Halacha for Tuesday 25 Tishrei 5781 October 13 2020

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

Megillah Reading- Coronavirus

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is wr......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Hearing Parashat Zachor- Coronavirus

“Remember What Amalek Has Done to You” On the Shabbat preceding Purim, which is this coming Shabbat, after the opening of the Ark immediately following Shacharit prayers, two Sifrei Torah are removed; in the first one, we read the weekly Parasha (which is Parashat Vayikra this year, 577......

Read Halacha

Caution Regarding Chametz Issues

Our Sages (Tosefta Pesachim, Chapter 3) taught: “We inquire about and expound the laws of Pesach from thirty days before Pesach.” Based on this, great rabbis throughout the generations have taken the opportunity to teach the laws of Pesach to the public between Purim and Pesach since eve......

Read Halacha

Silver Vessels

Question: May one continue to use silver vessels or utensils, such as a Kiddush goblet, on Pesach after they have been used throughout the rest of the year? Answer: All vessels used all year round with cold foods or beverages may be used on Pesach after having been thoroughly washed beforehand, f......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Koshering Vessels for Pesach

One may not use Chametz vessels on Pesach since vessels which have been used to cook in or have had hot Chametz placed in them have Chametz flavor absorbed in them. Thus, just as we separate between meat and dairy utensils all year long, we must likewise separate between the utensils we use all year......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Blessing of the Trees

The Proper Time for the Blessing of the Trees Our Sages, who have established the Blessing of the Tress, write that the proper time for this blessing is during the month of Nissan, for it is then that trees begin to blossom and buds come forth. It would seem from the words of our Sages though that ......

Read Halacha

Matanot La’Evyonim- Coronavirus

In the previous Halacha we briefly discussed the Mitzvah of “Matanot La’Evyonim” on Purim day which is the distribution of two monetary gifts, one to each pauper. What Must One Give? In order to fulfill this Mitzvah, one need not give actual gifts; rather, it is permissible to ......

Read Halacha

The Blessing of the Trees

One who goes out during the month of Nissan and sees trees starting to blossom recites the blessing: “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Shelo Chiser Be’Olamo Kelum U’Vara Vo Beriyot Tovot Ve’Ilanot Tovot Le’hanot Bahem Beneh Adam”. This year (5781......

Read Halacha