By: Rabbi Ari Enkin
The Talmud teaches that one who hasn’t seen a good friend in over a month should recite a special blessing – the shehecheyanu blessing- upon seeing them again. A “friend” in this context refers to a person with whom one is exceptionally close, and whose presence brings one great happiness. In the event that an entire year has gone by since one last saw such a friend, one recites the blessing “mechaye hameitim“. Similarly, one also recites the shehecheyanu blessing when being personally received by a great person, particularly a renowned Torah scholar, who is rarely accessible for private audiences.
The blessing of mechaye hameitim is only recited if one did not even hear from one’s friend over the course of an entire year. If the two friends had been in some form of contact, however, only the shehecheyanu blessing is recited – even though they had not actually seen each other for an entire year. The difference between the shehecheyanu blessing and the mechaye hameitim blessing is that the former is essentially recited in honor of the pleasure one experiences upon seeing a good friend after a lengthy absence, while the latter represents thanksgiving that the friend is still alive. There is no difference between men or women for the purposes of these blessings and they may even be recited when it concerns a member of the opposite sex.
For some reason the custom of reciting a blessing upon seeing a special friend has fallen into disuse for the most part. Some authorities explain this to be because even one’s closest friends simply do not bring enough happiness to warrant the blessing. Other authorities suggest that the practice of reciting a blessing upon seeing a friend has become a shallow facade of inappropriate flattery. One may also want to consider reciting the shema when seeing a long lost friend after a lengthy absence just as Yaakov Avinu had done when he was reunited with Yosef.
Nevertheless, many individuals continue to recite the shehecheyanu blessing upon meeting a close friend whom they have not seen for quite some time, and there is certainly ample justification for this practice. In order to evade the dispute whether or not these blessings should be recited, some authorities suggest that they be recited without mentioning God’s name or to recite them in one’s mind rather than audibly. In the event, however, that one encounters a friend whom one has not seen for quite some time and who recently recovered from a serious illness, the blessings may be recited in their entirety without hesitation.
 Berachot 58b
 O.C. 225:1
 Rivevot Ephraim 6:104
 Kaf Hachaim 225:4
 Aruch Hashulchan 225:2
 Rivevot Ephraim 6:104, Kaf Hachaim 225:2
 Rivevot Ephraim 1:161. See Minhag Yisrael Torah 225:1 and Piskei Teshuvot 225 note 18 for more explanations as to why this is so.
 Rashi;Bereishit 46:29
 Kaf Hachaim 225:6
 Shaar Hatziun 225:3