Halacha for Wednesday 17 Cheshvan 5781 November 4 2020

The Blessing of “She’Kacha Lo Be’Olamo”

Question: Regarding the “She’Kacha Lo Be’Olamo” blessing, is this blessing recited at all and if so, when is it recited? Also, is Hashem’s name mentioned in this blessing?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (58b) states: “If one sees beautiful creatures, one recites the blessing of ‘She’Kacha Lo Be’Olamo.’” The Rif, Rambam, Rosh, other Rishonim, and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 225) all rule likewise. It is apparent from their words that one recites this blessing even upon seeing an especially handsome non-Jew or an especially beautiful animal.

The Aruch Ha’Shulchan writes that this applies to one who sees pleasant creatures that are “extraordinarily beautiful”; the excitement upon seeing such a creature requires one to recite the “She’Kacha Lo Be’Olamo” blessing. This blessing is therefore not recited every time one sees an especially handsome person; rather, this blessing is only recited upon seeing a person who is extremely and uniquely handsome or a beautiful animal that is absolutely riveting.

Although we have written that one may not look into the face of a wicked individual and this would therefore call into question how one could recite this blessing upon seeing an extremely handsome non-Jew who does not observe the Seven Noachide Laws, there is nevertheless no prohibition to look without overly contemplating, as we have written in the past. Thus, if one sees in passing an extremely handsome person, even if this person is wicked, one must recite the “She’Kacha Lo Be’Olamo” blessing.

We have also explained based on the Gemara in Masechet Berachot (40b) that any blessing which does not include mention of Hashem’s name and kingship is not considered a blessing at all. The same applies to the blessing of “She’Kacha Lo Be’Olamo” which must include the words “Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam” similar to all other blessings.

Nevertheless, one should not recite this blessing every time one sees an especially beautiful creature; rather, this only applies the first time one sees such a creature, for instance, the first time one sees an especially handsome person or an especially beautiful horse whose looks are truly striking. However, once one recites this blessing, one may never recite it again, even if one sees another truly beautiful creature. One may only recite this blessing again if one sees a creature that is more beautiful than the first creature one had recited this blessing on.

The Eliyah Rabba writes that based on the Gemara, one must recite this blessing even when one sees an especially beautiful woman. Although it is forbidden to gaze at a woman’s beauty, nevertheless, other women may recite this blessing upon seeing this woman’s beauty. Similarly, if a man happens to glance and see an extremely beautiful woman in passing, he may recite this blessing since such glancing does not constitute any prohibition, for only gazing intently is forbidden, but merely glancing is not.

Summary: The “She’Kacha Lo Be’Olamo” blessing must include mention of Hashem’s name and kingship like other blessings. One recites this blessing upon seeing an extraordinarily beautiful creature: man, woman, or animal. One should never recite this blessing again unless one sees an even more beautiful creature than the creature one saw originally.

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