View Full Version : Blessing the sun

04-07-2009, 02:50 PM
Once, every twenty-eight years, the sun (in relation to the earth) "moves" into the exact position it occupied in the sky on the Fourth Day of Creation. That happens again tomorrow and Jews around the world say Birkat HaChama [Blessing of the Heater (a poetic term in Hebrew for the sun)].


04-07-2009, 03:21 PM
How do they know that the Sun was in that particular area in the sky when it was created?

04-07-2009, 03:41 PM
How do they know that the Sun was in that particular area in the sky when it was created?

Answer #1: I think they probably don't. It is a tradition though. In my experience, outside of certain very insular sects, most Jews observing this rite recognize that it is a custom based on early astronomical observation that is more meaningful than it is accurate. Even Orthodox Jews I know who see this is ritually obligatory are ok with it.

Answer #2: Ancient Rabbis had about as good understanding of astronomy as any of their contemporaries (Greeks in particular who they probably got a lot of it from), although it isn't precisely accurate. I have seen the Talmudic references to it though and it is interesting, but the language to some degree assumes that tomorrow should be the vernal equinox, which it isn't. With that, they calculated (I assume based on generations in the bible mixed with specific hermeneutics on verses in the text; although they could have had a different tradition) backwards.

04-07-2009, 04:04 PM
As 613's post implies, it's not so simple a question.

Here's the long answer.


04-08-2009, 01:33 AM
We did it this morning. As the sun rose, I closed my eyes and said the relevant Psalms. The red-yellow light filled the insides of my eyelids and I felt myself bathing in the warmth of the sun.

By the way, a slight correction: HaChama means "the hot (one/thing)."