Is it appropriate to say "Baruch Dayan HaEmeth" when you hear of sad news about a person you don't know, or a person you have corresponded with but haven't met?

Does it make a difference if you've heard a great deal about the person or if the first time you're hearing of them is the report of the news?

Does it make a difference if you've gained from the person (knowledge, business, entertainment, etc.) despite not knowing them or corresponding with them (read their book, seen their work, studied their expertise, etc.)?

  • Like Rav Elyashiv for example?
    – msh210
    Mar 22, 2013 at 17:19
  • @msh210 He'd be under the heading "if you've heard a great deal about the person"; sometimes, though, I get an email from a community email list announcing the passing of someone I'd never heard of, who would fit "if the first time you're hearing of them is the report of the news".
    – Seth J
    Mar 22, 2013 at 17:20
  • 1
    Yeah. Just checking that that's one of the sorts of cases you were thinking of. +1. My own suspicion is that you say it whenever you're saddened by the news, which depends on the person; but I guess we'll see what sourced answers say....
    – msh210
    Mar 22, 2013 at 17:21
  • Can you tell me why you think you shouldn't? Why would it be inappropriate?
    – Ariel
    Mar 22, 2013 at 20:13
  • @Ariel, if, for example, you one to peruse the obituaries section of any newspaper, one might be muttering BD"E under one's breath for the better part of an hour. Furthermore, the Berachah is meant to convey a sense of acceptance of G-d's plan, despite not understanding it, and it is a heavy message if one is affected by the news. It's not always said when hearing of a death, by the way, just bad news.
    – Seth J
    Mar 22, 2013 at 20:17

1 Answer 1


See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 59,6. He says that if there isn't very much Tzar (pain) over the news, then one should say it, and if there is real Tzar, one would say it with Sheim Umalchus (mentioning God's name and reign). Having learned from a Talmid Chochom is not a prerequisite to saying the Beracha on his passing.

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