Monday, March 2, 2020

:נ"ט Niagara Falls

הָרוֹאֶה פְּרָת אַגִּשְׁרָא דְבָבֶל, אוֹמֵר: ״בָּרוּךְ … עוֹשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית״. וְהָאִידָּנָא דְּשַׁנְיוּהּ פָּרְסָאֵי — מִבֵּי שַׁבּוּר וּלְעֵיל.
An interesting שאלה that arises for me quite often is whether or not one should make a ברכה when they see Niagara Falls. A significant component of that discussion relates to the above passage. A good friend of mine, Rabbi Mordechai Hochheimer, who used to be a Rav in nearby Rochester, NY wrote an essay on the subject. Unfortunately, the blog no longer exists but Google Cache was able to help restoring the source:

Now, there is an opinion (mentioned in this exchange in the name of R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach) that a natural wonder that "formed later" is not subject to this ברכה since it is not literally part of מעשה בראשית. I have always had difficulty with this approach. When we make the very same ברכה on lightning, this is not a bolt of lightning that HaShem created in the first 6 days. Rather, HaShem infused the בריאה with the energy and power to create these wonders over time. Can the same not be said about natural wonders that were formed naturally over the course of history, without human intervention? Niagara Falls might not have existed when HaShem created the world. But the forces that would eventually make the Falls a reality certainly were.

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