Brachot on Sights

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General laws of Brachot on Sights

  1. If one saw a friend one a television or heard them on the phone or radio, one doesn’t make any Bracha for seeing or hearing them. [1]
  2. All the below Brachot for certain sights are made if one hasn’t seen them in thirty days. [2]
  3. Seeing from a distance or airplane is still considered good enough vision in order to make the bracha as long as one can see the sight clearly and the sight is recognizable. [3]
  4. Seeing a sight at night warrants a Bracha as long as one the sight is distinguishable even at night. [4]
  5. Some say one can still make the Bracha upon seeing a wonder of nature even after one has left as long as the sight still impresses or inspires oneself. [5] Some say that one may make the Bracha only while one is still in the area where one can still see the sight or if it’s within the Toch Kedi Dibbur of leaving that area. [6]

    Bracha for seeing a house of Avoda Zara

  6. Nowadays we do not make the Bracha for seeing a house of Avoda Zara (which was Baruch Atta…SheNatan Erech Apayim LeOvri Retzono). [7]

    Bracha for Seeing a Scholar

  7. For seeing a great Jewish Chacham (wise scholar) the Bracha is Baruch Atta…SheChalak MeChachmato LeYire’av ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם שחלק מחכמתו . ליראיו [8] However, this Bracha is made rarely because it should only be made for a wise scholar, G-d fearing person, and man of Middot. [9]
  8. For seeing a brilliant non-Jewish secular scholar the Bracha is Baruch Atta…SheNatan MeChachmato LeBasar VeDam. [10] Some say that there’s a minhag not to make this Bracha nowadays. [11]

    Bracha for seeing a king or queen

  9. It is a mitzvah to go and see rulers and kings, whether they are Jewish or non-Jewish.[12] Nonetheless, one shouldn't waste time from learning to do so unless the king came with special pome and grandeur.[13]
  10. Upon seeing a Jewish king one should recite ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם שחלק מכבודו ליראיו (Baruch... Shechalak Mikvodo Liyireav). [14]
  11. Upon seeing a non-Jewish king one should recite ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם שחלק מכבודו לבשר ודם (Baruch... Shenatan Mikvodo Libriyotav). [15]
  12. It is questionable if nowadays one should make this Beracha for seeing a king, queen, president, or prime minister, and therefore one should only make this Bracha without Shem UMalchut. [16]
  13. This Bracha applies equally to a male king as to a female queen, however, one shouldn’t stare at the queen but only a quick look. [17]
  14. Seeing the monarch on television would not obligate you in the beracha. [18]

    Bracha for seeing a cemetery

  15. For seeing a Jewish cemetery the Bracha is Baruch Atta…Asher Yatzer Etchem…Mechaye Maytim. ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם, אשר יצר אתכם בדין ודן אתכם בדין וכלכל אתכם בדין והחיה אתכם בדין, ואסף אתכם בדין, ויודע מספר כולכם, ועתיד להחיותכם ולהקימכם בדין לחיי העולם הבא, ברוך אתה ה' מחיה המתים [19] This Bracha can be made for seeing it through glass and so if one see a cemetery from a car while driving one can make this Bracha. [20] Some say that one may make the Bracha even after leaving the sight as long as one is still effected and impacted by it. [21]

    Bracha for seeing a friend

  16. Nowadays, the Ashkenazic minhag is not to make a bracha upon seeing a friend after 30 days or after 12 months. [22]
  17. However, some say Sephardic minhag is to make the Bracha of Shehecheyanu even if one was in contact as long as one hasn’t seen them for 30 days, while some disagree. [23]

    Bracha for seeing 600,000 people

  18. Upon seeing 600,000 Jews there’s a Bracha of Baruch Atta…Chacham HaRazim, however, this is a extremely rare occurrence. [24]
  19. Upon seeing 600,000 non-Jews one should say the פסוק “Boshu Imachem Meod…” and some say that one can say this for any gathering of non-Jews. [25]

    Other specific Brachot on Sights

Related Links

  1. Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz about making a Bracha for seeing royalty.

