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When You Bless Upon A Star

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Bracha on a Comet

Steven W Luger wrote:

With all the excitement about the Hale-Bopp comet, our family went out to see it and recited the Blessing "Oseh Maaseh Bereshit" ["Blessed are You, Hashem … Who makes the works of creation"]. However, in the Mishna it says that the proper blessing is "Shekocho u'gvurato maleh olam" ["…Whose power and might fill the world"]. When did this change occur? And how, if the Mishna has a very specific blessing, can somebody change it? Thanks for your help.

Dear Steven W. Luger,

The Mishna states: "On comets, earth tremors, thunder, storm winds and lightning, say: 'Blessed is He whose strength and might fill the world.' On mountains, hills, rivers, oceans and desserts, say: 'Blessed is He who makes the works of creation.'"

The Talmud explains the Mishna as follows: On mountains, hills, etc., there is only one possible blessing which can be said - namely, "Who makes the works of creation." But on comets, earth tremors, etc., you can say either blessing you want. You can say either "Whose strength and might fill the world" or you can say "Who makes the works of creation." The custom is to say "Who makes the works of creation," but the other one is also acceptable.

Some commentaries understand the Mishna as referring to meteors ('shooting stars'), not comets. In practice, you say a blessing on both comets and meteors.

Speaking of star-gazing:

Gretta: You know, Betty, I have this horrible problem. I fell down and bumped my head last week, and ever since then I've been seeing stars!

Betty: Well, have you seen a doctor?

Gretta: No, just stars.

Sources:

  • Tractate Berachot 54a, 59a
  • Mishna Berurah 227:1


 
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