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A Bloggers’ Guide

to

Birkas Ha-Chamah

edited by
Gil Student
Ezzie Goldish
A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 2

Table of Contents

Rebbetzin’s Husband ................................................................................................... 3
Birkat haChamah/Blessing the Sun 2009, Erev Pesach, and Bad Astronomy, Part I . 3
Birkat haChamah/Blessing the Sun 2009, Erev Pesach, Part II ................................. 5
Birkat haChamah / Blessing the Sun 2009 Erev Pesach, Part III ............................... 7
Hirhurim – Musings .................................................................................................... 9
The Misunderstood Blessing On The Sun ................................................................ 9
Birkas Ha-Chamah Books...................................................................................... 15
Yehuda Goldreich...................................................................................................... 17
HaChama Betkufata: An Overview of Birkat HaChama ......................................... 17
Ben Chorin ................................................................................................................ 34
Shoot me for saying this ........................................................................................ 34
A Simple Jew ............................................................................................................ 36
Question & Answer With Rafi G. - Birchas HaChama ........................................... 36

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3 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

Rebbetzin’s Husband
Birkat haChamah/Blessing the Sun 2009, Erev Pesach, and Bad
Astronomy, Part I*
If you thought last year’s (2008) Erev Pesach was unusual, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
Next year we have, of all things, Birkas haChamah on Erev Pesach - Wednesday April
8, 2009.

Yes, you heard me right - we will be reciting a once-in-28-years blessing, and it will fall
out on Erev Pesach, of all days. In the morning, specifically. Right after the siyyum for
the firstborn. While we’re trying to get rid of all of our chametz, and prepare Pesach
food. And the Seder. And a 3-day Yom Tov.

I have to think that we’re going to organize a communal celebration for Birkas haChamah
- how could you not do that, for something that comes up less than 4 times per century?
So it’s going to be a huge, massively fun, mess.

And, of course, it likely will rain (or snow?) just to wreck Birkas haChamah, put out the
Chametz fire, and make life in general more chaotic.

And do you want to hear the funniest part? Birkas haChamah, according to some very big
halachic names of the past few centuries, is observed on the wrong day.

Don’t hang me for a heretic; let’s look at the sources:

Talmud Bavli, Berachos 59b:
The sages taught: One who sees the Sun , the Moon in its strength and the stars in
their paths and the constellations in their order says “Blessed is the Creator of Bereishit.”
Which is followed by Abayye’s explanation:
When is this? Abbaye said: Every twenty-eight years, when the machzor returns and the
tekufah of Nisan occurs in Saturn, on the night after the third day, the beginning of the
fourth.
In other words: The sun, as seen from Earth, is said to pass through various Houses in the
heavens. When we see the Sun return to the beginning of the House in which it was
created - a point in space we calculate based on our calendar calculations - then we recite
this berachah.

Note: The Yerushalmi (Berachos 9:2) cites the view of R’ Chuna who disagrees in
explaining what this blessing is all about: Rabbi Chuna said: This is only in the rainy

* Thursday, April 24, 2008, http://rechovot.blogspot.com/2008/04/birkat-hachamahblessing-sun-
2009-erev.html

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 4

season, after three days. (See Chasam Sofer Orach Chaim 56 who explains why seeing
the sun after 3 non-sunny days would rank a blessing on “The deeds of Creation.” Or just
figure it out yourself; it’s logical enough.) As the Beit Efrayim (Orach Chaim 7) noted,
this is probably a debate about reading the word or , the former meaning
“at its circuit” and the latter meaning “in its strength.”

In any case, Rambam (Hilchos Berachos 10:18) and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim
229:2) agree with the Bavli view of Abayye, that this is a berachah recited once every 28
years, when the sun reaches the start of its circuit again.

And so everyone (except some odd Italian communities noted by the Chida (Tuv Ayin
18:58), and except for the Raavad (cited in Minchas Yitzchak 8:15), who said it for his
community in order to avoid berachos in vain if we are doing it improperly) goes out to
recite a berachah upon seeing the Sun next Erev Pesach, and wish it a happy birthday as it
starts its new circuit of the heavenly Houses.

Well, almost.

As the Masat Binyamin (101), Chasam Sofer (Chasam Sofer Orach Chaim 56), Rav
Meshulam Roth (Kol Mevaser 2:51) and many others pointed out many, many years
back: If we know anything at all, it’s that our 28-year calculation is wrong.

1) We have two different traditions for how to measure the sun’s circuit, one credited to
Shemuel and the other to Rav Ada. Shemuel’s, which is based on a 365.25-day solar
year, gives us a 28-year cycle; Rav Ada’s, somewhat more accurate in its estimation of
the solar year, gives us a 19-year cycle. We follow Rav Ada for most halachos - so why
are we following Shemuel for this one?

2) According to many authorities, as well as our liturgy, we follow the Tannaitic view
that the world was created in Tishrei, not Nisan. Therefore, this event should be in
Tishrei!

3) We are quite well aware that although the sages’ calculations are sufficiently accurate
for most halachic purposes, they are not quite precise - and so we shouldn’t be using this
day at all!

Various authorities present fascinating answers for the first two problems, but the third is
pretty intractable. The Chasam Sofer concluded that the numbers are wrong, but leaves it
as and recited the berachah anyway.

Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank (Har Tzvi Orach Chaim 119) had a very interesting approach. He
accepted that these are problems, but argued (based on a very interesting responsum of
the Rashba regarding Shehechiyanu at the birth of a baby) that the whole berachah is
optional. If I understood him correctly, he was saying that we can recite the berachah
when we recognize the beauty of Bereishis, even if that’s not the precise moment in time
described in the gemara.

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5 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

Birkat haChamah/Blessing the Sun 2009, Erev Pesach, Part II*
My last essay covered a basic explanation of this practice (Jews bless the sun?), material
relevant to the origin of this practice (Is this Jewish?!), and the question of how we
calculate the date for this practice (Erev Pesach?!).

At the time I said I would publish Birkat haChamah Part II with a practical guide to
Birkat haChamah. I have taken a while to find the time, but here goes with a basic Birkat
haChamah FAQ on a few key points:

1) Must I do this? It’s Erev Pesach, after all!
Look, if you feel like missing a once-in-28-years opportunity, go ahead. Me, I’d like to
do it now and not wait until I’m 65 next time round.

However, it is indeed possible that this is an “optional” practice, for two reasons:
a) As we noted last time, Rashba (Responsum 1:245) suggests that the blessings we recite
upon seeing various unusual natural events are optional. (But note that Rav Tzvi Pesach
Frank in Har Tzvi suggests this might be limited to Shehechiyanu blessings, and so it
would not apply to Birkat haChamah.)

b) Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank (Har Tzvi Orach Chaim 119) suggests that even if the blessing
is obligatory when you see the sun, you could still choose not to look at the sun at all, but
simply to remain indoors preparing for Pesach.

2) Do we recite Shehechiyanu as part of this ritual?
There is some debate on this point.

Those who say Yes (Bach Orach Chaim 225, Chatam Sofer Orach Chaim 52) argue that
if the moment makes you happy, you can recite Shehechiyanu. Chatam Sofer believes it
is even obligatory.

Others disagree, for several reasons:
a) The son of the Bach says this would be a case of reciting a berachah upon reciting
another berachah.

b) Ktav Sofer Orach Chaim 34 says it would be redundant; the basic berachah already
expresses our joy.

c) Ktav Sofer also suggests we should not recite Shehechiyanu, because we should be sad
that the sun’s light has not yet increased to a supernatural level with the arrival of
Mashiach.

d) Fascinatingly, Maharam Schick (Orach Chaim 90) says one does not recite
Shehechiyanu on a cognitive experience, because our sechel is immortal and therefore a

* Monday, February 2, 2009, http://rechovot.blogspot.com/2009/02/birkat-hachamahblessing-sun-2009-
erev.html

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 6

berachah of “thank you for keeping us alive to reach this point” is irrelevant. Since we
don’t see any difference between the sun on April 7, 8 or 9, our experience is cognitive
rather than physical, and so there is no Shehechiyanu.

The Minchat Yitzchak (8:15) suggests taking a new fruit to solve the Shehechiyanu
problem, and notes that the Raavad had one person recite Shehechiyanu for all, to
minimize the problem. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yechaveh Daat 4:8:4) offers the same
recommendation.

3) Is there anything else to say, besides the berachah of Oseh Maaseh Bereishit and
the possible inclusion of Shehechiyanu?
Chatam Sofer (Orach Chaim 56) lists extra Tehillim. Rav Ovadia (Yechaveh Daat 4:8:3)
lists Tehillim added in Yerushalayim, based on Sanhedrin 101a (“One who recites a
pasuk at its proper time brings good to the world, as it is written (Mishlei 15), “How great
is a word at its time!”). He has Tehillim 19 ( ), the first half of
Tehillim 148 ( ) and Tehillim 136 ).

The Divrei Yatziv (Orach Chaim 96) objects to borrowing Tehillim from Kiddush
Levanah, because those are recited at Kiddush Levanah for moon-specific reasons.

Some say the poem of Kel Adon, because it includes praise of the celestial bodies which
HaShem created, and which carry out HaShem’s will.

