Inspired by:

Is there anywhere in the Halachic literature that lists all of the astronomical (e.g. new moon) and environmental (e.g. lightning) events for which there are blessings and indicates that this an exclusive list? Having such a list handy would make it easier to answer questions such as the above.

  • 1
    You assume it's a fixed number of events. Chazal do give some lists, but it is a machloket of modern day poskim if those lists are exhaustive or examples. (For instance, chazal probably didn't know about auroras, but it would seem to match the trend of what's included in the bracha.)
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 14:20
  • 2
    @DoubleAA Source the machloket, and you've got an answer to "Is there ... ?"
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 14:37
  • PS Did this retroactively inspire your question too? judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/9637/…
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 14:41
  • 1
    @DoubleAA, mikan ulehaba lemafreya'. Thanks!
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 14:45

1 Answer 1


The Shulchan Aruch (OC in the 220's) lists a bunch of natural phenomenon that get special blessings including:

  • Strong rains after an extended drought

  • Blossoming fruit trees

  • Meteors

  • Comets

  • Earthquakes

  • Lightning

  • Thunder

  • Strong winds

  • Seas

  • Rivers (possibly only the four mentioned in Genesis 2)

  • Uniquely tall mountains

  • Uniquely tall cliffs

  • Deserts

  • Rainbows

  • The Sun, Moon, Planets and the constellation Aries at their 'original' locations. We only have a preserved tradition for the sun in this case, which is known as Birkat HaChammah.

The question then becomes, is this list exhaustive or can we add other natural phenomena which Chazal may not have known about (eg. geysers) or may not have considered common enough to list (eg. a volcanic eruption)? In the book Shaar HaAyin (7:6), the author claims that this is currently a matter of dispute between R Chaim Kanievsky and R Shmuel HaLevi Wosner. I note that eclipses may be an exception to the rule as they may be seen (groan) as negative omens and wouldn't get a blessing according to either side (see my answer here).

I further suggest that this might parallel a similar argument about whether the blessing "Mishaneh HaBeriyot" which the Talmud says can be said on an elephant or a monkey needs to be said on only those two, or if they are general indicators of unusual animals. This too is a matter or dispute, with Rs Shlomo Zalman Aurbach, Nissim Karelitz, and Moshe Shternbuch permitting and Rs Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Chaim Kanievsky forbidding (Shaar HaAyin 15:6).


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