So I was Davening Outside…
Question. When one hears thunder, the brocha Shekocho Ugvuraso Malei Olam is recited; when one sees lightning the brocha of Oseh Maseh Breishis is recited. If one sees a rainbow, the brocha of Zocher Habris Vneeman B’vriso V’kayam B’maamaro is recited. If someone is in the middle of davening and heard thunder, or saw lightning or a rainbow, should one interrupt their Tefilla and say the respective bracha or should they continue davening, and say the bracha later after a different thunder? Also, how many times does one make a brocha on thunder, lightning or a rainbow, if they hear/see it more than once?
Say it in the moment of the event
Answer. The halacha is one must recite the brocha within toch k’dei dibur of hearing the thunder or seeing the lightning or rainbow – that is within the amount of time it takes to say the words “shalom alecha rebbi umori” (approx. 2 seconds). If two seconds elapse after hearing the thunder, one cannot recite the brocha until the next thunder. The same goes with lightning. Therefore, waiting till after davening to make the brocha won’t work.
The question is whether one can interrupt in middle of davening to make the brocha. Some poskim are of the opinion that since one is busy praising Hashem, one should not interrupt with a different sort of praise, and therefore one should not make the brocha during davening (at a point where one may not talk).
Find the Right time!
However, the accepted halacha is like the opinion that interrupting to make these brachos is permissible, as it’s no less than being mafsik (interrupting) during davening to greet a person that one needs to honor , which is permissible at certain junctures in the Tefila.
If one is bein haprakim (i.e. between brachos of birchas krias shma, or in between different prakim of pesukei d’zimra) one can definitely interrupt and recite the brocha on the thunder or the lightning.
If one is b’emtza haperek (i.e. in middle of a brocha in birchos krias shma, or in middle of a parsha in sh’ma, or in middle of a perek in psukei d’zimra etc.) one should not interrupt to recite the brocha.
That’s only regarding thunder and lightning, since one is not certain that he’ll have the opportunity to make the brocha later on. Regarding one who sees a rainbow, if it’s likely that it will be there after davening, as well, one should preferably wait, and recite the brocha after finishing shmoneh esrei.
Thunder, Lightning, and repeating storms
Now if someone saw lightning and thunder together, one should fulfill the obligation of a brocha on the both of them with one brocha of oseh maaseh breishis (or Shekocho ugvuraso malei olam. Both brachos work for either lightning or thunder; the minhag though is to say oseh maaseh breishis for lightning and shekocho ugvuraso for thunder. When one is saying a brocha on both together, oseh maaseh breishis is preferable).
Regarding how often one can make this brocha, one cannot recite the brocha more than once during the same storm. On the next day, however, even if it’s the same storm the brachos can be repeated. If the sky totally cleared and a new storm came, then even on the same day, the brachos can be repeated on other thunder and lightning. The same halacha would apply to rainbows as well.