Some recite this entire ritual before Aleinu at the end of Shacharit, and that adds the
benefit of saying Aleinu at the end – demonstrating (as we do with Kiddush Levanah)
that we serve God and not the celestial bodies.

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7 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

Birkat haChamah / Blessing the Sun 2009 Erev Pesach, Part III*
Today I hope to wrap our discussion with a few more questions related to when, exactly,
we “bless the sun” with Birkat haChamah this year, and a few other pertinent items.

1) Must this be performed in the morning? (aka “Can’t you wait until after I have
prepared the maror and charoset?!”)

Magen Avraham (229:5) and others say it must be done in the morning, in the first
quarter of the daylight hours. There are two classes of reasons for this:

a) In general, , we enthusiastically pursue mitzvot at our earliest opportunity;

b) There are reasons specific to this mitzvah:
(1) This is based on one calculation of when, exactly, the Sun returns to its - its
original point of creation

(2) Rambam and Shulchan Aruch specify that it should be done in the morning. (One who
sees the Sun on the day of Tekufat Nisan of the start of the 28-year machzor, when the
Tekufah is in the beginning of the fourth evening, when he sees it on the morning of the
fourth day he recites “Blessed is the Creator of Bereishit.”)

(3) Berachot 7a identifies the first quarter of the day as a time when others worship the
Sun, and so our blessing combats that fallacy.

Teshuvah meiAhavah cites the Nodeh BeYehudah permitting the practice even just
before midday, but Rav Ovadia Yosef and others suggest one should not invoke Gd’s
Name in the blessing if it is after the first quarter of the day.

2) So should we do it before Shacharit?

On one hand, we perform the most frequent mitzvot first, so Shacharit should be first.
However, one does not bypass a mitzvah opportunity – and so we should recite the
blessing as soon as we have the opportunity to see the sun.

Maharil indicates one does it when first seeing the sun in the morning. However, Rav
Ovadia Yosef reports a Jerusalem custom of davening early at sunrise, and then
performing this mitzvah at the end of davening, before Aleinu.

In truth, this will not be a real problem for us in Allentown. In Allentown, PA sunrise will
be 6:35 AM that day, so one will not see the sun before 6:30 AM Shacharit.

3) In Allentown, there will be a gathering for Birkat haChamah at 9:30 AM. But

* Monday, February 2, 2009, http://rechovot.blogspot.com/2009/02/birkat-hachamah-blessing-sun-2009-
erev.html

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 8

would it be more appropriate to say Birkat haChamah privately and earlier, rather
than wait for the group?

Rosh HaShanah 32b seems to indicate that performing a mitzvah early trumps performing
it with a larger group. (Why is Hallel in Shacharit? Because the energetic perform
mitzvot as early as possible. Then shofar should also be in Shacharit, because the
energetic perform mitzvot as early as possible? Rabbi Yochanan explained: This was
during a time of decrees against Judaism.)

However, Terumat haDeshen pointed out, from Yevamot 39, that where we are not
concerned about losing a mitzvah opportunity, we do delay in order to perform the
mitzvah better. (We rely on this argument in waiting to perform Kiddush Levanah on
Motzaei Shabbat. However, Yabia Omer 2:Yoreh Deah 18:7 argues that the cases are not
comparable – in Kiddush Levanah your own, personal act is improved by being on
Motzaei Shabbat.)

4) What happens if it’s cloudy?

Panim Meirot 38 rules that one still does it; the talmudic term “One who sees” only
indicates the normal way this occurs, but the Sun is shining whether we see it or not.

Yehudah Yaaleh (1 Orach Chaim 7) disagrees, because the Rambam specified “One who
sees” twice in his statement. Further, in on the other possible explanation of Birkat
haChamah, which we cited last time (that one recites this blessing if he has not seen the
sun in three days), the blessing is clearly dependent upon personal sight.

In practice, the authorities recommend not doing it if the clouds form a thick screen. See
Yehudah Yaaleh 1:Orach Chaim 7, Yechaveh Daas 4:8:7, Yabia Omer 8:Orach Chaim
8:4, Divrei Yatziv Orach Chaim 96.

5) What about someone with impaired vision?

Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yechaveh Daat 4:8:9-11) rules that one may do it with glasses (as
well as from indoors if there is no other choice), like Kiddush Levanah. One who is blind,
though, should answer Amen to another’s blessing.

6) Women and Birkat haChamah

Finally, here on some interesting references on whether/how women perform this
mitzvah: Minchat Yitzchak 8:34, Yechaveh Daat 4:18:6, Divrei Yatziv Orach Chaim
96:3, Yabia Omer 8:Orach Chaim 8:4, Yabia Omer 8:Orach Chaim 36:2, Yabia Omer
8:Orach Chaim 43:10.

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9 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

Hirhurim – Musings
The Misunderstood Blessing On The Sun*
On Erev Pesach next year (April 8, 2009), we will have the opportunity to perform a very
unique mitzvah. Looking back on the last time I was personally able to do this mitzvah, it
is very moving and inspiring. I am speaking of the blessing on the sun, birkas ha-
chamah. This is a blessing that is recited only once every 28 years, for reasons we will
explore shortly. The common understanding of this uncommon blessing is that it marks
the return of the sun to its place at the time of Creation and we take this opportunity to
praise God for creating and sustaining the universe. This is, to me, a very powerful
message and its infrequent occurrence emphasizes it. However, as we go through some of
the details underlying this mitzvah, we will find that things are more complicated and the
message is less obvious.

I. The Source

The Gemara (Berakhos 59b) quotes a baraisa that states:

Our Rabbis taught: He who sees the sun at its turning point... should say:
Blessed is He who performs the act of Creation. And when does this
happen? Abayei said: Every twenty-eight years when the cycle begins
again and the Nissan equinox falls in Saturn on the evening of Tuesday,
going into Wednesday.
This passage requires a little explanation. Often, when someone starts talking about the
Jewish calendar everyone within earshot automatically tunes out. Let me try to simplify
this issue so even those with short attention spans can understand it.

The solar year is approximately 365 1/4 days. Let’s say that the sun was created first
thing on a Wednesday night. Every subsequent year, the sun would return to its same
position on a different day of the week and at a different time because 365 1/4 is not a
number that is divisible by the 7 days of the week. Since we are dealing with quarters of a
day, it would take 4 years for the sun to return to its position at the same time of the day.
But the day would also have to cycle through all 7 days of the week until it returns to
Wednesday. Therefore, in order for the sun to return to its position at the same time and
day of the week as in Creation, it would take 4 x 7 = 28 years until all the times and days
are cycled through and it returns back to Wednesday morning.

That is why, according to Rashi and others, we recite birkas ha-chamah once every 28
years. It is a blessing to mark the occasion of the return of the sun to its original position.
This is what I was taught when I was 8 years old in 1981, and my entire school gathered

*
Tuesday, May 13, 2008, http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2008/05/misunderstood-blessing-on-sun.html

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 10

together outside to recite this blessing in a very memorable ceremony.

However, there are problems with this explanation that complicate this already complex
matter.

II. The Time Of Creation

The implication of the above explanation of the blessing is that Creation occurred in the
month of Nissan. However, this is the subject of a Tannaitic dispute (Rosh Hashanah
10b-11a). According to R. Eliezer, the world was created in Tishrei. According to R.
Yehoshua, the world was created in Nissan. The conclusion (12a) is that we count years
from Tishrei, like R. Eliezer, and we count tekufos (seasons) from Nissan, like R.
Yehoshua. Rashi (12a sv. chakhmei) and Tosafos (12a sv. la-mabul) explain that we hold
like R. Yehoshua, that the world was created in Nissan, but we count years from Tishrei
because there are multiple times of the year that we call Rosh Hashanah for various
purposes (cf. Rosh Hashanah 2a) and Tishrei is the beginning of the year for the counting
of the sabbatical and jubilee.

The Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 27a) points out that the Rosh Hashanah prayer that calls the
day the “beginning of Your acts” implies that the world was created in Tishrei, like R.
Eliezer. Tosafos (sv. ke-man) quote Rabbenu Tam who says that the Gemara eventually
rejects this position and explains that the prayer means that Rosh Hashanah is the
beginning of God’s annual judgment, which culminates on Yom Kippur. After pointing
out that there is a prayer by R. Eliezer Ha-Kalir for Shemini Atzeres that implies that the
world was created in Tishrei and a different prayer by the same author for Pesach that
implies that the world was created in Nissan, Rabbenu Tam suggests that in Tishrei God
thought about creating the world and in Nissan He brought His plan to fruition.

However, the Ramban in his commentary to the Torah (Gen. 8:5) writes:

And know, that [the Sages] agreed that the world was created in Tishrei,
which is why they instituted the prayer “This is the day of the beginning of
Your acts, a remembrance of the first day”.
Similarly, the Ritva (Rosh Hashanah 27a sv. ke-man) disagrees with Rabbenu Tam and
explains that the Gemara concludes like R. Eliezer, that the world was created in Tishrei.

The Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhos Shemitah 10:2), as understood by the Kessef
Mishneh, seems to imply that the world was created in Tishrei (see also the unnamed
commentary by R. Ovadiah ben Yosef to Hilkhos Kiddush Ha-Chodesh 9:3). The Ran
(Commentary to Rosh Hashanah 16a sv. br”h) writes that the world was created on the
25th of Elul and Adam was created on the first day of Tishrei. This, the Ran suggests, is
the basis of the custom in Barcelona (and Ashkenazic communities) to say selichos on the
few days prior to Rosh Hashanah. That is when God was creating the universe. However,
the Ran concludes that the world was really created in Nissan, which he suggests is the
basis of the different custom in Gerona for selichos.

