Halacha for Monday 11 Kislev 5779 November 19 2018

The Blessings on Thunder and Lightning

One who sees lightning recites the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Oseh Ma’aseh Bereshit.” One who hears thunder recites the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam She’Kocho Ugvurato Maleh Olam.”

Until When Can One Recite these Blessings?
One must recite these blessings immediately following seeing the lightning or hearing the thunder. One may only recite these blessings within approximately two seconds (“Toch Kedei Dibbur”) of seeing the lightning or hearing the thunder; if this time has passed, one should not recite the blessing and should merely wait for another lightning or thunder.

Should One Recite the Name of Hashem Within the Blessing?
The Rishonim disagree whether the blessings on thunder and lightning should include Hashem’s name (i.e. the words “Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam”) or not. The Ra’avad is of the opinion that these blessings should be recited without Hashem’s name, for instance, “Baruch She’Kocho Ugvurato Maleh Olam.” Nevertheless, most Rishonim disagree with the Ra’avad and rule that these blessings should include Hashem’s name just like any other blessing, as the Gemara (Berachot 40b) states that any blessing which does not contain Hashem’s name and kingship is not a blessing. Maran Rabbeinu Yosef Karo rules likewise in his Shulchan Aruch that these blessings should include Hashem’s name just like any other blessing that we recite.

The Opinion of the Petach Ha’Devir and the Opinion of Maran zt”l
Hagaon Harav Chaim Binyamin Pontrimoli, author of the Sefer Petach Ha’Devir, writes that there are those who customarily recite the blessing of “Oseh Ma’aseh Bereshit” without mentioning Hashem’s name upon hearing thunder. Originally, he was perplexed about this custom, for any blessing which does not contain Hashem’s name is not a blessing. Later, however, he found a basis for this custom which is that since one must recite the blessing immediately upon hearing the thunder and if one did not do so immediately, one may only do so until approximately two seconds later and not everyone is able to be so exact in addition to the fact that there are several other disagreements regarding these blessings which require great expertise, the custom has become to omit Hashem’s name from these blessings so that the name of Hashem is not uttered in vain. He concludes by saying that if one is an expert in Halacha, one should indeed recite these blessings with Hashem’s name, as per the original establishment of our Sages.

On the other hand, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rebuffs the above and rules that since the Halachot regarding these blessings are common-knowledge in addition to the fact that no great expertise is required to realize the time limit for these blessings, the Halacha follows the original enactment of our Sages which is to include the name of Hashem in these blessings, in accordance with the opinion of the Poskim and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch. This is one of the Halachot which Maran zt”l established for generations which is that everyone should become accustomed to recite these blessings with Hashem’s name in accordance with the opinion of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch. As a result of Maran zt”l’s ruling, many have indeed changed their custom and began to recite these blessings with Hashem’s name.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Lighting Chanukah Candles on Motza’ei Shabbat and Electric Chanukah Candles

On Motza’ei Shabbat Chanukah, in the synagogue, Chanukah candles are lit first and only following this is Havdala recited in order to delay the departure of Shabbat as much as possible. Although the one lighting the Chanukah candles removes the sanctity of Shabbat from himself, nevertheless, t......

Read Halacha

The Proper Time to Light Chanukah Candles

One should preferably light Chanukah candles immediately when the stars appear in the sky, which is approximately fifteen minutes after sunset during this time of year. Some Ashkenazim, however, customarily light at sunset. The Earliest Possible Time to Light Chanukah Candles Chanukah candles sh......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Women and Zimun

We have explained the primary laws of Zimun that if three men eat a bread meal together, they must perform a Zimun before reciting Birkat Hamazon. This is done by the leader proclaiming, “Nevarech She’Achalnu Mishelo” and the others replying, “Baruch She’Achalnu Mishelo......

Read Halacha

The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah. The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women cu......

Read Halacha


The Proper Time for Lighting Chanukah Candles On Erev Shabbat

Praying Mincha Before Lighting Candles On the Friday afternoon of Chanukah, it is preferable to pray Mincha before lighting the Chanukah candles. The reason for this is because the Mincha prayer was established in the place of the daily “Tamid” sacrifice that was brought in the Bet Hami......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Zimun

The Mishnah in Masechet Berachot (45a) states that three who have eaten a bread meal together must perform a “Zimun” before reciting Birkat Hamazon. “Zimun” is performed by one of the three reciting, “Nevarech She’Achalnu Mishelo” at which point the others a......

Read Halacha

The Obligation of Women Regarding Chanukah Candles

Although women are generally exempt from all positive, time-bound Mitzvot, such as the Mitzvah of Shofar on Rosh Hashanah and Sukkah and Lulav on Sukkot, they are nevertheless obligated to light Chanukah candles, for they were also included in the miraculous salvation of the Jewish nation on the hol......

Read Halacha

Embarking on a Sea Voyage on a Jewish Vessel on Shabbat

Question: May one board an Israeli ship whose captain and crew are mostly Jewish if one knows that the voyage will continue on Shabbat as well? Answer: Boarding a Ship Traveling on Shabbat The law of boarding a ship when one knows that the ship will be in the middle of the sea on Shabbat is ......

Read Halacha