Blessing on Natural Wonders
We will be traveling to Switzerland on vacation. When you visit the gorgeous mountains, is there a special blessing to recite?
The Aish Rabbi Replies
When seeing unusually shaped or beautiful mountains, that one can readily recognize as a wonder of God, one should recite the following blessing (Code of Jewish Law - O.C. 228:1,3):
"Boruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha'Olam, Oseh Ma'aseh Breishit"
Blessed are You God, King of the universe, who forms the works of Creation."
- This blessing may only be recited by one who is awed by the height of the mountain. Therefore, one who is not impressed with such mountains (perhaps as a result of familiarity) does not recite the blessing. (Orchat Rabbeinu 1:117, citing Chazon Ish)
- Similarly, this blessing should not be recited from an airplane where the height of the mountain cannot be appreciated. (V'Zot HaBracha, p. 155)
- If the mountain was seen in the past 30 days, the blessing is not recited. (Mishnah Berurah 228:2)
This reminds me of a story:
Near end of his life, Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch announced that he was going to tour Switzerland on foot. His students were shocked, and tried to dissuade him from risking his health.
Rabbi Hirsch explained: "When I come before Almighty, I will have to answer for many things. But what will I tell Him when He asks me, "Shimshon, did you see My Alps?"
Here's wishing you a safe and pleasant trip!