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11 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

R. Yerucham Fishel Perlow (Sefer Ha-Mitzvos Le-Rasag, aseh 56, p. 237d) points out
that the Rif and the Rosh, in their restatements of the Gemara (12a), omit the debate
between R. Eliezer and R. Yehoshua. He believes that this implies that they follow R.
Yehoshua, that the world was created in Nissan.

What we see is that the Tannaitic debate over when Creation took place continued among
medieval commentators. However, doesn’t the blessing over the sun conclusively
indicate that the world was created in Nissan? Perhaps R. Yehoshua disagreed with the
blessing or when it should take place, but how could the Ramban and others ignore the
Gemara that describes this blessing? According to them, when we recite birkas ha-
chamah we are months away from the time of the year during which Creation took place.

III. Calculating The Year

As described above, one way of calculating the length of a year is to assume that it is 365
1/4 days long (365 days, 6 hours). This is a fairly accurate approximation and is one that I
frequently use in spreadsheets. In Talmudic times, it was championed by the Amora
Shmuel and is therefore called Tekufas Shmuel.

R. Adda bar Ahavah advocated a more precise approximation of the length of the year:
365 days 5 hours 55 minutes and 25.44 seconds (365.2468 days). This is called Tekufas
Rav Adda.

Ibn Ezra, in his Sefer Ha-Ibbur (link - PDF), claims that there was no disagreement
between Shmuel and R. Adda. Rather, Shmuel gave a simple calculation of the year that
is useful to the general population while R. Adda gave a more complex calculation that is
only appropriate for scholars. However, the Rambam describes the two approaches to
calculating the length of the year in Mishneh Torah, Hilkhos Kiddush Ha-Chodesh,
chapters 9 and 10. He writes ( 9:1):

The solar year – some Jewish scholars say that it is 365 days and a quarter,
which is six hours, and some say that it is [365 days plus] less than a
quarter of a day. There is a similar debate among Greek and Persian
scholars on this matter.
It seems to me that the way the Rambam describes it, there are two conflicting views and
not just a simplification and a more precise calculation.

[Contemporary scientists set the length of the year -- the vernal equinox year -- at
approximately 365 8/33 days (365.2424), although the length of the year fluctuates due to
a number of largely but not completely offsetting phenomena.

R. Menachem Gerlitz (Birkas Ha-Chamah Ke-Hilkhasah p. 137) quotes the following
suggestion from his father: The solar year at the time of Creation was exactly 365 1/4

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 12

days long but has been steadily decreasing at (if I recall correctly) the rate of 4.4
millionths of a second per year. However, based on my limited understanding of the
astronomy involved this seems to be incorrect.]

If we accept Tekufas Shmuel as our guide to practice, then we can easily establish a 28-
year calendar cycle. It is not hard to see the place for birkas ha-chamah in such a
paradigm. If we use Tekufas Rav Adda, then the calendar has to be more complex to
account for the fractions but a 19-year calendar cycle can be constructed.

For the past over millennium and a half, Jews have been using a 19-year calendar based
on Tekufas Rav Adda. That is why your Hebrew and secular birthdays coincide every 19
years (assuming a secular leap year does not interfere). However, we still calculate the
time for birkas ha-chamah based on the 28-year cycles of Tekufas Shmuel. This
disconnect means that next Erev Pesach we will recite the blessing on a day that is two
weeks after the proper day according to our calendar. R. Yehuda (Leo) Levi (Facing
Current Challenges, ch. 46 n. 6) points out that after taking into account other
astronomical phenomena, we are reciting the blessing 18 days too late. In fact, in the year
1841, the blessing on the sun was recited on the second day of Pesach even though
halakhically Pesach must fall in the spring season, after the new cycle begins (R. Shlomo
Kluger [Chokhmas Shlomo to Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 229] reports that in his
town, Brody, it was cloudy on that day in 1841 and they were only able to see the sun at
11am). This happened because according to the calculations of R. Adda spring had begun
but according to the calculations of Shmuel spring only began on the second day of
Pesach, when the blessing was recited.

IV. Resolutions

What all this tells us is that the connection between the blessing and the sun being in the
same place it was at the time of Creation is tenuous. Actually, there are other
explanations of this blessing.

The Arukh (sv. chamah) evidently has a different version of the Talmud from the text
quoted above and has no mention of the blessing being recited every 28 years. Instead,
the Arukh suggests that the blessing is meant to be recited after any period of at least
three days during which the sun is not visible due to cloudiness. By reciting the blessing
we are thanking God for the benefits of the sun that we have missed while it was hidden.
This is also the position of Rabbenu Chananel (Otzar Ha-Ge’onim, Berakhos p. 65, cited
in Yechaveh Da’as 4:18:1).

R. Yosef Kafach, in his edition of Mishneh Torah (Hilkhos Berakhos ch. 10 n. 35),
suggests that according to R. Saadia Gaon, the blessing is supposed to be recited every
year just like a blessing is recited over the new moon every month (cf. Rabbenu Bachya’s
commentary to Gen. 1:14; Encyclopedia Talmudis sv. birkas ha-chamah, vol. 4 col. 454
n. 14a). Both blessings are about the continuation of the natural cycles and the complex
beauty of the universe.

However, neither of these approaches have been accepted as the normative practice,
which leaves us with the two problems described above.

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13 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

On the one hand, these problems are sufficiently significant that R. Akiva Eiger (Glosses
to Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 229:2) makes it seem that this is the reason for the
Maharal’s practice to recite the blessing without God’s name. On the flip side, R. Tzvi
Pesach Frank (Responsa Har Tzvi, Orach Chaim 1:119) writes that since there is a doubt
whether we follow Shmuel or R. Adda, and since this blessing is one of praise and we
recite blessings of praise even in cases of doubt, that is why we recite this blessing.
However, I am not sure where he found a doubt in this matter. It seems that we
unquestionably follow R. Adda.

The Chasam Sofer (Responsa, Orach Chaim 56) acknowledged this difficulty and leaves
it unresolved. He quotes the Sheyarei Knesses Ha-Gedolah (229:2) who says that in
previous generations this blessing was never recited. However, the Chasam Sofer writes
that since the custom in his region is to recite the blessing every 28 years, then we must
follow this custom and continue the practice.

Later authorities have generally adopted this approach of the Chasam Sofer, with the
Minchas Yitzchak (8:34) going so far as to say that the blessing is not dependent on
reality:

We are forced to say that this blessing is not [a direct result] of the real
phenomenon but because this is the way the Sages established it.

This blessing, like almost all, is a rabbinic enactment. If the Sages established that it
should be recited every 28 years, then that is the nature of the mitzvah and what we have
to do. Why don’t we simply change the timing of the blessing and recite it every 19
years? The most basic reason is that it is not in our power to change an enactment.

Secondly, R. Yechiel Mikhel Tukaczinsky (Tekufas Ha-Chamah U-Virkasah, 1981
edition, p. 25) writes that the 19 year cycle is a mathematical convention and doesn’t
represent the completion of any real cycle. No heavenly body completes its orbit in 19
years. It is merely an effective cycle for avoiding rounding errors in R. Adda’s calendar
system. That is why reciting a blessing at that time is inappropriate.

The Birkei Yosef (Orach Chaim 229:1) writes that while according to the Rambam the
world was created in Tishrei, we still recite the blessing in Nissan because it is the first
day of the cycle of counting the seasons. In other words, there is evocative meaning in
reciting the blessing in Nissan even though the sun is not in the same place as it was at
Creation.

What we have seen is that according to certain assumptions, the time once every 28 years
that we recite the blessing over the sun is meaningful. Even though those assumptions are
not universal and do not apply to our situations, they inform the meaning we are intended
to find in this ceremony. Yes, this is a somewhat artificial occasion. There is much less
wonder than if we would actually be witnessing the sun returning to its position at
Creation. Nevertheless, the blessing itself is supposed to “encourage us to look beyond

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 14

the mechanical laws of nature, and to be inspired by the wonder inherent in them” (R.
Yehudah Levi, p. 322).

[There are those who criticize the approach of R. Natan Slifkin to Creation because it
renders the birkas ha-chamah meaningless. I think the preceding establishes that this is
not the case. According to all contemporary authorities, we do not recite the blessing
when/because the sun returns to the position it was in at the time of Creation.]

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15 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

Birkas Ha-Chamah Books*
With the once-every-twenty-eight-years opportunity in a few weeks of reciting birkas ha-
chamah, I’d like to take the opportunity to review and compare two recent books about
the subject. Bircas HaChammah (henceforth Bircas) by R. J. David Bleich was originally
published 28 years ago and has now been revised and republished (I haven’t compared
the second edition with the first for changes). Once in 28 Years: The Blessing of the Sun:
Birkas Hachamah (henceforth Once) is a new book by R. Moshe Goldberger
(interestingly, his name appears nowhere on the book except as the copyright holder).

