# 1) Intro a. On April 8, 2009, we will have the opportunity to recite Birchas HaChama. b.

This opportunity arises once every twenty eight years. c. Birchas Hachama as we know it is a beracha that is made on an astronomical event. It marks the Creation of the sun as it was, on the same day and time. i. Ok that s it. But we will talk about more. ii. The Jewish Calendar, the calculation that this is all based on, the reasons for such a practice. The Jewish Calendar 2) Basics a. The Astronomy i. Rambam Can be understood by a school child (Kiddush Hachodesh 11:4) b. The different units of time (see Rambam KH 1:1 and Ibn Ezra Shemos 12:2) as based on the set movements of planets. i. Day rising and setting of the sun. You can t help but notice these. ii. Year Sun 1. There are long days and short days a complete cycle of both make a year 2. Length is approx 365.25 days iii. Month Moon and its variating ability to be seen 1. Length is about 29.5 days 2. Months cannot have half a day so they are at 29 or 30 and average out to 29.5. 3. If one wants twelve of these in their year, then that will make about 354 days. 4. A lunar month is 29 days, 12 hours and 793 chalakim (there are 1080 chalakim in an hour). This means that a lunar month is 29.5306 days, 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3.33 seconds. 5. The Jewish year is based on months and therefore, a 12 month year based on lunar months is 354.3672 days. a. What are chalakim? i. There are 1080 in a hour 1. It is a number which allows for easy division iv. Week - is arbitrary 1. Origin of week v. Hours, minutes and seconds are arbitrary and do not reflect any astronomical reality they are just convenient divisions c. The discrepancy integrating these different systems the Sun s unit is 365 days while the moon s is 354 called EPACT i. Possible ways 1. Ignore the moon a. This is what the (secular) Roman calendar has done where it s months reflect no astronomical reality b. The months have an average of about 30.5 days c. Judaism cannot doo this because we are told to begin with the new moon.

1. NONE of our years are actually the same length (365) as the sun. It was discovered that if you wanted to figure out where the lunar and solar cycles met. This is based (and possible) on the solar calculation known as Tekufas R Adda (see later) a. After a while. a. (details) b. How we adapted i. see later but see Rashbatz later) 4) The Sun/Year . This way. No heavenly body completes its orbit in 19 years. iii. In the times of the Beis Hamikdash. Adda's calendar system. there is zero discrepancy between the solar and lunar calendars after a period of 19 years. The 19 year cycle i. This is why Hebrew and English birthdays match every 19 years.we are Meaber the shana to make a shana meuberes 1. Ignore the sun a. That equals (almost exactly) 235 lunar cycles. Judaism cannot ignore the sun because the Torah says to Keep the month of spring to make it Pesach so we see that the Jewish holidays and calendar must track the solar calendar as well. but after only two. 3) Our Luni-Solar system a. The other 3 days . The old method i. we add a second month of Adar . ii. (except when a secular leap year interferes) 2. They would empirically declare the new month ii. The 19 year cycle is a mathematical convention and doesn't represent the completion of any real cycle. So we need to use both. It is merely an effective cycle for avoiding rounding errors in R. you would be able to by counting 19 solar years. (That is why reciting a blessing at that time is inappropriate. we need to add a month not after 3 years. This is what the Islamic calendar does i. they would allow Tekufas Nissan to begin as late as the 16th day of Nissan without interference. See Bleich pp 52 footnote 11 at length. They have an added number of years ii. Their dates have no connection with the seasons iii. 1.2. Pesach cannot fall before the spring equinox (Tekufas Nissan) 3.Adding a month isn t enough after 3 years we are 33 days behind and only adding 30. We are saying that we will add one more lunar cycle to our year 2. but keep things to the general seasons. How would we decide? Was there a system? c. If we see that Pesach is falling before Tekufas Nissan. This could be done as late as after Purim 3.

