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

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