Common Questions

  1. Does one make a Bracha for seeing the President? See above #Bracha for seeing a king or queen.

Sources

  1. Yalkut YosefRabbi Yitzchak Yosef (b. 1952), sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, son of Rav Ovadia Yosef and brother of Rabbi David Yosef, is the author of Yalkut Yosef, which is a encyclopedic work of Sephardic halacha. (vol 3 pg 406)
  2. 224:13
  3. Vezot HaBracha (pg 154-5), Piskei Teshuvot 228:1
  4. Vezot HaBracha (pg 154), Piskei Teshuvot 228:1
  5. Halichot Shlomo 23:26 writes that if one didn't make the bracha immediately upon seeing the ocean, one may make the bracha as long as the sight effects oneself (one is still inspired or in awe).
  6. Piskei Teshuvot 228:1
  7. S”A 224:1 writes that for seeing an Avoda Zara the Bracha is Baruch Atta…SheNatan Erech Apayim LeOvri Retzono. The Mishna BrurahRabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (1838 – 1933), known popularly as The Chofetz Chaim from his book on the laws of [[Lashon Hara]], was an influential Lithuanian Rabbi, author of the Mishna Brurah as well as the Beur Halacha which is in more detail and the Shaar Hatziyun which quotes sources 224:2 adds that this Bracha also applies if one only sees the house of the Avoda Zara. However, the RamaRabbi Moshe Isserles (1525-1572), Rabbi in Cracow, Poland, major ashkenazic halachic authority. Author of Darkei Moshe on the Tur, Sh"t Harama a set of responsa, and most famously the haghot on the SA. 224:1 writes clearly that our minhag is not to make this Bracha nowadays since we see these houses of Avoda Zara often. Mishna BrurahRabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (1838 – 1933), known popularly as The Chofetz Chaim from his book on the laws of [[Lashon Hara]], was an influential Lithuanian Rabbi, author of the Mishna Brurah as well as the Beur Halacha which is in more detail and the Shaar Hatziyun which quotes sources 224:3 extends the case to even if one didn’t see the house of Avoda Zara in thirty days one still doesn’t make the Bracha.
  8. S”A 224:6, Berachot 58a, Rambam Berachot 10:11, Yechave DaatRabbi Ovadia Yosef (1920-2013), born in Iraq lives in Israel, former sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, one of the foremost sephardic halachia authorities, author of Sh"t Yechave Daat, Sh"t Yabia Omer, both halachic responsa and Chazon Ovadia with halachot of [[Shabbat]] and the [[holidays]]. Father of Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef and Rabbi David Yosef. 4:16
  9. Piskei Teshuvot 224:4, Yalkut YosefRabbi Yitzchak Yosef (b. 1952), sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, son of Rav Ovadia Yosef and brother of Rabbi David Yosef, is the author of Yalkut Yosef, which is a encyclopedic work of Sephardic halacha. (vol 3 pg 602).
    • Aruch HaShulchan OC 224:6 says not to make this beracha nowadays since we are not sure if the talmidei chachamim are as great as the talmidei chachamim to which the gemara refers.
    • However, the Piskei Teshuvot (224: note 17) lists many gedolim who made this beracha on others. It also quotes Rav Moshe Feinstein, Chacham Ovadia, Chazon IshRabbi Avraham Yishaya Karelitz (1878-1953), born in Belarus but emigrated to Israel, one of the leaders of the Charedi movement in Bnei Brak, author of Chazon Ish on Shulchan Aruch, brother-in-law of the Steipler Gaon., Minchat Elazar 5:7 and Rivivot EphraimRabbi Ephraim Greenblatt (1932-2004), grew up and passed away in Yerushalayim but was a prominent ashkenazi posek and leader in Memphis. Author of Sh"t Rivivot Ephraim, responsa on many different topics in contemporary halacha. 8:128:6 who hold that one should make this beracha on rabbis today
    • Ben Ish ChaiRabbi Yosef Chaim (1832 – 1909) was a leading Sephardic Rabbi, author of the Ben Ish Chai as well as Sh"t Rav Pealim, and Rabbi of Baghdad. Parashat Ekev: Halacha 13, Tzitz EliezerRabbi Eliezer Waldenberg (1915-2006), ashkenazic posek and dayan in Yerushalayim, posek of Shaare Tzedek hospital in Yerushalayim, author of Sh"t Tzitz Eliezer, a set of halachic responsa. 14:37:3, Chesed Laalafim 224:12 suggest making a beracha without Hashem’s name.
  10. S”A 224:7
  11. Piskei Teshuvot 224:5 writes that the minhag is not to make this Bracha since some say that one should make the Bracha on non-Jews that don’t keep the 7 מצות of Bnei Noach
