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Is it inappropriate to say Baruch Dayan Haemes on a Ben Noach? What about someone who may have been an oved avoda zarah? Someone who is definitely such?

I'm asking because I've seen such discussion online regarding Steve Jobs' death.

I'm not judging the man, as I don't think it's appropriate to do so. (See my comments here for more on that.) However, the issue has arisen, and so I'm asking.

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Nice. I was gonna ask it last night, but was trying to come up with the best (most P.C.) way to phrase it. –  yydl Oct 7 '11 at 2:41
    
lol, I was going to ask this too, but with the skew of 'if the person is a complete stranger' –  zaq Oct 7 '11 at 2:49
    
@zaq - "the skew"? –  Moshe Oct 7 '11 at 2:49
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@yydl, "P.C."? ;-) –  msh210 Oct 7 '11 at 7:06
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@msh210 politically correct (and I suppose pun intended) –  yydl Oct 7 '11 at 14:39

2 Answers 2

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Well there are two things going on here:

According to Talmudic law, upon hearing bad news, one is supposed to say:

Baruch ata adonoi eloheinu melech ha'olam, dayan ha'emes.

Blessed are you G-d, our Lord, king of the Universe, the judge of truth.

Now what constitutes "bad news"? Certainly a death in the family, but all sorts of other things could be bad news depending on your situation. Learning that your investments went up in smoke, for instance. (There were situations when upon hearing that one's ox died suddenly, the blessing was made. Not out of grief for the loss of a pet, but because that was a serious piece of business capital.)

I'd thus assume that if someone was stricken by a non-Jew's death sufficiently to call it bad news, s/he should acknowledge G-d's judgment accordingly. There aren't hard-and-fast rules here, it can depend how you feel. I'd assume if a convert stayed close with his/her non-Jewish parent and the parent died suddenly, it would be bad news and thus appropriate to say the blessing.

So I guess the question really is, how deeply and personally do you feel the sudden news of Steve Jobs' death? My guess is that for most people it doesn't quite hit the bar, but that's just me. (Of course, how much Apple stock you own could make a big difference here ...)


The other question is that we're accustomed to saying "baruch dayan emes", "bless the true judge" as a shorthand (without the name of G-d), whenever we share bad news. This is more of a cultural question; my impression is it's usually used either for a notable Jew ("baruch dayan emes, Rabbi Menashe Klein passed away just before Rosh Hashana") or for something particularly personal ("baruch dayan emes", my neighbor the convert just lost his parents in a car crash). I'd beware its dilution by using it for any death one hears of; not as a matter of law but as a matter of taste.

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Without Hashem's name you can for sure say it.

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Yes, you could technically say it, but it would not be a bracha, so it would be pointless. Look at the first tosphos in perek haroeh (9th chapter of brachos). It needs shem umalchus. –  Adam Mosheh Feb 24 '12 at 18:36
    
This answer needs to be fleshed out with more explanation and a source. –  Isaac Moses Mar 6 '13 at 14:59

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