Birchat Hachama / "Blessing the Sun"
by Chaya-Bracha Leiter
This year we will be able to participate in a once in 28 year celebration. There is a special blessing thanking G-d for carrying out the acts of creation, said once every 28 years on a certain day (see below) upon seeing the rising sun. It can still be said until the 3rd hour after sun-rise.
1. This blessing is made when the sun returns to the beginning of the yearly solar cycle, and on the same day of the week when it was created. We read in the accounting of creation that on the 4th day (Wednesday) the sun, moon and stars were created. The solar cycle is 365.25 days. 52 weeks multiplied by 7 days =364. Each year is 1.25 days more than exactly 52 weeks. Therefore it takes 28 years for the solar cycle to return to Wednesday in the week. (* Don`t forget the jewish day starts the night before).
2. This blessing is said in the beginning of the spring for a very deep reason. The logic is as follows:
The Tosfos commentary on the Talmud explains that this argument based on there being two beginnings is possible because there were two stages in the creation: 1- the conceiving of the creation as a whole and in detail, and 2- the actual bringing of creation into actuality. Obviously, thought precedes speech and action. The question is in which month was the world conceived in and which month was the world created in? Did Tishrei follow after Nisan or did Nisan follow after Tishrei?
3. The blessing takes on added significance because the year following the Sabbatical year when the land is not worked is called Hakhel (the Gathering Together year). In the times of the holy Temple this gathering was only during the holiday of Succos following the Sabbatical year. Without the temple the entire year is considered time to gather and join forces in great numbers to accomplish our purpose. If praising G-d in great multitudes is important at all times, how much more so in this year of Hakhel. So let us pray that this year won`t be like my fond memory of 28 years ago when my entire community and all the little babies were up and dressed and gathered together waiting for the sun to shine and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting until after about 2 hours the clouds cleared and we all said a very joyous (and relieved ) blessing.
4. The other inspiring aspect of this year is that the blessing will take place the morning before the seder night, on the 14th of Nisan (April 8th ).The first time we said this blessing on the 14th of Nisan was the year we were redeemed from Egypt. The next significant time we said this blessing on the 14th of Nisan was the year of the Purim miracle and this year is the last time this blessing will be said on the 14th of Nisan til the end of the sixth millennium. Therefore it has been predicted that this year the saying of the blessing with great unity will usher in the complete redemption! Amen.
5. Just to note on a practical levelwe must check for chametz the night before and be finished eating our chametz by around 10am (more precisely: 1/3 of the time between sunrise and sunset, which varies locally) and burning it within the following hour. for Seder placement or help in ordering hand-made Shmura Matzos
If you need assistance with Seder placement or in ordering hand-made Shmura Matzos, if in Israel and especially in Safed contact Ascent 04 692-1364. Elsewhere, your near-by Chabad House will be happy to help. Have a kosher and Happy Pesach with redemption from all inhumanity for all humanity-NOW.
Mrs. Chaya-Bracha Leiter is a Torah teacher at Ascent-of-Safed and the chief tour guide. She has been a major part of Ascent's success since its humble beginnings in 1983.
[For the festival that will take place the entire week of Passover, April 8-15 2009,
in honor of this rare once-in-28-years blessing, click here ]