Both books give an overview of the relevant laws and the text for the ceremony of birkas
ha-chamah. However, they differ in so many respects that even on those two issue they
are different. In general, I would describe Bircas as a reference text for this mitzvah and
Once as an inspirational book based on the mitzvah.

Bircas was written by one of the leading Torah scholars in the world, who also has
advanced secular education and, in addition to being a rosh kollel, teaches in law school.
His books deals with every minute aspect of the mitzvah, including the complex
calendrical issues and the evolving/expanding liturgy associated with it.

Once is cute. It is a small book that has 28 chapters. The first two chapters deal with the
textual sources for the mitzvah and its laws. The other 26 address ways to learn life
lessons from the mitzvah and its liturgy. The book comes with a laminated card that has
the birkas ha-chamah service on it. It is worth comparing this with the service in Bircas
to see the difference.

The service provided by Once is minimal – Psalm 148, the blessing, Kel Adon, Psalm 19
and Alenu (followed by Kaddish). Bircas has a six-page bibliographic note on the
development of the service and then the very long service in three different fonts – big for
the minimal service, medium for additional readings, and small for the esoteric prayers.
While it is important for a reference work to have all of the possible prayers, it makes it
difficult to use. I suspect that most people will simply see the passages and just read all of
them, much like people do with the lengthy tashlikh service in the Artscroll machzor.
However, as a reference, Bircas is an incredible goldmine of useful information (e.g. who
wrote Alenu? see page 176).

The section of laws in Once is 7 small pages. It has the basics of what you need to know,
with only one opinion for every ruling rather the “some say this and some say that”. No
footnotes. Bircas has 34 pages of laws, with footnotes and super-footnotes (footnotes to
the footnotes). It has just about every opinion on every subject, with long lists of obscure
sources.

Bircas has astronomical charts with 13 columns of relevant times for many cities across
the world. It also has lists of dates of birkas ha-chamah throughout history. Once has no
charts.

* Wednesday, March 04, 2009, http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2009/03/birkas-ha-chamah-books.html

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 16

But Once has very pointed, inspirational lessons that can be learned from aspects of the
mitzvah. What have you done in the past 28 years (assuming you are old enough to
remember that far back)? How have you grown? What have you learned from the sun’s
regularity? Etc. etc. These are good questions to ask and the author masterfully extracts
them from the mitzvah of birkas ha-chamah. Bircas might have these questions also but
if it does, I got lost in the details and passed over them.

So, to sum up, I see Bircas as an essential reference work and Once as an important tool
for getting the most out of this rare occasion.

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17 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

Yehuda Goldreich
HaChama Betkufata: An Overview of Birkat HaChama

The Blessing of the Sun and the 28-year Solar Cycle

1
By: Yehudah Goldreich

Introduction
On Wednesday morning, the 14th of Nisan, 5769, April 8th, Erev Pesach, we will all, with
G-d’s help, participate in a very special event that most people only merit to do up to
three times in their lives. Once every 28 years we make the bracha, blessing “Oseh
Maaseh Bereshith” when the sun returns to the exact spot, on the exact day of the week,
that it was placed upon the creation of the world.
In this article, I will present the sources of the bracha – Birkat HaChama, an explanation
of the astronomical, mathematical and halachic calculations of the sun’s 28-year
periodicity, as well as a summary of some of the many halachic issues regarding the
reciting of the bracha.
Does anything actually happen once every 28 years? How do we calculate when the 28-
year period starts? And how does it all fit into our calendar?

Birkat HaChama Overview
The source for Birkat HaChama is the Gemara in Brachot2 which states:
Our rabbis taught: He who sees the sun at its
season, the moon at its strength, the stars in their
paths, and the constellations in their order recites
“Blessed is the maker of creation”.
And when does this happen? Abaya says: Every
28 years when the cycle returns and the season of
Nissan falls in Saturn, on the evening of Tuesday
going into Wednesday.

This Gemara is brought as accepted Halacha by all the halachic authorities 3.

*
An abridged version of this article was posted to Hirhurim on Wednesday, March 11, 2009,
http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2009/03/hachama-betkufata-overview-of-birkat.html
1
Yehudah Goldreich, a resident of Ramat Bet Shemesh, gives classes and presentations in schools on a
wide variety of topics regarding the Jewish calendar.
2
Mesechet Brachot, top of page 59B

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 18

“The sun at its season” is explained by Rashi as when the sun returns to the beginning of
its orbit4 where it was at the time when the heavenly bodies were placed during creation.
The commentators understand the Gemara’s question, “and when does this happen?”, as
well as Abaya’s answer detailing the 28-year solar cycle, as referring to the first event –
the sun at its season5.
Once every 28 years, the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring, Rosh T’leh 6) falls exactly
on the first hour of Wednesday (at the evening of the start of Wednesday) 78.

How is this calculated?
The solar year, consisting of four equally long seasons (Tekufot) – Nissan, Tamuz,
Tishrei and Tevet (spring, summer, autumn and winter, respectively), is defined as being
exactly 365¼ days long (which is 52 full weeks, one day and 6 hours).
Since the revolutions of the sun started at creation on the first hour of the fourth day910,
after one full year the sun will return to its original location on Thursday midnight (one
day and 6 hours after sunset on Wednesday). The next year it will return to its starting
point on daybreak (6 am) Friday morning, and again the following year on Shabbat noon,
etc. Only after 28 years will the sun once again return to its starting point at Wednesday
nightfall (see Table 1 below).

3
See Rambam, Hilchot Brachot, 10:18; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 229:2; et al.
4
Almost all traditional sources refer to the astronomical model described by Aristotle and the astronomer
Ptolemy Claudius where all the heavenly bodies (sun, planets and stars) revolve around the earth (see
Rambam, Hilchot Yesodei Hatorah, Perek 3; Rambam, Hilchot Kidush Hachodesh, Perek 11; et al) which
was the accepted model of their times, rather than the present-day accepted model defined by Copernicus
where the earth and planets revolve around the sun. In any case, all the measurements calculated by the
traditional sources are accurate in reference to any of the astronomical models.
5
Note that the Talmud Yerushalmi (Perek 9, Halacha 2, Page 65B) has a different version (brought in the
Aruch (“Chama”) and as quoted by Rabenu Chananel) which refers to when the sun is once again seen after
not being visible for three consecutive rainy days. Although there are some poskim that suggest that it
should be considered an argument regarding the requirement of the bracha, in which case a bracha is not
recited, (there is even a comment brought by the Chatam Sofer (56) that in previous generations it was not
accustomed to recite the bracha) but most of the accepted halachic authorities (as the Chatam Sofer
himself) do require Birkat HaChama as per the Talmud Bavli.
6
Tekufat Nissan, the Vernal Equinox, the first day of spring, is also known in traditional sources as “Rosh
T’leh” the head of the ram or the beginning of Aries.
7
Keep in mind that for all calculations in the Jewish calendar, the night precedes the day (i.e. Wednesday is
defined as the 24-hour period starting from after sunset on Tuesday until sunset Wednesday.)
8
Also note that all calculations in the Jewish calendar are based upon a “perfect” day consisting of 12 night
hours from sunset until morning and 12 day hours from sunrise until night, throughout the entire year and
for all seasons.
9
Bereshith 1:14-19
10
The exact spot, in relation to Eretz Israel, where the sun was placed has halachic ramifications regarding
the placing of the International Date Line (see Rav. Tukechinsky’s classic sefer, HaYomam Bekadur
Haaretz, and the Chazon Ish, Kuntress Yud-Chet Shaot.)

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19 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

This, although greatly simplified, is the calculation of the 28-year solar cycle where we
commemorate the creation of the sun by blessing G-d – “Oseh Maaseh Bereshith” – “He
who effects the work of creation”.
But now, let us delve into these calculations a bit deeper and in particular answer the
following questions:
Is the solar year actually 365¼ days exactly?
What defines a season?
How does this calculation correspond with our regular, monthly Jewish calendar?
Why does Birkat HaChama fall each time on a different date in the Jewish
calendar, and on the same date (April 8th) according to the secular calendar?
Wasn’t the world created in Tishrei when we celebrate Rosh Hashana?
Isn’t the Vernal Equinox (beginning of spring) on March 21 st?
What is meant by the Gemara that “the season falls on Shabtai (Saturn)”?

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 20

Table 1 – The 28-year solar cycle – the start of Tekufat Nissan

Year Day Hour11
1 Wednesday 0
2 Thursday 6
3 Friday 12
4 Shabbat 18
5 Monday 0
6 Tuesday 6
7 Wednesday 12
8 Thursday 18
9 Shabbat 0
10 Sunday 6
11 Monday 12
12 Tuesday 18
13 Thursday 0
14 Friday 6
15 Shabbat 12
16 Sunday 18
17 Tuesday 0
18 Wednesday 6
19 Thursday 12
20 Friday 18
21 Sunday 0
22 Monday 6
23 Tuesday 12
24 Wednesday 18
25 Friday 0
26 Shabbat 6
27 Sunday 12
28 Monday 18
1 Wednesday 0

11
In this table, as in many of the calculations in the traditional sources (e.g. calculating the Molad for Rosh
Chodesh), the hours of the day start at nightfall referred to as “Hour 0” or sometimes as 6 pm, midnight is
referred to as “Hour 6” or as 12 am, sunrise as “Hour 12” or as 6 am, and noontime as “Hour 18” or as 12
pm.

