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Thunder in the Night

It is April and real spring has not yet arrived this year. Not a time of year and not a temperature that makes you expect a thunderstorm.

But last night, that was the situation. A thunder so loud, so long…surely every person feels “something” then. “The power of nature” many people will say. “The power of G-d”, say people who trust in Him.

How great is His strength and power that He shows us in His nature. He is truly E’lokim. G-d who through His Word brought forth all creation, nature. A nice fact is that the word “E’lokim” and the Hebrew word “ha’teve”= “nature” have the same gematria value of 86. So see how strongly connected this is.

The question occurred to me whether you can directly connect the name E’lokim to “thunder”. “Thunder” is experienced with your ears, which makes it a second experience to the light associated with thunder.

Hearing is a second experience and light is a first/direct experience. When you see something you are sure it is so, when you hear something it leaves room for your own interpretation and interpretations.

E’lokim is a protective/covering shell around Havayah. If we experienced Havayah – the Light – directly we could not exist, and our free will would disappear completely.

The sequence tonight was reversed for me. I first heard the thunder and only then saw the flash of light, usually it is the other way around. That’s how it goes in human lives too. First we get to know E’lokim through Nature, but slowly that covering goes away and we see more and more of Havayah, the Light. That there is no distinction between Nature and Hashem. This was the phonomeem the people were allowed to experience at Mount Sinai. They heard the light and saw the sound. That must have been an amazing experience. On the other hand, shouldn’t the very act of giving the Torah have been in a serene environment?

Perhaps it is to learn that receiving Torah in daily life is not always without struggle. That it is sometimes accompanied by thunderstorms.

In the event of a natural thunderstorm, we may pronounce the bracha on it, thus declaring G-d’s creative power and might over creation. When there is a thunderstorm in our own lives, we may pray to Him knowing that He has all the power and will help in acting in a way that is most beneficial to us.

The bracha:

When seeing lightning and thunder, there are two blessings to be said (see below):

Blessing A:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, עוֹשֶׂה מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית

Bah-rookh ah-tah ah-doh-noy, eh-loh-hay-noo meh-lehkh hah-oh-lahm oh-say mah-ah-say beh-ray-shit

Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, Who performs the work of creation

Blessing B:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁכֹּחוֹ וּגְבוּרָתוֹ מָלֵא עוֹלָם

Bah-rookh ah-tah ah-doh-noy, eh-loh-hay-noo meh-lehkh hah-oh-lahm sheh-koh-kho oo-geh-voo-rah-toh mah-lay oh-lahm

Blessed are You, G‑d our L‑rd, King of the universe Whose power and might fill the world

For lightning – and other natural phenomena, one says bracha A. When one hears thunder after a flash of lightning one says bracha [after having already said bracha before the flash of lightning] brought B.When one hears the thunder simultaneously while seeing lightning, one only says bracha A. One says the bracht only once per thunderstorm.

By Angelique Sijbolts

Used Sources: Korach Haftorah in a Nutshell, Speeches to Say at a Bar Mitzvah Yitro: The Bracha on Thunder and Lightning

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