Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Brachos On Things You Could Have Seen Last Month, But Didn't

One is not allowed to benefit from the world without making a bracha.  One the pleasures of this world is experiencing feelings of awe.  Ipso facto, we have various brachos on seeing certain natural phenomena.  For example, on seeing the ocean (and some include the Mediterranean Sea), the bracha is (after following the standard recipe): sh'asah hayam hagadol.  Upon seeing a particularly high mountain, or a river whose course has never been changed, or (according to all opinions) the Mediterranean Sea, the bracha is: osei ma'asei b'reishis.  Humans being what they are, feelings of awe quickly subside, and so these brachos are only recited if it has been more than 30 days since the previous exposure to said phenomenon.

What is one lives near the sea/river/mountain and just hasn't seen it for a while (more than 30 days)?  The Halichos Shlomo says that one does not say the bracha again in that situation.  His s'vara is sort of a halichik catch 22: If you've seen in within 30 days, then of course you don't make another bracha.  If it's been more than 30 days then, since you could have gotten over to see it, apparently you are not sufficiently in awe of the sea/river/mountain to make the bracha.  Not being content with a simple s'vara (glatt though it may be), the Halichos Shlomo also bases his p'sak on an analogous p'sak of the Sha'arei T'shuva (O.Ch. 561 sk 2, bsheim shailos u'tshuvos radbaz; as brought in perek 23, d'var halacha 44) regarding tearing k'riya upon seeing the Kosel haMa'arivi.  Namely, that if one lives near the Kosel haMa'arivi but just hasn't seen in within 30 days, then he should not tear k'riya when he sees it again.  As usual, I am only reporting what the Sha'arei T'shuva said; if you are in this situation then you need to consult a rav (obviously).

The p'sak of the Sha'arei T'shuva is given more life by a of ma'aseh brought in the footnotes.  The Sha'arei T'shuva was approached by an individual in Yerushalayim who hadn't seen the Kosel haMa'arivi who hadn't seen it in over 30 days and wanted to know if he should tear k'riya (this is before the Sha'arei T'shuva was published; he was being asked as a rav).  The Sha'arei T'shuva told him one who asked the question (derech tochachah) that he should tear k'riya on the fact that he hadn't felt the loss of the Beis haMikdash deeply enough to visit the Kosel haMa'arivi (and therefore, since we don't do that, he shouldn't tear k'riya on going now).  Once he left, however, the Sha'arei T'shuva told his talmidim (who had witnessed this) that such a person was not worthy to being tearing k'riya at all!

B'ezras HaShem, the Beis haMikdash will be rebuilt soon and in our lifetime so these question will be nothing more than for historical interest.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…