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21 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

The Tekufot – The Seasons
As is seen in Table 1 above, the beginning of Tekufat Nissan is always at nightfall,
daybreak, midnight or noon (hours 0, 6, 12 or 18).
The Gemara in Eiruvin 12 quotes Shmuel who describes the calculations of the four
seasons.

Shmuel said: The Nissan (spring) season only
occurs on one of the quarters of the day – either
the beginning of the day or the beginning of the
night or at midday or at midnight; the Tamuz
(summer) season only occurs etc.
And the time between each of the seasons is
exactly 91 days and 7½ hours.

Shmuel defines the year as exactly 365¼ days long, divided equally into four seasons.
This calculation is known as “Tekufat Shmuel” and is the basis of all halachic
calculations that are dependent on the seasons. Birkat HaChama and saying “Vten Tal
Umatar” outside Israel1314 are the two halachot that are defined by the seasons. They are
both calculated according to Tekufat Shmuel15.
This 365¼ day calculation is also the basis of the Julian calendar, used throughout most
of the world from the days of the Roman Empire 16 until some changes were made
(including skipping 10 days and redefining when leap years, February 29 th, would occur)
forming the Gregorian calendar in the year 1582, used in the secular world today17.

12
Eiruvin 56A
13
In Israel, “Vten Tal Umatar” (a prayer for rain) is added in the Shmone Esrei starting from the 7th of
Marcheshvan. Outside Israel the prayer is added starting from 60 days after the beginning of Tekufat
Tishrei (the autumn season) as defined by Shmuel (see Gemara Taanit 10A; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim
117:1).
14
Although the Gemara Taanit 10A is referring to praying for rain in Babylon, the accepted custom is to
start the prayers at this date in all lands outside Israel. See the Rosh (on Taanit 10A, siman 4) who
questions this, that it should be dependant on the rain requirement for each particular place and climate.
15
In addition, there is another custom that is dependant on the tekufot (see Rama in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh
Deah, 116:5 and Bet Yosef, Orach Chaim, end of 455, in the name of the Mordechai) not to drink water
(unless iron was placed on it) during the hour of the beginning of each of the four tekufot. See Shu”t
Zemach Zedek (question 14) who discusses how the exact time of the tekufa is calculated and how it is
reconciled to the day-length differences in winter and summer (unlike Birkat HaChama and Vten Tal
Umatar which only the day of the tekufa, and not the hour, needs to be reckoned).
16
The Julian calendar was set in the year 46 BCE.
17
The Gregorian calendar was accepted only gradually throughout the years in the various European
countries. Russia only converted to the Gregorian calendar in 1918 (by then they had to jump 13 days) and
the Greek Orthodox church still uses the Julian calendar to calculate their holidays today.

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 22

Therefore, out of convenience, the date for Birkat HaChama and saying “Vten Tal
Umatar” outside Israel is usually defined by the secular date18.
Tekufat Nissan, according to Shmuel, will always fall on the Julian date March 26 th.
When the Gregorian calendar was set, this date corresponded to April 5 th. In the year
1700 (because a leap year is skipped) it changed to April 6th, and again to April 7 th in
1800, and presently (since 1900) Birkat HaChama is recited on April 8 th.19 20

Tekufat Rav Ada
The Rambam in Hilchot Kidush Hachodesh21 says that the calculation of the solar year is
actually in dispute between the sages, as well as amongst the Greek and Persian
astronomers.
They argue if the solar year is exactly 365 days and 6 hours (as Shmuel) or (as known as
Tekufat Rav Ada) the solar year is measured as 365 days 5 hours 997 chalakim and 48
regaim22 (365 days 5 hours 55 minutes and 25 seconds23).
The Rambam finishes his discussion of the two calculations stating that the second view
(Rav Ada) is more exact 24 and closer to the calculations of the astronomers of his time,
and that these calculations were used by the Great Bet Din to calculate the calendar.

The Standard Jewish calendar
The standard Jewish calendar used today25 is based on the lunar month with an average
time between new moons (Molad) of 29 days, 12 hours and 793 chalakim. In order to
coordinate the lunar “year” with the solar year (so that Pesach will always be in the
spring and Sukkot on the fall) 12 regular 12-month years together with 7 leap years
consisting of 13 months are integrated into a 19-year cycle.

18
This is usually defined by the night (preceding) of the secular date December 5 th or 6th (depending upon
whether the following year will be a leap year with February having 29 days.)
19
The year 2000 was a leap year even in the Gregorian calendar, so the date stayed constant, but in the year
2100, the date of Birkat HaChama will once again change and will be on April 9 th.
20
Similarly, regarding saying “Vten Tal Umatar” the Avudraham (quoted by the Bet Yosef on the Tur,
Orach Chaim 117) defines the 60 days after the tekufah as November 22 or 23, depending on the leap years
(referring to the Julian calendar used in his time and place). Newer (18th century) printings of the Tur edited
the dates to December 3 and 4 respectively (changing to the Gregorian calendar that was then accepted).
The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (siman 19) printed pre-1900 stated the starting dates for Vten Tal Umatar as
December 4th and 5th, while today (until the year 2100) we start saying Vten Tal Umatar outside Israel the
night preceding December 5th or 6th. (See Taamei Haminhagim, Inyanei Shmini Atzeret, #827, page 359-
360 in the notes.)
21
Rambam, Hilchot Kidush Hachodesh, Perek 9 and 10
22
A “chelek” is defined as 1/1080 of an hour (or 3⅓ seconds), and a “rega” as 1/76 of a chelek (0.04386
sec.)
23
Compare this to the Gregorian year of 365 days 5 hours 49 minutes and 12 seconds.
24
The Rambam does note that even Rav Ada’s calculations are only approximations and not astronomically
exact, and that the actual season is a few days prior to the calculated tekufot.
25
Set by Hillel II the Prince in the year 4119 (359 CE).

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23 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

This 19-year cycle of 235 months (12 x 12 + 7 x 13) is coordinated exactly with 19 solar
years as defined by Rav Ada.

Standard calendar 19-year cycle:
235 months x 29 days 12 hours 793 chalakim
= 6939 days 16 hours 595 chalakim

Rav Ada’s 19-year solar cycle:
19 x 365 days 5 hours 997 chalakim 48 regaim
= 6939 days 16 hours 595 chalakim

In addition, the rule that Pesach (the 16th of Nissan) must be within the spring season26
(and if it “comes out” before that time, an extra month, Adar II, is added to the calendar)
is only correct according to the calculations of Rav Ada. According to Shmuel’s
calculations Tekufat Nissan comes out, in some years, even after Pesach! 27
Since our “standard” calendar is based on Rav Ada’s calculations, why is Birkat
HaChama (and saying “Vten Tal Umatar”) calculated according to Shmuel? 2829
Rav Avraham Ibn Ezra30 explains this seemingly contradiction that Tekufat Shmuel is
based on simpler (i.e. “rounded off”) numbers in order that the calculations required for
halachot that are applicable to each and every individual (Birkat HaChama and Vten Tal
Umatar) be easier to calculate. But the calendar, which is only calculated by the Great
Bet Din, is calculated with the more exact numbers of Rav Ada 31.
The Chazon Ish32 similarly explains that Shmuel’s easier, average calculations are used
so that even those people that are not able to figure the mathematical calculations can

26
Rosh Hashana 21A; Sanhedrin 11B
27
Birkat HaChama in the year 1953 was performed on the 23rd of Nissan. It has even occurred as late as the
26th of Nissan in 1785.
28
See Shu”t Ma’asat Binyamin 101 who asks this, and also notes that our calendar is according to the view
that the world was created in Tishrei and Shmuel’s calculations are according to the world being created in
Nissan? This will be addressed later.
29
See also Shu”t Chatam Sofer, Orach Chaim, siman 56 (also brought in Sefer Poalei Hashem, volume 3
and in the newly-published Meorot Hasofer, Inyanei Kidush HaChama Vehatekufa of the Chatam Sofer)
which leaves this question unanswered as “Tzarich iyun gadol” – need a lot of thought.
30
Sefer Haibur, page 8
31
Actually, the Ma’asat Binyamin asks why we do not also make a bracha Birkat HaChama on the 19-year
cycle as per Rav Ada? He answers that only according to Shmuel is the sun in the same position as when it
was created on the same day of the week, Wednesday, while according to Rav Ada the cycle of the sun and
the moon are in synchronization once every 19 years, but this never occurs on the beginning of a
Wednesday as it was during creation.
32
Chazon Ish, Orach Chaim, 138:4

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 24

perform the mitzvot required of them. He adds that this was as defined by Moshe at Sinai
to use these calculations33.
Rav Moshe Feinstein34 strongly reprimands someone who called Shmuel’s calculations
“wrong”. Rav Moshe emphatically states that any custom followed by all the people,
including our great Rabbis, over the generations can never be called “wrong”, rather there
are two variant, but both acceptable, ways to calculate the seasons, and the easier
(although not so accurate) method of Shmuel is the method used in certain cases.

The Rule of Shabtai - Saturn
In the Gemara in Brachot35 , Abaya defines Hachama Betkufata, the sun at its season:

And when does this happen? Abaya says: Every
28 years when the cycle returns and the season
of Nissan falls in Shabtai (Saturn), on the
evening of Tuesday going into Wednesday.