  12. The Gemara Brachot (9b, 19b, 58a) explains that a person should endeavor to see kings so that if he merits he will be able to distinguish between a regular king and Mashiach. Rambam (Avel 3:14) and Shulchan Aruch 224:4 codify this.
  13. Mishna BrurahRabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (1838 – 1933), known popularly as The Chofetz Chaim from his book on the laws of [[Lashon Hara]], was an influential Lithuanian Rabbi, author of the Mishna Brurah as well as the Beur Halacha which is in more detail and the Shaar Hatziyun which quotes sources 224:13
  14. Berachot 58a, Shulchan Aruch 224:8
  15. Berachot 58a, Shulchan Aruch 224:8
    • How much power does the ruler have to have in order to make the Bracha upon seeing him? Rav Ovadia Yosef Yechave DaatRabbi Ovadia Yosef (1920-2013), born in Iraq lives in Israel, former sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, one of the foremost sephardic halachia authorities, author of Sh"t Yechave Daat, Sh"t Yabia Omer, both halachic responsa and Chazon Ovadia with halachot of [[Shabbat]] and the [[holidays]]. Father of Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef and Rabbi David Yosef. 2:28 cites the Radvaz 1:296 as well as the Orchot Chaim Berachot 49 that say that this beracha is recited on any monarch with enough power to execute or pardon from execution. Halacha BrurahRabbi David Yosef (1957- ), sephardic posek in Yerushalayim. The author of Halacha Brurah, a commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Torat Hamoadim, on the laws of the [[holidays]] and Torat Hatahara, on the laws of Taharat Hamishpacha. Son of Chacham Ovadia Yosef and brother of Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef 224:14 writes that one makes the Bracha (with Shem UMalchut) on a king of a country even if he is democratically elected and even if he is only ruler for a term as long as there isn’t a another figure above him that can nullify his decision such as if his decisions don’t need to be approved by parliament. Halacha BrurahRabbi David Yosef (1957- ), sephardic posek in Yerushalayim. The author of Halacha Brurah, a commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Torat Hamoadim, on the laws of the [[holidays]] and Torat Hatahara, on the laws of Taharat Hamishpacha. Son of Chacham Ovadia Yosef and brother of Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef mentions specically if the ruler has the power to pardon someone sentenced to death or declare war against another country then one may make the Bracha on that king with Shem UMalchut.
    • What about a President who doesn't wear royal clothing? Rav Ovadia Yosef in Sh”t Yabia OmerRabbi Ovadia Yosef (1920-2013), born in Iraq lives in Israel, former sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, one of the foremost sephardic halachia authorities, author of Sh"t Yechave Daat, Sh"t Yabia Omer, both halachic responsa and Chazon Ovadia with halachot of [[Shabbat]] and the [[holidays]] 8:22(25) rules that one doesn’t make the Bracha with Shem UMalchut if the king is wearing normal clothing (not royal clothes). Actually, Rav Ovadyah Yosef writes that when the US President Nixon came to Israel that they made the Bracha without Shem UMalchut because he was wearing normal clothes. Rav Moshe HaLevi in Birkat HashemRabbi Moshe Halevi (1961-2001), major Sephardic posek in Israel, author of Menuchat Ahava on halachot of [[Shabbat]], Milveh Hashem on the laws of loans, as well as Birkat Hashem on halachot of [[Berachot]]. (vol 4 3:32) agrees. [See, however, Halacha BrurahRabbi David Yosef (1957- ), sephardic posek in Yerushalayim. The author of Halacha Brurah, a commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Torat Hamoadim, on the laws of the [[holidays]] and Torat Hatahara, on the laws of Taharat Hamishpacha. Son of Chacham Ovadia Yosef and brother of Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef 224:14 writes that even if the king isn’t wearing royal clothing but as long as he is recognizably respected by his officers that surround him and by the many people coming to see him, then one may make the Bracha with Shem UMalchut on such a king. Sh”t Elyashiv HaKohen 2:26 quotes Rav Mazuz who agrees with Halacha BrurahRabbi David Yosef (1957- ), sephardic posek in Yerushalayim. The author of Halacha Brurah, a commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Torat Hamoadim, on the laws of the [[holidays]] and Torat Hatahara, on the laws of Taharat Hamishpacha. Son of Chacham Ovadia Yosef and brother of Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef.]
