2

When one goes "into" the sea, one is obligated to say HaGomel (see Berachos 54).

How far does one have to go to be considered "in" the sea?

  • If one goes swimming on the beach, does one say HaGomel?
  • If one takes a sailboat around, does one say HaGomel?
  • If one takes a boat from Copenhagen to Sweden, does one say HaGomel?
  • If one crosses the English Channel, does one say HaGomel?
  • If one sails from Israel to Rome, does one say HaGomel?
  • I would assume that #1 is the more dangerous activity – Shmuel Brin Jul 12 '15 at 5:46
3

The verse in Tehillim (107:23) from which we derive the law explicitly mentions ships:

יוֹרְדֵי הַיָּם בָּאֳנִיּוֹת עֹשֵׂי מְלָאכָה בְּמַיִם רַבִּים - "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters"

From this I would infer that your first case of swimming is clearly fine (though it's worth noting that the continuing verses clearly also indicate salvation from significant danger). Beyond that, if one is traveling by sea and there is a significant danger, one is clearly obligated to say the blessing. Apparently, the applicability of the blessing when there is no actual danger is subject to dispute.

From: http://www.dinonline.org/2014/08/16/gratitude-for-surviving-danger-when-to-say-birkas-ha-gomel/

A further application of the divergent customs is the matter of somebody who crosses a large river or lake, but not an ocean. The Biur Halachah (s.v. yordei) writes that the halachah depends on the divergent customs: According to the custom of Sephard, the blessing is recited because a large river is no less dangerous than an intercity road. However according to the Ashkenaz custom, it is possible that no blessing is recited, because the danger in crossing a large river is less than in crossing the sea.

From the same site:

Shut Kinyan Torah (Vol. 1, no. 16, sec. 3) writes that somebody who sails across the Channel between England and France does not recite the blessing because the journey is short

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