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1215 – Birchos Hodaah – (Klal 63 Siman 3) – Oseh Maaseh Bereishis 4; Rivers, Seas and Mountains 2

D'var Halacha
D'var Halacha
1215 - Birchos Hodaah - (Klal 63 Siman 3) - Oseh Maaseh Bereishis 4; Rivers, Seas and Mountains 2
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 We are continuing in siman 3. We learned yesterday that the correct bracha on a sea is oseh maaseh bereishs. The Mishnah brings the opinion of Rav Yehuda that the correct bracha on the yam hagadol is she’asah es hayam hagadol. Many meforshim understand that Rav Yehuda is not coming to argue on the first opinion, but to add to it. Therefore, many poskim, including the Shulchan Aruch, pasken in accordance with Rav Yehuda. The Chayei Adam does not mention this bracha at all.

The question is what is meant by the yam hagadol. The Shulchan Aruch writes that it refers to the Mediterranean Sea, and it is called the yam hagadol because it is connected to Eretz Yisroel. However, the Mishnah Berurah points out that many poskim understand the yam hagadol to be referring to the Oceanus, including the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 

The Biur Halacha points out that if one recites oseh maaseh bereishis on the yam hagadol (according to ether opinion) they are for sure yotzei, but if they recite she’asah es hayam hagadol on an ocean which is not the yam hagadol, they are not yotzei. Therefore, it is possible that the Chayei Adam did not bring down this bracha is due to the safeik regarding which sea it is made on, and writes what will work in all situations.

The Mishnah Berurah seems to indicate that she’asah es hayan hagadol is made on the Atlantic and Pacific. Rav Elyashiv ztl is on record holding this way as well.

 The bracha is made once every 30 days, even if one sees a different body of water within that time. However, if one saw a lake or sea and made the bracha oseh maaseh bereishis, and then sees an ocean which receives the bracha of she’ashah es hayam hagadol, they may make the second bracha.

 Many waterways are connected. If there is a large connection between two bodies of water, they are considered as one. For example, many poskim consider the Gulf of Mexico to be a part of the Atlantic Ocean, so the correct bracha on the Gulf would be she’asah es hayam hagadol.

Regarding Niagara Falls, we learned that the Mishnah does not mention making this bracha on a waterfall, even though there were waterfalls in Eretz Yisroel at the time of the Mishnah. There is an opinion that one can make the bracha because it is the meeting point of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. However, this is geographically inaccurate. There is a 26 mile river between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and Niagara Falls is in the middle of the river. It is not possible to see either lake from the Falls, so one cannot make the bracha.

 Summary

  • The bracha of she’asah es hayam hagadol is made on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
  • The bracha of oseh maaseh bereishis and she’asah es hayam hagadol are made once every 30 days, even if one sees a different body of water within that time.
  • A waterway which is connected to a larger body of water through a large connection will receive the bracha of the larger body of water. For example, the Gulf of Mexico receives the bracha of she’asah es hayam hagadol.

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