What is this referring to? When is “Shabtai”, Saturn’s time? And what does this have to
do with the sun?
Rashi36 explains that the hours of each of the days of the week are designated (or “ruled”)
by one of the 7 heavenly bodies (planets) in the sky.
They are known as (in the order of their distance from the earth):


Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury and the Moon

Each planet “rules” for one hour at a time finishing an even round of each of the planets
by the end of a week, as shown in Table 2 below 37.
We see that the first hour of Sunday (i.e. Motzaei Shabbat at sunset) is “ruled” by Kochav
(Mercury), the 2nd hour by Levana (the moon), the 3rd by Shabtai (Saturn), etc.
The first hour (at nightfall) of the days of the week are defined as , and the
first daytime hour of the days of the week as , as Rashi explains in detail.

33
See Rav Chaim Kanyevsky, Sefer Shekel Hakodesh on Hilchot Kiddush Hachodesh of the Rambam,
chapter 9, #20.
34
Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim, Chelek 4, Siman 17
35
Mesechet Brachot, top of page 59B
36
See Brachot 59B, Rashi starting Shabtai; and Eiruvin 56A, Rashi starting Ve’ein
37
Rash in Eiruvin quotes Sefer Chakamoni that explains the reasoning for organizing the planets in such a
way.

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25 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

In our Gemara regarding Birkat HaChama, Abaya gives the time when the sun returns to
its origin point as when Tekufat Nissan (the Vernal Equinox) is on Shabtai – the first
hour of Wednesday.
It must be noted that the “rule” of the planets do not have any astronomical significance.
The particular planet is not in any particular place at that time. The planet “ruling”
connotation is used here only as a way to name the particular hour of the day38.
Table 2 – The weekly cycle of the hourly “rule” of the planets

Shabbat Friday Thursday Wednesday Tuesday Monday Sunday
hour
night
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
day 1
2
3

38
See Gemara Shabbat 156A which does provides significances (astrological) to the ruling planet of the
hour, that the “Mazal” (“luck” or personality) of a person depends on the hour of the day that he was born
(or day of the week, defined by the first hour of the day or night). The conclusion of the Gemara, though, is
that “Ein mazal leyisrael” – Israel is not ruled by mazal. In addition see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah,
179:1 – not to go to astrologers.
In addition, this is the background for the custom brought by the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 271:1) to
make Kiddush on Friday before nightfall (which is ruled by Zedek-Jupiter) and not during the first hour
after nightfall (which is ruled by Maadim-Mars). See the Machazit Hashekel there, who elaborates on the
issue of reckoning the hour during the winter/summer time where the days are not even (i.e. not the first
hour after nightfall, rather 6 -7 pm) as is discussed by the Shu”t Zemach Zedek (see footnote 15 above).
The Aruch Hashulchan (271:11) questions this custom as it if forbidden to say that we are under the
influence of the mazalot.

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 26

4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12

When did the cycle start? or, wasn’t the world created on Rosh Hashana?
Birkat HaChama is based on the premise that the sun returns to the exact spot on the day
that it was created – at the beginning of the season of Nissan in the spring.
But when was the world created? Don’t we say on Rosh Hashana: “Zeh hayom techilat
maasecha” – “This is the day that Your creation commenced” 39?
The Gemara in Rosh Hashana 40 brings and argument regarding the matter. Rebbi Eliezer
says that the world was created in Tishrei, and Rebbi Yehoshua says that the world was
created in Nissan41. Each one brings psukim to prove his point and explains the events in
the Chumash (e.g. the dates of the flood42) according to his own view.
The Gemara43 comes to a final decision regarding the time of creation.

Our rabbis taught: The Jewish scholars count
the flood as Rebbi Eliezer and the seasons as
Rebbi Yehoshuah.

39
See Rosh Hashana 27A
40
Rosh Hashana 10B
41
Actually they are referring to the season of Tishrei/Nissan (and not the months) where Rebbi Eliezer
calculates the world being created on the 25th of Ellul, the sun and heavenly bodies (and the beginning of
the Tekufat Tishrei) on the 4th day – the 28th of Ellul, and Adam was created on Friday which was Rosh
Hashana the 1st of Tishrei. Similarly, Rebbi Yehoshua calculates the world being created on the 25th of
Adar, the sun (and the beginning of tekufat Nissan) on the 28th of Adar, and Adam being created on Friday
the 1st of Nissan.
42
Bereishith chapter 7
43
Rosh Hashana 12B

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27 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

Rashi and Tosefot44 both explain that the world was actually created in Nissan and
therefore the calculations of the seasons are from Nissan, but even so, we calculate the
events of Noah’s flood, as well as our calendar calculations from Tishrei45.
Our traditional celebration of Rosh Hashana as the day that Adam was created, as well as
all our (Rav Ada’s) calendar calculations, is figured following the premise that the world
was created in Tishrei. But the date of Birkat HaChama, as well as any calculation of the
seasons, follows the view of Rebbi Yehoshua that the world was created in Nissan46.

How are the years counted? and why are we doing Birkat HaChama this year?
This year, 5769, is not divisible by 28 (there is a remainder 1), so shouldn’t we have done
Birkat HaChama last year in 5768 (206 x 28 = 5768)?
It is true that the years from creation are incremented on Rosh Hashana. But both Rebbi
Yehoshua (the world was created in Nissan) and Rebbi Eliezer (the world was created on
the 25th of Ellul) take into account the partial year before creation (a half year per Rebbi
Yehoshua or 5 days per Rebbi Eliezer) that is also counted. This “year”, known as “Shnat
Tohu” - the “Year of Void”, is counted as Year 147. Note that there is no Year 0.
Therefore, this year, “5769 years since creation” is actually the “5769 th year since the
counting started on the 1st of Tishrei before creation”. The sun started its cycle on the
beginning of Tekufat Nissan (per Rebbi Yehoshua) in the middle of Year 1. The first
Birkat HaChama, 28 years later, was in Nissan of Year 29. Therefore, we recite Birkat
HaChama this year, after 206 cycles, in 5769.

What about the other brachot?
Together with the source for Birkat HaChama, the Gemara states:

Our rabbis taught: He who sees the sun at its
season, the moon at its strength, the stars in
their paths, and the constellations in their
order recites “Blessed is the maker of creation”.

44
Rashi starting Chachmei and starting Uletekufa, Tosefot 12B starting Lamabul.
45
Rabenu Tam (in Tosefot Rosh Hashana 27A starting Keman) also says that we hold like Rebbi
Yehoshua, but ends with saying “Eilu veelu divrei elokim chaim” that both the opinions can be reconciled
by saying that G-d thought of creating the world in Tishrei but actually created it in Nissan.
46
There are other commentaries (Ritba, Rosh Hashana 27A; Ran, Rosh Hashana 16A) that disagree and
understand that the world was created in Tishrei (also see the Ramban to Bereshith 8:5).
47
Adam was created on Rosh Hashana (per Rebbi Eliezer) of the Year 2!

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 28

When is the moon at its strength, the stars in their paths, and the constellations in their
order48? And why don’t we make a bracha at those occurrences?
The Rambam49 describes these astronomical events:

When the moon returns to the beginning of the
constellation Aries at the beginning of the month
and is not inclined to the north or south, and also
when each of the remaining five planets 50 return
to the beginning of the constellation Aries and
are not inclined neither to the north or south, and
also any time that the constellation Aries is seen
rising from the east51, on each one of these events
bless “Oseh Bereshith”

The students of Rabenu Yona 52, quoting Rabenu Yehonatan Hacohen, describes “the
constellations in their times” as an event known to the astronomers when they return to
the exact spot that they were placed during creation.
We are not accustomed to make any of these calculations or to make a bracha on these
events.
The Beit Ephraim53 similarly explains that the sun’s cycle is known by all but the other
events can only be determine by experts in the field and therefore a bracha is not recited.
The Aruch Hashulchan54 also explains that we don’t make a bracha on these events since
we do not know what they are and also because there are other explanations (other than
that of the Rambam) as to what the Gemara means.
In addition, it seems, that even the Gemara Brachot that asks “And when does this
happen?” and Abaya, who answers “Every 28 years etc.” is only referring to the Sun’s
cycle and doesn’t consider the other events or try to describe when they occur.

Halachic issues regarding the reciting of the bracha
The halachic discussions of Birkat HaChama are found in the Shulchan Aruch, siman
229:2. Many of the commentaries there delve into the various issues of the bracha. In

48
Note that the Rif, Rosh (on Mesechet Brachot) and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 229:2) have slightly
different versions, they quote: , “The moon at its pureness, the
stars in their watch and the constellations in their times”, but the idea is similar.
49
Rambam, Hilchot Brachot, 10:18
50
Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury
51
While the first two events (the moon and planets meeting Aries) occur very infrequently and must be
calculated astronomically as to when they will happen, Aries rising from the east occurs yearly exactly on
the Vernal (Spring) Equinox. Is a yearly bracha required on the first day of tekufat Nissan? Or is the
Rambam referring to different and infrequent astronomical event?
52
Talmedei Rabenu Yona, Mesechet Brachot, page 43B (86) of the Rif
53
Shu”t Beit Ephraim, Orach Chaim, siman 7
54
Aruch Hashulchan, Orach Chaim, 229:4

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29 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

addition, many contemporary books have written on the topic of Birkat HaChama dealing
specifically with the halachic issues 55.
I will only list here a few of the main halachic discussions regarding the reciting of the
bracha, without, in any way, implying that I have done justice or completely covered the
halachic discussions, and definitely not provide an authoritative psak on any of the issues.

