Halacha for Wednesday 26 Tishrei 5781 October 14 2020

One Who Hears Thunder at Night

Question: If one hears thunder at night while sleeping, may one recite the blessing on thunder without washing his hands? Also, must one recite a blessing on lightning every time one sees it or is once a day sufficient?

Answer: In the previous Halacha we have established that 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 Shekocho Ugvurato Maleh Olam.” We have written that one must recite these blessings immediately upon seeing the lightning or hearing the thunder or at the very least, within approximately two seconds of their occurrence. Once this time has passed, one may not recite the blessing any longer; rather, one should wait for the next thunder or lightning in order to recite the blessing.

One should not recite the blessings on thunder or lightning more than once a day unless the clouds (of the storm) completely disperse, the sun shines, and the sky once again becomes cloudy, in which case one may recite the blessing again although one has recited it earlier on that day. If the night has passed, even if the clouds have not dispersed, one may recite the blessings on thunder and lightning again. (There is no connection between the two blessings and even if one has not seen lightning, one may nevertheless recite a blessing upon hearing thunder.)

We must point out though that in his lectures, Maran zt”l did not mention this Halacha of being able to recite the blessings of thunder and lightning again if the clouds disperse. When asked about this, Maran replied that this was because most people are not that meticulous and learned enough to know exactly when it is considered that the clouds have dispersed and for this reason, he did not mention it at all.

If one hears thunder while sleeping and wakes up from it and wishes to recite the blessing but if he goes to wash his hands, the time to recite the blessing will already have passed, one may recite the blessing immediately while still in bed after having rubbed one’s hands against one’s clothing or blanket (out of cleanliness).

Summary: One may only recite the blessings on thunder and lightning once a day. One who hears thunder while lying in bed at night should rub his hands in his clothing or blanket and then immediately recite the blessing on thunder.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Eight Levels of Tzedakah

The Rambam (Chapter 10 of Hilchot Matenot Aniyim) writes that there are eight levels included in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah with each one being greater than the other. The highest level of Tzedakah is by helping to support a Jew who lacks his basic needs by providing him with money by means of a gif......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah and Donating a Tenth of One’s Earnings

By popular demand, we shall now discuss the topics of Tzedakah and donating a tenth of one’s earnings more broadly based on the words of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch and the Poskim and based on what is written in the works of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l on this topic. Question: ......

Read Halacha

Question: Are those who customarily donate a tenth of their monthly income to Tzedakah permitted to deduct the cost of providing for their children still living at home from the sum of this ten percent?

Answer: We have previously discussed that one must donate a certain amount of Tzedakah annually. It is a “middle” level for one to give a tenth of one’s monthly profits every month. Now let us deal with our question regarding those who donate a tenth of their monthly profits to Tze......

Read Halacha

How Much Tzedakah One Must Donate

The Rambam, Tur, and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch write that the amount one should donate for Tzedakah is, if one can afford it, based on the necessities of the needy people. This means that if one is extremely wealthy and can provide for the needs of poor people in one’s city, one should ind......

Read Halacha


The Privilege to Donate Tzedakah

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed how the prophet Yirmeya requested from Hashem that when the wicked wish to donate Tzedakah, he should present them with unworthy people. This means that the Tzedakah funds should go to unworthy causes, such as cheaters and con-artists. As such, the wicked w......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah

The Tur (Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 247) writes: “There is a positive Torah commandment for one to donate some of one’s money to charity, based on one’s individual capabilities. In addition to the fact that whoever donates charity fulfills a positive Torah commandment, one who abst......

Read Halacha

Unworthy Individuals

In the previous Halachot, we have explained the primary aspects of the Mitzvah of Tzedakah. If one transgresses any prohibition in the Torah and does not repent, for instance, if one is aware of the prohibition of shaving one’s beard with a razor and he nevertheless does so or one who dese......

Read Halacha

Who is Obligated in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah?

Every member of the Jewish nation must donate Tzedakah. Even a pauper who receives Tzedakah, has no way of earning a livelihood, and only lives off of what others provide him with must give Tzedakah from what others give him. When the Sages of Israel had control over the Jewish nation, the Jewish co......

Read Halacha