Bracha For Seeing Natural Wonders
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This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
Lightning and Thunder
- For lightning and thunder, if they come at the same time or right after one another and one didn’t start to recite any Bracha, one should only recite Oseh Maaseh Beresheet and it will cover both the lightning and thunder. If, however, there is a break between the lightning and the thunder such that one already began to say Oseh Maaseh Beresheet on the lightning, then one should say finish Oseh Maaseh Beresheet on the lighting and recite SheCocho UGevurato Maaleh Olam on the thunder.
- If one didn’t see the lighting and only heard thunder one should recite SheCocho UGevurato Maaleh Olam and then if later one sees lightning one should recite Oseh Maaseh Beresheet.
- If the storm cleared up completely and there were no clouds and then another storm came, one can recite another Bracha for the lightning and thunder of the next storm, however within one storm one only recites one Bracha unless the storm continues to the next day.
- The Bracha on lightning and thunder must be said within Toch Kedi Dibbur (short period of time). 
- One may recite the Bracha even if one only saw the light from the lightning and didn’t see the bolt. 
- If one’s hands are unclean from going to the bathroom and not washing yet or for going to sleep at night and not having washed yet, and right then one saw lightning or heard thunder, one can’t recite the Bracha. 
- Even one who is in the middle of learning or even giving a shiur should stop to recite this bracha.
- Text of the Bracha on lightning: ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם עושה מעשה בראשית - Baruch Atta Adonay Eloheinu Melech HaOlam Oseh Maaseh Beresheet.
- Text of the Bracha on thunder: ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם שכחו וגבורתו מלא עולם - Baruch Atta Adonay Eloheinu Melech HaOlam SheKocho UGevurato Maaleh Olam.
- The bracha for seeing any ocean is Oseh Maaseh Beresheet.
- One recites a Oseh Maaseh Beresheet for seeing a sea or ocean that is natural and from the time of creation. Therefore, there’s a Bracha for seeing the Kinneret but no bracha for seeing the Dead sea. 
- If one made a bracha upon seeing one ocean and then sees another ocean, one should recite another bracha even if it's within 30 days.
- If one lives close to the ocean even if it has been more than 30 days one shouldn't recite a bracha on seeing that ocean.
- According to Ashkanazim, The bracha for seeing the Atlantic ocean is SheAssa Et HaYam HaGadol. According to Sephardim, this bracha is never made.
- It's preferable, when making the bracha on the Mediterranean ocean to say Oseh Maaseh Beresheet and then add the words Sh'Asah Et HaYam HaGadol within 2-3 seconds.
Seeing a river
- Upon seeing a natural large river one should recite the Bracha of Oseh Maaseh Beresheet, however if there was any human intervention in the building of the river, from that point in the river and on, no Bracha is made. If one is in doubt whether a river was improved or changed with human intervention one shouldn’t recite the Bracha. Most rivers are natural and not changed by man, however, it’s unclear whether one can rely on this assumption. 
- There’s no Bracha upon seeing a waterfall unless it’s part of a large river that’s natural (as above). 
Seeing a Mountain
- Upon seeing mountains that are abnormal and through them one recognizes the strength of Hashem, the Creator, one should recite the Bracha of Oseh Maaseh Beresheet.  However, some poskim believe that this beracha should not be made with Hashem's name. For example, one can recite the Bracha upon seeing the Chermon mountains , Mount Everest , Ararat, or the Alps. 
- If there’s a doubt whether a mountain is considered unique one should recite the Bracha without Shem UMalchut. 
- If one has seen the mountain in the last 30 days, the bracha should not be recited.
- This bracha should not be recited from an airplane where the height of the mountain cannot be appreciated.
Seeing a desert
- Upon seeing a desert one should recite the Bracha of Oseh Maaseh Beresheet.  This Bracha is only made on deserts that people refrain from traveling through because of wild animals and other dangers and this is uncommon except in the very large deserts far from settlement. 
Comet, Meteor or Earthquake
- For seeing a comet, or experiencing an earthquake one should recite the Bracha of Oseh Maaseh Beresheet. 
- If there was a break between one earthquake and the next, another Bracha is required. 
Meteor, Shooting Star, and Eclipses
- Upon seeing a shooting star one recites the beracha of Oseh Maaseh Bereishit.
- If multiple sightings are seen in one night, the beracha is only recited once.
- There is no bracha upon seeing a lunar or solar eclipse.
- For a strong wind as in a hurricane or tornado one should recite the Bracha of Oseh Maaseh Beresheet. 
Questions and Answers
- What bracha should I recite for a hurricane or tornado? #Strong winds
- Mishna Brurah 227:5, Vezot HaBracha (pg 153) in name of Rav Elyashiv
- Mishna Brurah 227:5
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 227:2 writes that one shouldn’t recite another Bracha on thunder and lightning unless the storm has cleared up. Mishna Brurah 227:8 emphasizes that it must have completely cleared up unless it continues to the next day in which case a new Bracha is needed in any case. This is also the opinion of Yalkut Yosef (vol 3 pg 622). Vezot HaBracha (pg 154) in name of Az Nidbaru 6:32 and Rav Moshe Shternbach add that one doesn’t recite a new Bracha in the morning unless one slept and the night has passed.
