot to make a bracha only if they are dear to him. So he must understand there is no actual argument. However the Shulchan Aruch uses the words, “One who is very dear to him and is happy to see him.” However it would see that there is no difference between when it makes one happy or happy. Maybe he writes this to differentiate between regular friends and who will make someone happy, and someone who is very dear who will make one very happy.
R’ Ovadia Yosef Yechave Daat 4:17rules: Someone who has not seen his friend for thirty days and he is someone who is very dear to him, for example his father or Rebbi, or a relative, his sone or brothers, or his wife or miter. He must make a bracha on anyone who he is happy to see even if he was in touch with them over the phone.
It seems the main catalyst for making a bracha is the fact he is happy to see that friend, not whether he is called a friend by Chazal. Proof for this is that the Elya Rabba and Eshel Avraham say one makes a bracha on a woman even if she is forbidden to him. She cannot be any worse that a NonJew who he is happy to see.
There are even Gemaras which refer to Goyim as a Chaver, a friend. The Gemara in Shabbat 150a: A person may not hire workers on Shabbat to work for him after Shabbat because even speaking about weekday matters is prohibited on Shabbat. Similarly, a person may not tell a friend on Shabbat to hire workers for him. The beginning of the Mishna taught that one may not hire workers on Shabbat, and one may not tell another to hire workers for him. The Gemara finds this puzzling and states: This is obvious. What is the difference between him and another? Just as he is prohibited from hiring workers on Shabbat, others are also prohibited from doing so. Rav Pappa said: Another is referring to a gentile.
We see from here that a Goy can be referred as a friend. So in the case of an old friend who is not Jewish you may say Shehecheyanu when you see him.

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