Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 225:8 -----------שולחן ערוך אורח חיים סימן רכה סעיף ח

הרואה...ואת הפיל ואת הקוף מברך בברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם משנה הבריות:

When one sees...a monkey or an elephant , he makes the blessing: "Blessed art Thou Hashem our L-rd King of the universe Who changes the creations".

The following halacha ends with:

ואינו מברך אלא פעם ראשונה שהשינוי עליו גדול מאוד:

One only makes this blessing the first time [in his life which he sees it], when the change to him is very great.

See Mishna Brurah there (29) that this refers also to the previous halacha.

It is for this reason that most people who have been to a zoo as young children, do not make this bracha, when seeing monkeys or elephants later in life. (since their first sighting was when they were not yet mature enough to say a bracha, and this bracha is only said on the first sighting).

Question: Is there any minimum age of which would be called "seeing", which would cause one not to be able to say the bracha on subsequesnt sightings.

If the first time one saw a monkey or elephant was as an newborn/infant child, would this be considered "seeing" and thus he would not be able to make the bracha on any future sightings?

What Does a Newborn Baby See?

The Shulchan Aruch says that the reason one says the bracha only the first time he sees is because שהשינוי עליו גדול מאוד: the change to him is very great. Would the "seeing" of a baby who does not perceive anything about what he is seeing, be considered enough of a seeing to make his next sighting, as a mature person, not valid for a bracha?

  • I don't know what you mean by "most people" but this is far from agreed upon Halakha. The real reason most people don't ever say Mishaneh HaBriyot is because they don't know any of the sight-blessings offhand, except lightning/thunder and maybe rainbows. But you are indeed welcome to ask according to this position. (It's unlikely that you will find a classical source addressing this since the Raavad himself held that generally after the first time it's still a Reshut, seemingly for when you are again awestruck, so it's likely no Rishon held this position.) – Double AA May 29 '18 at 22:30

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