Halacha Date: 24 Sivan 5778 June 7 2018
Question: If one sees a cemetery every day while travelling by car near the entrance to Jerusalem, must one recite the blessing of “Asher Yatzar Etchem Be’Din” every time one sees it?
Answer: Indeed, one who sees Jewish graves must recite the blessing of “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Asher Yatzar Etchem Be’Din Ve’Zan Etchem Be’Din Ve’Yode’a Mispar Kulechem Ve’Hu Atid Le’Hachayotchem Ul’Kayem Etchem Baruch Ata Hashem Mechaye Ha’Metim” while looking at them. (The translation of this blessing is: Blessed are You Hashem, our G-d, King of the Universe, who has formed you with justice and sustained you with justice and knows the number of you all; He shall one day resurrect you and cause you to exist. Blessed are You Hashem, He who resurrects the dead.) Nevertheless, only one who has not seen these graves for the last thirty days recites this blessing; however, if one has seen the graves during the last thirty days and is now seeing the same graves again, one does not recite the blessing. Thus, regarding our question, one who sees Jewish graves on Har Ha’Menuchot (a large cemetery at the entrance to Jerusalem) every day as one is driving into Jerusalem would not recite a blessing upon seeing the graves unless thirty days have passed since one has last seen these graves and recited the blessing last.
Another point we must raise regarding our question is that even if thirty days have indeed passed since one has last seen these graves, one may still not recite the blessing upon seeing the graves based on what the Tosefta says, “If one walks in a cemetery, one recites the blessing of ‘Asher Yatzar Etchem Be’Din’ etc.” This implies that only if one comes as close as possible to the graves would one recite the blessing; however, if one merely sees the graves from afar, one would not recite the blessing. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules likewise in his Chazon Ovadia-Berachot (page 420) that one must actually be standing near the graves in order to recite this blessing. This seems to be the opinion of Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l as well.
Summary: If one sees Jewish graves, one recites the blessing of “Asher Yatzar Etchem Be’Din.” This blessing is recited only once every thirty days. Nevertheless, if one sees other graves in the meantime (for instance, if one travels to visit the graves of righteous individuals), one should indeed recite this blessing again. This blessing is only recited when one is actually near the graves; however, if one merely sees the graves from afar as one is travelling, one does not recite this blessing. May we merit seeing the Resurrection of the Dead speedily in our days, Amen.