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By Rabbi Dr. Azriel Rosenfeld | Series: | Level:

Every blessing (see 6:3) must begin with the words “Blessed are You, HA-SHEM, our G-d, King of the universe…”; see 5:1 and 214:1. It is forbidden to recite an unnecessary blessing (215:4). If an inappropriate blessing is recited, it should be followed by “Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom forever”; if only the words “Blessed are You, HA-SHEM” were said inappropriately, they should be concluded with “teach me your laws” (Psalms 119:12; see 206:6). Blessings should be recited audibly if possible, and may be recited in any language (206:3). They must not be recited with an uncovered head (see 74:2), with unwashed hands, or in the presence of nudity (8:10;206:3). A person who hears someone else recite a blessing must say “Amen” (see 6:4 and 198:1), unless the person reciting the blessing is an unbeliever or is reciting it unnecessarily, unintentionally or incorrectly; see 215:2-4. On cases in which “Amen” is said after one’s own blessing see 215:1 and 236:4.

The blessing “…Who performed a miracle in this place” is recited on seeing, for the first time in 30 days (218:3;224:13), a place where a miracle was performed for the Jewish people (218:1-3) or for a specific person (see 218:2,7-8;224:3). Similarly, a person recites a blessing on seeing a place where a miracle was performed for him or for one of his ancestors or teachers, or on seeing a person for whom a miracle was performed (218:4-6), especially if the miracle involved a supernatural event; see 218:9. Blessings are also recited on seeing places where good or evil institutions were established or abolished (see 224:1-4,10-11) and on seeing graves (see 224:12).

A person who has made an ocean or desert voyage (or other dangerous trip; see 219:7), or who has been released from prison, or who has recovered from a dangerous illness (see 219:8), recites the blessing “…Who bestowed all good on me” (219:1-2), preferably within three days (219:6). For other kinds of narrow escapes, the blessing is recited without mentioning G-d’s Name (219:9). The blessing should be recited in the presence of ten adult male Jews; it is customary to recite it after the Torah reading (see 219:3). On reciting it for another person see 219:4-5.

A person who has had a bad dream should tell three friends about it; both he and they should say that the dream has a good interpretation (220:1). He may also recite a special prayer during the priestly blessing or the repetition of the last blessing of SHEMONEH ESREH (130:1; see Ch.7). The effect of a bad dream can be annulled by fasting the next day; this may be done even on the Sabbath (220:2).

A person who hears news that is good only for him recites the blessing “…Who kept us alive…”; if it is also good for others, he recites “…Who is good and does good” (222:1). These blessings are also recited when rain falls after a drought (see 221:1-2), after the birth of a child (see 223:1), or after acquiring significant new property (see 223:3-6). On new clothes, in particular, see 223:4,6; on the blessing when a child becomes an adult see 225:2. A person who hears bad news recites the blessing “…the true Judge” (222:2); he must recite it sincerely and whole-heartedly (222:3). For examples of events that have both good and bad consequences see 222:4 and 223:2. “…Who kept us alive…” is also recited on events that occur infrequently — for example, on seeing a loved one after a long absence (see 225:1-2), or on seeing or eating a fruit that is available only occasionally (see 225:3-7), or on a holiday.

Blessings are also recited on seeing unusual things, such as very large groups of people (see 224:5); scholars (see 224:6-7); kings (see 224:8-9); physically unusual people or animals (that have not been seen for 30 days; see 225:8-9); or unusually beautiful people, animals, or plants (see 225:10). A special blessing is recited when fruit trees flower in the spring; see 226:1.

The blessings “…Who does the work of creation” and “…Whose power and might fill the universe” are recited for such phenomena as comets, earthquakes, thunder, lightning, and heavy storms (227:1-3). The first of these is also recited on seeing great rivers, seas, oceans, mountains, valleys, or deserts (see 228:1-3), as well as on seeing the sun on the first Wednesday morning after the vernal equinox every 28th year, in commemoration of the sun’s creation (see 229:2). Special blessings are recited on seeing the ocean (228:1) or a rainbow (229:1; a person should not look at a rainbow for a long time).

A person should give thanks for things that have already happened, and should pray that future events will turn out well (see 230:1-2); he should accustom himself to saying that everything G-d does is for the best (230:5). A person’s activities and dealings should all be performed in the service of G-d; when he takes care of his needs, he should do so for the purpose of making him fit to serve G-d (231:1).

Shulchan Aruch, Copyright (c) 2000 Project Genesis, Inc.