    • Piskei Teshuvot 224:6,7 concludes that nowadays one should make this Bracha without Shem UMalchut for seeing a king, queen, president, or prime minister.
    • See also Shu"t Minchas Elazar Vol. 5 Siman 7, Shu"t Shevet Haleivi Vol. 1 Siman 35.
  16. Halacha BrurahRabbi David Yosef (1957- ), sephardic posek in Yerushalayim. The author of Halacha Brurah, a commentary on Shulchan Aruch, Torat Hamoadim, on the laws of the [[holidays]] and Torat Hatahara, on the laws of Taharat Hamishpacha. Son of Chacham Ovadia Yosef and brother of Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef 224:15 quoting Sh”t Bear Moshe 2:9(4), 2:14(16), Sh”t Shevet HaLevi 1:35, Sh”t Rivevot Efraim 1:47(3), B’tzel Hachachma 2:19 and others who all make this distinction between staring and seeing based on Beit YosefRabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575), also know as Maran or as the Michaber, the main halachic authority especially for sephardic, author of Kessef Mishne on Rambam, Beit Yosef on Tur, and the Shulchan Aruch. 75 d"h viasur. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Braun in She’arim Metzuyanim B’halacha 1:60:7 rules however that one cannot recite the blessing over a queen because a man may never even gaze at a woman. See also Rav Moshe Shternbuch in Sh”t Teshuvot ViHanhagot 2:139 rules that since the obligation is based on the honor given to that monarch, that one should in fact recite the beracha upon seeing the monarch of modern day England, even a female despite the fact that we don't allow for a Jewish monarch to be a women.
  17. Yechave DaatRabbi Ovadia Yosef (1920-2013), born in Iraq lives in Israel, former sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, one of the foremost sephardic halachia authorities, author of Sh"t Yechave Daat, Sh"t Yabia Omer, both halachic responsa and Chazon Ovadia with halachot of [[Shabbat]] and the [[holidays]]. Father of Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef and Rabbi David Yosef. 2:28 compares it to saying birkat halevana upon seeing the moon in the mirror, which we do not do based on the gemara in rosh hashana 24b and birkei yosef Choshen Mishpat 35:11
  18. S”A 224:12, Mishna BrurahRabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (1838 – 1933), known popularly as The Chofetz Chaim from his book on the laws of [[Lashon Hara]], was an influential Lithuanian Rabbi, author of the Mishna Brurah as well as the Beur Halacha which is in more detail and the Shaar Hatziyun which quotes sources 224:17, Piskei Teshuvot 224:10, Yalkut YosefRabbi Yitzchak Yosef (b. 1952), sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, son of Rav Ovadia Yosef and brother of Rabbi David Yosef, is the author of Yalkut Yosef, which is a encyclopedic work of Sephardic halacha. (vol 3 pg 604), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 60:11
  19. Piskei Teshuvot 224:10, Yalkut YosefRabbi Yitzchak Yosef (b. 1952), sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, son of Rav Ovadia Yosef and brother of Rabbi David Yosef, is the author of Yalkut Yosef, which is a encyclopedic work of Sephardic halacha. (vol 3 pg 605)
  20. Halichot Shlomo 23:26 (in the footnote) writes that if one didn't make the bracha immediately upon seeing the Jewish cemetery, one may make the bracha as long as the sight effects oneself.
  21. Halichot Shlomo 23:12, Piskei Teshuvot 225:2. Mishna BrurahRabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (1838 – 1933), known popularly as The Chofetz Chaim from his book on the laws of [[Lashon Hara]], was an influential Lithuanian Rabbi, author of the Mishna Brurah as well as the Beur Halacha which is in more detail and the Shaar Hatziyun which quotes sources 225:2 says to recite shehecheyanu upon seeing a friend, parent, or teacher that one has not seen in 30 days as long as there hasn't been any correspondence.
  22. Yalkut YosefRabbi Yitzchak Yosef (b. 1952), sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, son of Rav Ovadia Yosef and brother of Rabbi David Yosef, is the author of Yalkut Yosef, which is a encyclopedic work of Sephardic halacha. (vol 3 pg 605) writes that the minhag is to make both these Brachot under the conditions of S”A. However, Vezot HaBracha (pg 171) quotes Rav Mordechai Eliyahu who says that the minhag is not to make these Brachot nowadays.
  23. S”A 224:5
  24. S”A 224:5, Piskei Teshuvot 225:3 quoting the Sh”t Divrei Yetsiv 1:91 and Brachat HaBayit Shaar 29:3