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Rambam, Maase Hakorbanos 9:5, indicates that a toda is just another kind of sh'lamim. In perek 14 he mentions that a sh'lamim needs no special circumstances, as opposed to a chatas which can only be brought if one needs to bring one. That is, one can bring a toda whenever he wants.

(This is reflected in the little "y'hi ratzon" prayers we say during Ezehu m'koman: the chatas prayer says (paraphrasing) "if I must bring a chatas, this prayer should count as if I've brought one" whereas the toda prayer says (paraphrasing again) merely "this prayer should count as if I've brought one".)

Birkas hagomel is in lieu of the toda.

Yet birkas hagomel can, apparently, not be said whenever one wants. Shulchan Aruch and Mishna B'rura 219 carefully delineate under what circumstances one says it, and imply that under other circumstances one does not. (To be sure, there are circumstances about which the halacha is not clear, and, therefore, might indicate that someone "can" say the b'racha. But that's not comparable to the toda, which anyone can bring even without halachically accepted cause.)

So my first question is why. That is: If hagomel is based on the toda, why can the latter be brought whenever one wants and the former not?

My second question is whether anyone actually holds that hagomel can be said without halachically accepted cause.

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Or: "Is the prohibition of Lo Tisa more strict that the prohibition of chulin on the Mizbeyach?"? –  Isaac Moses Jun 22 '11 at 17:36
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@IsaacMoses - It's not necessarily clear that "lo sisa" is a real concern in the case of unnecessary b'rachos. See, for example the Ra"sh on Kidushin 30b, commenting on the opinion of Rabenu Tam in Tosafos s.v. "d'lo". (Anyone know a good linkable text of the Ra"sh)? –  WAF Jun 23 '11 at 13:22
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For future questions and thoughts... I would suggest that when something is 'based on' it does not mean 'the same as'. When its different its good to ask why its different, but the word "if" in your question seems odd, it should be 'since'. I.e. no analogy is perfect. ... to put it differently, this difference between todah and gomel is no reason to suspect that Gomel is not based on the Todah. –  avi Jul 24 '11 at 6:20
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2 Answers

Speculation:

It could be that the Sages weren't comfortable with innovating a beracha with unlimited scope, given the problems with unnecessarily invoking God's name. The Torah had [infinitely] more authority to create such an open-ended option, even for something as serious as a korban.

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Maybe. But consider OC 222:1–2. –  msh210 Jun 22 '11 at 17:59
    
@msh210 Good point. It seems, though, that Shehecheyanu and Hatov Vehametiv are said without God's name, though Dayan Ha-emet is said with it. This seems to be partial support for my idea that Chazal were uncomfortable with open-ended berachot that invoke God's name, particularly if there's a special reason why Dayan Ha-emet would be an exception. –  Isaac Moses Jun 22 '11 at 21:39
    
@msh210 , IsaacMoses : See the Magen Avraham OC 223 sk 4 –  Double AA Jan 17 '12 at 6:03
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One could say that even though the blessing is based on a korban, not all the rules were transferred, for example, shacharis and mincha were made instead of the korban tamid, yet one couldn't bring a "stam" tamid yet one can pray a nedavah.

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