- Mishna Brurah 227:12
- Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichot Shlomo page 287, Sh"t Minchat Shlomo 2:4:34) writes that one may recite the bracha on lightning even if one only saw the flash from the lightning and not the bolt because one really feels Hashem's greatness and the greatness of His creations even without seeing the bolt. This is quoted in Vezot HaBracha (pg 156). Rav Yacov Kamenetsky in Emes Liyaakov (Siman 227 in the footnote), Sh"t Az Nidberu 6:23, Chazon Ovadia (Berachot page 466), and Sh”t Tzitz Eliezer 12:21 agree.
- Mishna Brurah 227:11, Vezot HaBracha (pg 154), see there for the case of where one needs to go to the bathroom.
- Sh"t Beer Moshe 2:10, A Guide to Practical Halacha (Rabbi Dovid Katz, v. 2 p. 234) quoting Rav Moshe Feinstein. Rav Shay Schachter (shiur, min 0-1) quoted his father, Rav Hershel Schachter as saying that even to interrupt a shiur one should stop to recite a bracha.
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 227:1
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 227:1
- Shulchan Aruch 228:1
- Halichot Shlomo 23:26 (pg 287) writes that one should recite a bracha for seeing the Kinneret but not for seeing the Dead Sea (Yam HaMelech).
- Halichot Shlomo 23:27
- Halichot Shlomo 23:28
- Shulchan Aruch 228:1 writes that for all oceans one recite the bracha of Oseh Maaseh Beresheet except for the Mediterranean which you recite Oseh HaYam haGadol. However, Mishna Brurah 228:2 argues that really the bracha of Oseh HaYam HaGadol should only be made on the Atlantic ocean and all others (including the Mediterranean) only get the bracha of Oseh Maaseh Beresheet. [It's preferable, when making the bracha on the Mediterranean to say Oseh Maaseh Beresheet and then add the words Sh'Asah Et HaYam HaGadol within 2-3 seconds.(VeZot HaBracha pg 154)] For Ashkenazim, the halacha is in accordance with Mishna Brurah as most achronim hold like that opinion; Rav Elyashiv (cited by VeZot HaBracha p. 154) agrees. For Sephardim Yalkut Yosef (Siman 228) writes not to recite the bracha of Oseh HaYam HaGadol on anything because of the dispute (I'm not sure if he would hold that a Oseh Maaseh Beresheet is still made for all oceans).
- VeZot HaBracha (pg 154), Halichot Shlomo (Hilchot Tefillah 23:29)
- S”A 228:2 writes that the Bracha for seeing the four rivers mentioned in the pesukim such as Chidekel and Parat one should recite the Bracha Oseh Maaseh Beresheet. Mishna Brurah 228:4 explains that one should recite the Bracha on any large river that one knows is totally natural and wasn’t changed by man. Mishna Brurah 229:5 adds that if one is in doubt one shouldn’t recite the Bracha, but in Shaar HaTziyun 229:8 he adds that in general rivers are natural but concludes that the practicability is unclear. This is also the opinion of Vezot HaBracha (pg 155).
- Vezot HaBracha (pg 155) in name of Rav Chaim Kanievsky
- S”A 228:3 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 60:5. Orchot Rabbenu (vol 1 pg 94) writes that the Steipler made this Bracha the first time he saw the mountains surrounding Yerushalyim, but stopped afterwards because it didn’t have an impression on him anymore. Piskei Teshuvot 228:4 writes that it’s really dependent on the viewer but on universally accepted unique mountains anyone can recite the Bracha.
- Kitzur Shulchan Aruch with footnotes from Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, siman 60, footnote 4 in the Darche Halacha
- Or Letzion 46:62, and Vezot HaBracha (pg 155) in name of Rav Chaim Kanievsky (see there)
- Birkot Eliyahu (pg 296)
- Aruch HaShulchan 228:1, Piskei Teshuvot 228:4, Vezot HaBracha (pg 155)
- Vezot HaBracha (pg 155)
- Mishna Brura 228:2
- Vizot HaBracha, pg. 155
- S”A 228:1
- Piskei Teshuvot 228:4, Vezot HaBracha (pg 155) in name of Rav Moshe Shternbach
- S”A 257:1 says that for seeing a comet or experiencing an earthquake one should recite Oseh Maaseh Beresheet and if one wants one can recite the Bracha SheCocho UGevurato Maaleh Olam instead. Mishna Brurah 227:6 is clear that it’s either one Bracha or the other but not both. This is also the opinion of Vezot HaBracha (pg 155, chapter 17). Artscroll Siddur just quotes the more primary Bracha quoted in S”A, Oseh מעשה Beresheet.
- Shaarei Teshuva 227:1, Vezot HaBracha (pg 157)
- Mishna Berura 227:1, Chabad.org
- Mishna Berura 227:2
- Rabbi Tendler in Moreshet Moshe v. 2 p. 51 quotes Rav Moshe Feinstein as explaining that there’s no bracha for seeing a solar or lunar eclipse and in fact it is a negative sign. Sh"t Aseh Lecha Rav 150 agrees that a beracha should not be recited because no such beracha is mentioned in the Gemara. see further The Great American Eclipse of 2017: Halachic and Philosophical Aspects
- S”A 227:1, Mishna Brurah 227:4 writes that any wind which is uncommon is sufficient for a Bracha of Oseh Maaseh Beresheet but it would have to another type of wind to recite SheKocho UGevurato Maleh Olam and it's better to always recite Oseh Maaseh Beresheet. Halacha Brurah 227:6 agrees with Mishna Brurah and gives hurricanes and tornadoes as examples. See also Vezot HaBracha (pg 156) who writes that it must be a very strong wind.