Birchat Hachama / "Blessing the Sun"

by Chaya-Bracha Leiter

Thirty days before the holiday a jew is to begin to learn the laws and prepare for the holiday .Pesach is –- of course -- THE holiday that needs early preparations, starting right after Purim. One of the most important preparations is to make sure every Jew has what they need to celebrate the holiday, especially wine and (preferably hand made Shmura) Matzot

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:

A-the question.
There is an argument in the Talmud -- Rabbi Yehoshua says the world was created in Nisan (the month in which Passover occurs) because the Torah says that Nisan is the head of the months. Rabbi Eliezer says the world was created in Tishrei and thatis why we refer to Rosh Hashanah (which is in Tishrei) in our prayers as “The beginning of YOUR deeds”. In practicality, we posit Tishrei to be the start of the year while Nisan is the first of all months and seasons.

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?

B-the resolution.
Rosh Hashanah, which falls on the first day of Tishrei, is the judgment of the world. Mankind is the only creation that can improve or destroy the world. Therefore the Day of Judgment is the day man began to act in the world - i.e. the beginning of actual creation. In Nisan the world was conceived in its entirety.

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 level—we 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 ]




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