These are the summer and winter solstices. Although the months we have are arbitrary. We will get back to Abaya s explanation but some understand this in a way which turns Birchas Hachama into something else entirely: b. ii. Gemara Taanis 10a says that we begin in Chutz laaretz 60 says after Tekufas Tishrei. the distance has implication for the length of days and temperature. There is no mention of Abaya. These events represent turning point in the orientation of the Earth in its relationship to the sun and therefore have temperature/light based differences and therefore begin the different seasons 1. There are two days on which the days are basically equal these are the equinox s. a. i. See Bleich on pg 54 at length. there are some real events that occur in the Earth s revolution around the sun.a. iii. c. The Solstice and the Equinox 1. b. b. We need this information for a. due to the tilt (of about 23 degrees). This is obviously related to the solar calendar as it relates to the rainy season and is a seasonal event. The other explanations: i. depending on the one. one recites the beracha "oseh bereishis". Taz 116:4 quotes Ibn Ezra that these things were made up i. And so the Jewish calendar is interested in the Solar year in order that our lunar year does not speed up so as to lose the solar year and have Pesach fall out of season. There are two days on which the days have extremes longest day and longest night. The four Tekufos: a. 1. Mashiv Haruach i. but there is a R Chuna who says that this beracha is said when it is in the . Birchas Hachama which according to the explanation of Abaya occurs on the day of Tekufas Nissan 2. Tekufas Tamuz/Teves Summer Solstice 5) The Basis for Birchas HaChama (FILL IN) a. There is another aspect of halacha which is connected to the Tekufos found in Rama 116:5 that one should not drink water at the time of the Tekufa. Yerushalmi brings a similar statement and adds the words Kakiah b Tiharo . The Gemara cites a beracha that states that when one sees the sun in its "tekufa" and the moon in its "gevurah" the stars in their "mesillah" and the mazalos in order. What is Chamah b Tekufasa? 1. Background to seasons Tekufos (Turning Points) i. Tekufas Nissan/Tishrei The Equinox b. Background to the Tekufos/seasons i. ii. As the Earth revolves. Abaye states that this occurs every twenty eight years.

Rav Sa'adia has a different explanation altogether! (This is not a proof. To summarize. Talmidei Rabbeinu Yona brings the opinion without connecting it to the Gemarrah as does the Rosh. one recites birchas hachama.e. the next year at noon on Shabbos and the next year at 6:00pm on Sunday. Rabbi Akiva Eiger in the gilion asserts that the Aruch did not have this gemorrah. The beginning of Tekufas Tamuz everyyear because that is when the sun is b Tokfa its strongest and creating its longest day. rainy season and the celestial bodies have not been seen for three days. Why they might disagree with abaya i. Because the Tekufa of Shmuel is incorrect and so the 28 yr. b. i.see Lieberman. you will get 52 weeks and 1¼ days or 52 weeks and 30 hours) i. Rambam is apparently based on a source which explains all of the blessings in the baraita. 6) Explaining Abaya . Abayye's explanation (once every 28 years) is completely foreign to the spirit of the Tosafta and the Yerushalmi -. when it is cloudy for three days in a row and then the clouds clear. but that that it begin exactly at the beginning of that Yom Revii (Tuesday evening) like it did in creation. The next year. i.When is the Sun in its Tekufa ? a. if you divide 365 and ¼ into 7. . While others seem to say that he is disagreeing with abaya s explanation of Chama b Tekufasa The Aruch lists these as two interpretations of our gemara offers an alternative explanation of the Gemara which is that when the sun. but fits the picture). Rabeinu Channanel brings the Yerushalmi's interpretation before Abayye. e. but rather. moon and stars are all aligned together. there is much debate about whether Abaya s interpretation about there being a 28 year cycle that is meant to be marked is controversial. Some suggest that Abaya s opinion is a late insertion 1. f. the equinox will be one and one quarter days later in the week than the previous year (i. the Shulchan Aruch quotes only Abaya s understanding. cycle is meaningless. The sun was placed in the sky at creation in the first hour of Wednesday evening (6:00 pm when Wednesday begins which is considered Tuesday by secular standards). brings it as a perush . the Aruch brings both as equal perushim and doesn't quote the Gemarrah. the next year at 6:00 am on Friday. In any event. When it clears up. much more than "Abayye".c. The Rif does not bring it. Some explain that he is explaining this new Rakia b Tiharo (Pnei Moshe) 2. Rashi explains that each year. who incisively seems to associate Abayye more with the dissenting Rav Yuda who opposes blessing the sun (frequently) the third interpretation i. All of the Rishomin have a different wording of Abayye's concept. one recites this beracha. Because they disagree on whether the Jewish year begins in Nisan ii. 1.based on this. d. the equinox was at midnight on Thursday. What we are looking for is that the Tekufa (Equinox based on halachic calculation) be not only on a Yom Revii. the beracha is said. According to this explanation.