The time for saying the bracha
“Zrizim Makdimim Lamitzvah.” The earliest time for saying the bracha is at daybreak –
Neitz Hachama. But unlike the normal calculation for “Neitz”, when the first sight of the
sun peaks above the horizon, for Birkat HaChama the entire circle of the sun must be
visible above the horizon (which is 2½-3 minutes after the traditional “Neitz”) 56. In
addition, since the sun must actually be seen, any mountains or buildings on the horizon
which may block the sun at daybreak must also be taken into account (and see below
regarding davening Shachrit first).
Lechatchilah, preferably, the bracha should be said within the first three hours of the
day57. If it wasn’t (e.g. clouds blocked the sun’s visibility – also discussed below, or you
missed the time) there is lengthy discussions (and disagreements) if the bracha is said
after that time with G-d’s name or not. Most allow saying the full bracha until noon58, but
after that time (if not said yet) only “Baruch oseh maaseh bereshith”, without G-d’s
name, should be said.

What about Shachrit?
Because of the rule “Tadir vesheaino tadir – tadir kodem59“, most authorities require that
the morning prayers, Shachrit, in its entirety, be said prior to Birkat HaChama 60. The
custom is to daven Shachrit at Neitz (Vatikin) and Birkat HaChama immediately
following.

Berov Am
Notwithstanding what was mentioned above, most authorities require waiting for the
community recitation of the bracha altogether rather than saying it individually earlier (as
long as within the first three hour of the day).

55
Many of the sefarim relating to Birkat HaChama have been updated and newly reprinted this year.
In particular, see the classic Sefer Tekufat Hachama Ubirkatah (first published 5684/1924), by Rabbi
Yechiel Michel Tukechinsky, Sefer Yizrach Ohr (first published 5685/1925), and Seder Birkat Hachama,
(5781/1981) by Rabbi Zvi Cohen, et al.
56
On Erev Pesach 5769, sunrise, in Jerusalem, is at 6:17am (summer clock).
57
On Erev Pesach 5769, three hours into the day, in Jerusalem, is at 9:29am (summer clock).
58
On Erev Pesach 5769, noon, in Jerusalem, is at 12:40am (summer clock).
59
A rule defining that any common practice is to be done prior to a less common one.
60
The commentaries deal at great length with this question deliberating if these two mitzvoth are
considered to be coming at the same time?, what if you originally planed to do one only later?, what if you
usually pray at a later time?, and what if you will miss the community reciting of Birkat HaChama (i.e.
“Berov Am”) if you go to pray first?, etc.

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 30

The wording of the bracha
Almost all commentaries note that the bracha should be said “Beshem Umalchut” 6162 and
most edit the wording to be “Oseh Maaseh Bereshith”63 and so is the custom. They
explain that when the Gemara says to bless “Oseh Bereshith” it is only a shortened
version telling which bracha is said, but actually implies to say the entire, full text of the
bracha.

No Shehechiyanu
The Shehechiyanu bracha (usually said on mitzvoth that come at intervals) is not said.
The main reason being that since Birkat HaChama is a blessing and is not a mitzvah 64,
nor is it any pleasure (hana’ah) to the body (e.g. a new fruit or a new suit), Shehechiyanu
is not said65. There are also those that explain that blessing “Oseh Maaseh Bereshith” –
that G-d, today, is recreating the works of the creation, is similar to, and contains the
same idea of Shehechiyanu – that we arrive at this important time66.

A cloudy day
The biggest issue dealt with, at great lengths, by all the commentaries is a cloudy day. If
the sun is not clearly visible is the bracha said? Most agree that if the sun’s “circle” can
be seen through the clouds than the full bracha is recited67. If not68, how long should one
wait for the clouds to disperse? Many say that the bracha should be recited without

61
With G-d’s name – i.e. “Baruch ata Hashem Elokeinu melech haolam”
62
The Raavad’s opinion is that all the brachot that are listed in the 9th chapter of Mesechet Brachot,
including Birkat HaChama, are said without “Shem Umalchut”. In addition, the Sede Chemed (Maarechet
Brachot 2:18) brings in the name of the Maharal MePrag that this bracha is said without “Shem Umalchut”,
though some explain his reluctance to use G-d’s name is because of the machloket between Shmuel and
Rav Ada regarding the calculations of the yearly cycle (see Rabbi Akiva Eiger Orach Chaim 229:2).)
63
This is the version of the Rosh, Tur, and Shulchan Aruch. But the Tosefta (6:10), Rif, Rambam and
others have the version as our Gemara – “Oseh Bereshith”. Rav Tukachinsky (Sefer Tekufat Hachama
Ubirkata) explains that they too only copied the shortened version from the Gemara, but they also actually
mean to recite the customary wording “Oseh Maaseh Bereshith”.
64
There are discussions in the commentaries as to which mitzvoth a Shehechiyanu is recited and which
ones not. (See Shach, Yoreh Deah, 28:5)
65
There are other reasons given that Shehechiyanu is not recited. See Ketav Sofer (Orach Chaim 35) that in
the future the sun will grow 70 times larger, and see Shu”t Maharam Shick (90) that there is no visible
difference seen on the sun.
66
See sefer Yizrach Ohr, perek 11, Kuntress Omer Hasadeh
67
See Shu”t Chatam Sofer Orach Chaim 56, et al.
68
Some compare the halacha to that of Kidush Levana, where we make a monthly blessing on the new
moon, where the moon must be visible enough to get benefit from its light in order to make the blessing.
The sun, even if not seen and is completely covered with clouds, still lights up the world with daylight and
provides benefit from its light. In addition, the Panim Meirot (Shu”t chelek 2, siman 38) writes that since
the entire Birkat HaChama is based on a mathematical calculation of when the sun returns to its place at
creation, and there is no physical change to be seen in the sun, therefore the bracha can be said in any case
even if covered by clouds and not visible at all. Most authorities, though, disagree with this opinion, and
with the comparison to Kidush Levana, and require actually seeing the sun (at least its circle through the
clouds) in order to recite the bracha, as the Gemara writes “Haroeh Chama Betkufata”- “When one sees the
sun in its season”.

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31 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

“Shem Umalchut” before the end of the first three hours of the day if the sun is not
visible. Others69 say to wait till noon. Once the bracha is said even without “Shem
Umalchut” it cannot be repeated later on fully if the sun is then seen. After noontime, the
full bracha is not recited in any case.

Women
Another issue dealt with extensively by the commentaries is whether women should/can
recite the bracha of Birkat HaChama. Seemingly, this is an example of a “Mitzvah aseh
shehazman grama” (a positive commandment that is time dependant) that women are not
obligated70. The Ashkenazi custom is that women can recite the bracha if they wish to;
while the Sephardic custom is that they do not. There are those that argue that this is not a
case of performing a commandment, but rather just a bracha, and even the Ashkenazi
women should not say the bracha. Alternately, there are those that argue that even
Sephardic women that do not bless on commandments that they are not obligated to
perform, but they do recite all the blessing in the prayers, even though not obligated. Here
too they may recite the Birkat HaChama.
Most poskim do not see any halachic reason why women cannot participate in Birkat
HaChama71, although it seems that the custom in the past was that women did not recite
Birkat HaChama72. This may be the case because women then were not so accustomed to
participate in the public prayers, and definitely not in instances of big public gatherings 73.
Many poskim are quoted that, even though they may not be obligated, women may, and
should, participate in the important bracha of Birkat HaChama 74.

Table of Birkat HaChama Occurrences
Birkat HaChama, of the start of the 207th cycle, will occur on Wednesday morning, Erev
Pesach, the 14th of Nisan, 5769, April 8th, 2009.
The calculation of the exact date in the Jewish calendar of past occurrences of Birkat
HaChama is only possible starting from when the calendar was set by Hillel II, the
Prince, in the year 4119 (359CE). Prior to that time, the start of each month, Rosh
Chodesh, was declared monthly by the Great Bet Din, depending on witnesses that saw
the new moon and other considerations, of which we have no historic knowledge.

69
Chatam Sofer ibid, Rav Tukachinsky, et al.
70
Similar to Kidush Levana, which the custom is that women do not recite. (See Magen Avraham, Orach
Chaim, 226 which gives a separate reason for not having women recite Kidush Levana which is not
applicable to Birkat HaChama.)
71
Shu”t Chatam Sofer ibid.
72
The Shoel Umashiv (Vol. 2, chelek 2, siman 168) writes that women should not make this bracha since
there is a fear that they may understand this as praying to the sun as they did in the days of the prophet
Yirmiyahu.
73
Maasat Binyamin ibid
74
Sefer Yizrach Ohr, perek 8,

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 32

The following table lists the Jewish and Julian/Gregorian 75 dates of past occurrences of
Birkat HaChama for the previous 800 years.

