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The term "ma'aseh breishit" means, literally "the makings (or creations) of the beginning." The "beginning" seems to me, to refer to the first 6 days of creation.

Certain things that we recite "Oseh Ma'aseh Breishit" were not mentioned as having been created during the first 6 days, for example, comets and meteors (what we see as "shooting stars").

Lightning, in particular, is a curiosity. We associate lightning with thunderstorms. Genesis 2:5 says:

וְכֹ֣ל ׀ שִׂ֣יחַ הַשָּׂדֶ֗ה טֶ֚רֶם יִֽהְיֶ֣ה בָאָ֔רֶץ וְכָל־עֵ֥שֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה טֶ֣רֶם יִצְמָ֑ח כִּי֩ לֹ֨א הִמְטִ֜יר יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹהִים֙ עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְאָדָ֣ם אַ֔יִן לַֽעֲבֹ֖ד אֶת־הָֽאֲדָמָֽה׃

No shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprung up; for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground;

Usually, thunderstorms and lightning are associated with rain. While it is possible to have lightning without rain, and there might have been thunderclouds with no rain, it is unclear that either clouds or lightning were created during the first 6 days.

If so, why do we say "Oseh Ma'aseh Breishit" on these items?

I am making a parallel argument to this M.Y. question . One answer states that because the rainbow wasn't created during the first 6 days of creation, it gets a different bracha.

  • That it had not yet rained upon earth does not mean lightning had not yet been created. Lightning is caused by static electricity and rain is one way that happens but doesn't necessarily have to be the only way. I think lightning was therefore created on the first day with light, and the concept of energy in general. – CashCow Jun 23 '15 at 11:11
  • Other things you mention (comets etc) are part of a solar system and were created on the 4th day. – CashCow Jun 23 '15 at 11:12
  • @CashCow Comets are part of the solar system, but then, it leads to the question as to why we make a special bracha on it. We don't make a bracha on seeing other stars (which are not part of the solar system except for the sun for which we make a special bracha for it (different reason))or any of the other planets. – DanF Jun 23 '15 at 13:10
  • We say a b'racha on the sun every 28 years. We make a b'racha over the moon (kiddush levana) every month. I've made both those b'rachas in my time, I've never yet made one on Halley's Comet but maybe you know someone who has – CashCow Jun 23 '15 at 13:29
  • @CashCow I believe Mishna Brurah includes comets as getting "Oshe Ma'aseh Breishit". If I find the exact source, I'll let you know, later. Hopefully, someone will discover another visible comet before Haley's next visit, so that you and I can make the bracha. Its last visit was very disappointing. – DanF Jun 23 '15 at 13:35
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Rav Ovadia Bartenura addresses your question regarding lighting (Brachos 9:2) s.v. ברוך שכוחו מלא עולם. Quoting Brachos 59a, he points to Tehilim 135:7 "He made lightning for the rain."

Regarding Bereishis saying it hadn't rained yet, those events (including the subsequent rain) still happened on the sixth day (according to Rashi for sure).

Regarding the shooting stars, the nature of the phenomenon is address in Brachos 58b. I'm not really familiar with the terminology and concepts in that part of the Talmud, but if you look at Rashi and the Maharsha there, it seems to have something to do with the atmosphere rather than the rock itself.

  • Thanks. Interesting synthesis of ideas. I need to digest all this a bit more. – DanF Jun 23 '15 at 2:04
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Stars were created in the 6 days of creation. Bereishis 1:16 says:

וַיַּעַשׂ אֱלֹקים אֶת שְׁנֵי הַמְּאֹרֹת הַגְּדֹלִים אֶת הַמָּאוֹר הַגָּדֹל לְמֶמְשֶׁלֶת הַיּוֹם וְאֶת הַמָּאוֹר הַקָּטֹן לְמֶמְשֶׁלֶת הַלַּיְלָה וְאֵת הַכּוֹכָבִים

And G-d made ... and the stars

Bereishis Rabba 46:4 says that these stars "escorted" the moon, which means they were moving along with it, and not just stationary objects.

Midrashically we find that rain (and by your association, lightning) was present in the 6 days of creation. Rashi to Bereishis 2:5 cites the Talmud in Chulin 60b:

כי לא המטיר: ומה טעם לא המטיר, לפי שאדם אין לעבוד את האדמה ואין מכיר בטובתם של גשמים, וכשבא אדם וידע שהם צורך לעולם התפלל עליהם וירדו, וצמחו האילנות והדשאים:

As it had not rained - and what is the reason it hadn't rained? Because man was not there to work the land, and there was no one to recognize the benefit of rain. And when Man came and knew it was necessary, he prayed for it and it came down and the trees and plants sprouted.

  • Re "stars" - these refer to stationary objects. "Shooting stars" are not stars - they are caused by the friction of rocks entering the earth's atmosphere. Comets are also not actual stars. The verse regarding rain does not address when lightning was created. – DanF Jun 22 '15 at 20:11
  • @DanF I don't think the Torah was as interested in such essentially arbitrary distinctions as you are, but I addressed your claim in my edit. As an aside, do you have some other suggestion of when these were created, in light of the first verse of Bereishis ch. 2, which says everything was completed in the 6 days? – Y     e     z Jun 22 '15 at 20:13
  • Claim re lightning - fair enough, and, possibly comets as they have properties similar to stars. Meteors, perhaps, also, depending on when other planets were created, as that would probably include the asteroid belt having been created at the same time. – DanF Jun 22 '15 at 20:17
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    @yEz So would an astronaut seeing a rock fly by say Oseh Maaseh Vereishit on it even before it burns up? You seem to be saying that the bracha is on the rock which was around since Creation, just it's a coincidence of friction that we can see it now. – Double AA Jun 22 '15 at 21:11
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    You seem to say that since the stars were created then, and the rock is a star, that seeing the rock is seeing an original Creation. That's how I read your answer. How else can you say that this shooting star is from Creation? – Double AA Jun 22 '15 at 21:39

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