There’s nothing quite as spectacular on a hot, humid summer day as a thunderstorm. Thick clouds gather, heavy winds blow and a “show” is presented that stimulates all of our senses.
A thunderstorm is both awe-inspiring and frightening. A person is easily reminded of his/her insignificance and vulnerability when compared to the vast powers of nature. In fact, nature can be so overwhelming that it would be easy for a person to attribute to nature a power unto itself. But nature, like all other forces in the universe, is merely one of God’s many tools.
To remind us of the fact that nature is bounded by definitive rules and governed by Divine laws, the sages declared that one should recite specific blessings upon hearing thunder and seeing lightning.
The blessing upon hearing thunder is:
Baruch Atah Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hei’nu Melech ha’olam, sheh'kocho u’gevurato malei olam.
Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, Whose strength and might fills the world.
The blessing upon seeing lightning is:
Baruch Atah Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hei’nu Melech ha’olam, oseh maaseh bereishit.
Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, Who makes the work of creation.
If one hears the thunder and sees the lightning at the same time (putting that person in the heart of the storm!), then only one of the blessings is recited (usually oseh maaseh bereishit).
While thunderstorms remind human beings of the great forces controlled by God, they also bring with them a blessing - the rain that helps the grass grow, the trees flourish, and brings forth the bounty of the earth.