Q. A Kolel family lo alenu tragically lost a baby by smoke inhalation some years ago in a house fire, the rest of the family B’H survived. They sued the manufacturers of an appliance that caused the fire and recently won a very large settlement that practically turned the formerly necessitated and in financial problems family, into a very wealthy one.
The would like to know what Horav Miller’s holds in regard to making a seudas hodoah, due to the extremely contrasting issues involved; what is the correct thing to do?
A. Shulchan Aruch (O.H. 223: 1) rules that if one loses his father and also receives an inheritance, he should first recite “Dayan Haemes” followed by “Shehecheyanu.” Mishna Berura (ibid. 9) adds that even though he would have preferred to have his father alive and not receive the inheritance, he is still permitted to thank Hashem for the gift received even when mixed with pain.
However, Halichos Shlomo (23: n. 33) advises to recite the brocho after the end of aninus in private, so it may not seem like a lack of respect to the deceased father.
In regards to the brocho of Hagomel, to thank Hashem for being saved in an accident, the survivors recite and thank Hashem, even when close relatives did not.
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is that they should contribute significantly to a Torah institution that may dedicate a place that carries and the name and remembrance to the neshama of the deceased baby. When it is inaugurated, the seuda should also be a seudas hodoah to thank Hashem for the chesed received.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as revised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a