Every 28 years the year begins on the same day of the week. 1.1. Birchas Hachama according to Shmuel can fall out on Pesach of R Ada but Pesach is supposed to be before the equinox! ii. Why Tekufas Nissan? Even though Hachodesh Hazeh (Nisan) Lachem Rosh Chadashim.25 is inconsistent with other elements of the Jewish calendar where we use R Ada s calculation. the first of each month will as well. That there is a 28 year cycle is dependent on the fact that the year is assumed to be exactly 365. Would it be longer. So essentially.25 calculation is incorrect. [Also keep in mind something that is not so relevant to this discussion. G-d created the world and the Sun in the month of Nissan (Like R Yehoshua). Also. 365. The 365. The implication of the above explanation of the blessing is that Creation occurred in the month of Nissan. as we see the Equinox is on the 20th/21st! 1. It is important to note that there is a dispute regarding whether the world was created in Tishrei or in Nissan. V Sein Tal gets later and later about a day a century. Birchas Hachama assumes the following i. Who says that creation happened at an Equinox? will not discuss iii. How can we use it? Particularly when using it causes the following two problems/paradox: i. ii. Rosh Hashana marks creation in Tishrei. Through the Tefilos we say and the calculation of the Molados. This itself has only happened 206-207 times (including this one) 7) The Major Problems with these assumptions i. it will catch up to Pesach when we conclude saying it!! (t will take 42. This cycle is referred to as Machzor Hagadol or Machzor Hachammah 1. but people may be confused with this point-because of the adjustment of daylight savings time. Shulchan Aruch cites the opinion of Rashi.Why Nissan? a. 1. not Nissan.000 years) 8) Problem #1 . Rashi's explanation assumes that "chama betekufasa" is reason enough for its own beracha as is "levana begevurasa" and the others. it would take a much longer time for that moment to recreate itself. Who says that it happened the first moments of the 4th day? will not discuss iv. ii. sunset will be at 7:00 on the equinox. . G-d created the sun at the first moment of the day that s why the count starts at 6 iv. The calendar replicates itself every 28 years. Unlike the Aruch who understands that this beracha involves all of the celestial bodies. a. We assume that that the Sun was created at an Equinox. Eventually. Who says the original Nissan or Tishrei was anywhere near an equinox? iii. c. d. More so.25 days.] ii. i.