4 Nissan 5741 April 8 1981
23 Nissan 5713 April 8 1953
14 Nissan 5685 April 8 1925
5 Nissan 5657 April 7 1897
26 Nissan 5629 April 7 1869
16 Nissan 5601 April 7 1841
7 Nissan 5573 April 7 1813
26 Nissan 5545 April 6 1785
16 Nissan 5517 April 6 1757
7 Nissan 5489 April 6 1729
27 Adar II 5461 April 6 1701
19 Nissan 5433 April 5 1673
9 Nissan 5405 April 5 1645
29 Adar II 5377 April 5 1617
19 Nissan 5349 April 5 1589
9 Nissan 5321 March 26 1561
29 Adar II 5293 March 26 1533
21 Nissan 5265 March 26 1505
12 Nissan 5237 March 26 1477
20 Nissan 5209 March 26 1449
23 Nissan 5181 March 26 1421
12 Nissan 5153 March 26 1393
2 Nissan 5125 March 26 1365
23 Nissan 5097 March 26 1337
14 Nissan 5069 March 26 1309
5 Nissan 5041 March 26 1281
25 Nissan 5013 March 26 1253
16 Nissan 4985 March 26 1225

75
For the sake of simplicity, the table will assume the Julian calendar up to the year 5342/1582 and the
Gregorian calendar onwards.

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33 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

Future dates of Birkat HaChama
The following lists the dates of all the upcoming occurrences of Birkat HaChama until
the year 6000.

14 Nissan 5769 April 8 2009
23 Nissan 5797 April 8 2037
2 Nissan 5825 April 8 2065
12 Nissan 5853 April 8 2093
21 Nissan 5881 April 9 2121
2 Nissan 5909 April 9 2149
11 Nissan 5937 April 9 2177
19 Nissan 5965 April 10 2205
29 Adar II 5993 April 10 2233

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 34

Ben Chorin
Shoot me for saying this*
Shoot me for saying this, but the whole birchas hachamah thing bores me. I mean, it
stands to reason that a berachah that shows up once every 28 years would attract some
attention. But that doesn’t justify two lines of gemara and half a se’if in Shulchan Aruch
getting book-length treatments. With that degree of bloviation a lot of nonsense is bound
to be said.

Here is the short version. The gemara (Berachot 59b) cites a beraisa that when one sees
the sun, the moon, the planets and the constellations at some (unspecified) special point
in their respective cycles, one should recite the brachah “oseh [maaseh] bereishis”.
Abaye explains that with regard to the sun, the reference is to the point once every 28
years when the vernal equinox is on Tuesday evening (i.e., the beginning of what we call
“yom revi’i”).

If not for Abaye, one could have taken the reference to be to the annual vernal equinox.
But let’s work with Abaye. The simplest explanation of his remark is that, since as a
matter of convention a solar year is defined as 365¼ days, any given point during the
year will fall out on the same day and hour every 28 years. (28 times 365¼ is divisible by
7 and no number smaller than 28 will do the trick.) This is true in particular for the vernal
equinox – a distinguished astronomical point – and so we recite the berachah at the
vernal equinox every 28 years. (Rashi frums it up a bit by tying the particular spot in the
28-year cycle to the original point of creation, a flourish not mentioned by the gemara or,
subsequently, the Rambam. Why modern (?) commentators insist on seizing upon this
flourish as the starting point for the discussion is a mystery to me. Whatever.)

By this account, the 365¼-day year is merely a convention, a sort of canonical
approximation. There’s nothing to see out there every 28 years. And this shouldn’t bother
anyone. After all, by all accounts, the 28-year number is crucially dependent on the
seven-day week, which itself is merely a convention. And Hazal point out that our
holidays are defined by decisions of the beis din, not by astronomical events (“eileh
moadei hashem asher tikreu osam” – al tikri osam ela atem). In halacha, astronomical
events are anchors that prevent unlimited calendrical drift, but they aren’t constitutive.

This approach has a certain post-modern cachet and neatly avoids commitment to (very
very) bad astronomy. But still. You’ve got to wonder how people who know better – and
many great rabbanim did and do know better – can mark a virtual vernal equinox 18½
days after the actual equinox (which is today, Friday, at 11:44 GMT).

I think the answer lies in the dual definition of equinox used by Hazal (and many others).
The official (modern) definition of equinox is the (twice-a-year) moment when the line
connecting the sun to Earth is perpendicular to the earth’s axis (the line from the South
pole to the North pole). At that moment, the sun is moving east to west right along the

*
Friday, March 20, 2009, http://benchorin.blogspot.com/2009/03/shoot-me-for-saying-this-but-whole.html

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35 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

equator.

But there’s another, closely related, definition that was more commonly used in the olden
days and which is used by the Rambam: it is when the sun enters (the part of the celestial
sphere identified with) the constellation Aries (taleh). The two definitions were once
indistinguishable. But here’s the weird thing. The tropical year (the duration of one orbit
of the earth around the sun) is a bit over 11 minutes short of 365¼ days, so that the vernal
equinox by the standard definition is 18 days earlier than the virtual equinox Jews use.
But the sidereal year (the time it takes for the sun to get back to the same spot relative to
the constellations) is actually just over nine minutes longer than 365¼ days. And the
definition of the part of the celestial sphere identified with Aries is a bit fuzzy. So while
the virtual equinox has been visibly different than the actual equinox according to the
standard definition going back to Amoraic times, the sun did continue to rise in Aries at
the virtual equinox right up until about the year 1500. (The sun shifts relative to the
constellations by about one degree every 70 years and each constellation is identified
with 30 degrees worth of celestial sphere, so any point in the tropical year coincides with
a given constellation for about 2000 years.) So by the sidereal definition of equinox, we
were doing more or less okay for a while. By now, though, the actual (tropical) vernal
equinox is well into Pisces and even our virtual equinox has slipped into Pisces. The sun
actually enters Aries these days on April 15, a week after our virtual equinox. (Somebody
tracks this because Indian astrologers use the sidereal cycle to do whatever it is Indian
astrologers do. At least there are a few true believers left in this world.)

So in the end it’s all about the completion of a virtual cycle. That’s it. Move along, move
along. Nothing to see here.

The other events mentioned in the same beraisa, the completion of some sort of cycles
involving the moon, the planets and the constellations, have all gone the way of the dodo
bird. Nobody seems to have lost any sleep over any of them. If you get my drift...

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 36

A Simple Jew
Question & Answer With Rafi G. - Birchas HaChama*
A Simple Jew asks:

It seems like every publication coming out recently centers around Birchas HaChama. Do
you think that there has been too much of an emphasis on this transitory mitzvah?

Rafi G. of Life In Israel responds:

I have been seeing so many notices of pamphlets and books being printed about Birkas
Ha’Chama and shiurim given about it, that I had stopped paying attention. I said to
myself then, “It is happening in another 3 months/2 months/5 weeks - what’s the big
deal? Why all the preparation?”

On the one hand it is wonderful to see people get so excited about a mitzva. I think the
reason for the excitement is because it occurs so infrequently. There is something special
about doing a mitzva, anything really but especially a mitzva, that is so infrequent that it
does not give you the opportunity to do it by rote. When something is so rare, you think
about it, you try to understand it, you try to enhance the experience as much as you
possibly can.

On the other hand, the whole mitzva will take about 30 seconds, if stretched out as much
as you possibly could, to complete. Not only that, but it is also a bracha that we say for
various other natural occurrences as well, so while the event might be rare, our part in it
is really “nothing special”.

But the truth is that I don’t think we are making any more of a big deal out of it now than
we did in the past. I remember as a child, I would have been 8 years old, when it last
happened, the whole school went outside to say the bracha together. All the shuls
performed the mitzva together. They made a big deal out of it also.

While it might feel a bit “over the top”, it is human nature to try to appreciate something
that is so rare much more than something that is so common. We make the same bracha
on lightning, yet I can honestly say that during our last storm, I said the bracha on
lightning with not nearly the level of reverence that is leading up to the bracha for Birkas
Ha’Chama.

Perhaps we should learn a lesson from Birkas Ha’Chama about how we perform most of
the time “Mitzvas Anashim Melumada”, and how we can perform the same exact mitzva
with reverence and thorough analysis. The way we prepare for and recite the bracha on

*
Monday, March 23, 2009, http://asimplejew.blogspot.com/2009/03/question-answer-with-rafi-g-
birchas.html

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37 A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah

14 Nissan this year should remind us that we say the same bracha on many other
manifestations of Hashem being the Creator, and that we should treat all those other
times with even half the reverence with which we are treating Birkas Ha’Chama.

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A Bloggers’ Guide to Birkas Ha-Chamah 38

Other Online Resources

 Star-K
 R. J. David Bleich in Jewish Action
 R. J. David Bleich in Tradition
 JTA
 Wikipedia
 R. Eli Mansour I, II, III
 Dr. Julian Schamroth on Kehillaton.com

The Hirhurim – Musings blog is being published as a series of books! Enjoy having
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and available on your bookshelf for Shabbos and for years to come. Pre-order the
first volume now to assure yourself a 20% discount:
http://www.yasharbooks.com/Posts.html

The Jewish Economic Survey, analyzing the economic state of the Orthodox Jewish
community, is available online at SerandEz – just follow the link at the top of the
blog or use the following link:
http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?key=p-2WPRCDbkfzWDcHNWxlhdQ
There will be a presentation on the survey in Washington Heights in the near future.

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