Eliezer.i. chakhmei) and Tosafos (12a sv. 237d) points out that the Rif and the Rosh. Yehoshua. br"h) writes that the world was created on the 25th of Elul and Adam was created on the first day of Tishrei. which is why they instituted the prayer "This is the day of the beginning of Your acts. seems to imply that the world was created in Tishrei (see also the unnamed commentary by R. Yerucham Fishel Perlow (Sefer Ha-Mitzvos Le-Rasag. which he suggests is the basis of the different custom in Gerona for selichos. the Ran concludes that the world was really created in Nissan. Ovadiah ben Yosef to Hilkhos Kiddush Ha-Chodesh 9:3). According to R. this is the subject of a Tannaitic dispute (Rosh Hashanah 10b-11a). Eliezer. . ii. omit the debate between R. in their restatements of the Gemara (12a). that the world was created in Nissan. 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. 1. Eliezer. that the world was created in Tishrei. 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. aseh 56. That is when God was creating the universe. the world was created in Tishrei. the Ran suggests. iii. the Ritva (Rosh Hashanah 27a sv. According to R. which culminates on Yom Kippur. Rashi (12a sv. vi. la-mabul) explain that we hold like R. like R. ke-man) disagrees with Rabbenu Tam and explains that the Gemara concludes like R. Eliezer. He believes that this implies that they follow R. R. 3. 8:5) writes: And know. is the basis of the custom in Barcelona (and Ashkenazic communities) to say selichos on the few days prior to Rosh Hashanah. v. like R. as understood by the Kessef Mishneh. vii. After pointing out that there is a prayer by R. p. Yehoshua. Eliezer and R. Rabbenu Tam suggests that in Tishrei God thought about creating the world and in Nissan He brought His plan to fruition. Hilkhos Shemitah 10:2). 4. like R. However. Yehoshua. However. The Rambam (Mishneh Torah. Yehoshua. The conclusion (12a) is that we count years from Tishrei. a remembrance of the first day". Similarly. iv. Yehoshua. the world was created in Nissan. that [the Sages] agreed that the world was created in Tishrei. However. Rosh Hashanah 2a) and Tishrei is the beginning of the year for the counting of the sabbatical and jubilee. The Ran (Commentary to Rosh Hashanah 16a sv. that the world was created in Nissan. Tosafos (sv. 2. the Ramban in his commentary to the Torah (Gen. and we count tekufos (seasons) from Nissan. but we count years from Tishrei because there are multiple times of the year that we call Rosh Hashanah for various purposes (cf. This. 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.

However. How they breathed and felt. It seems that we unquestionably follow R. these problems are sufficiently significant that R. Tzvi Pesach Frank (Responsa Har Tzvi. then we must follow this custom and continue the practice. Later authorities have generally adopted this approach of the Chasam Sofer. ³Shekacha Lo b¶Olamo´ (Who has such in His universe)? Whether the mighty crash of thunder or the endless vista of the blue seas. the flash of lightning. We are meant to appreciate nature i.How awesome are the features of nature upon which we make the blessings of ³Oseh Maaseh Beraishis´ (Who makes the work of creation) and ³Shekocho u¶Gevuraso Maleh Olam´ (for His strength and His power fill the universe)? Or the beauty about which we praise. Quote . Akiva Eiger (Glosses to Shulchan Arukh. the Grand Canyon or Mt. ³How different were our Rabbis in this respect. out of the daylight and the night shadows. Orach Chaim 1:119) writes that since there is a doubt whether we follow Shmuel or R. Adda. How they wanted to demonstrate to us that every creature was a preacher of His power. How they wanted to awaken our senses for all that is sublime and beautiful in Creation. How they wanted to teach us to fashion a wreath of adoration for G-d out of the morning¶s rays and the evening blush. thought and lived in G-d¶s marvelous Nature. and to be inspired by the wonders inherent in them (Leo Levi Facing Current Challenges pp 322) a. R¶ Hirsch ± alps story ii. Orach Chaim 56) acknowledged this difficulty and leaves it unresolved. 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. and since this blessing is one of praise and we recite blessings of praise even in cases of doubt. I am not sure where he found a doubt in this matter. Sun worship Other Astronomical Issues 1) The length of each individual season and the inconsistency of planetary speed see Bleich 54 note 12 2) The extra half second in the moon s cycle . 4) 5) was established to awaken us from the deep sleep of habit. He quotes the Sheyarei Knesses Ha-Gedolah (229:2) who says that in previous generations this blessing was never recited.So why do we do it? 1) On the one hand. a. out of the star¶s glimmer and the flower¶s scent. R. to encourage us to look beyond the mechanical laws of nature. In R¶ Hirsch¶s words6: iii. the Chasam Sofer writes that since the custom in his region is to recite the blessing every 28 years. On the flip side. that is why we recite this blessing. with the Minchas Yitzchak (8:34) going so far as to say that the blessing is not dependent on reality: 2) " 3) 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. b. out of the roar of the sea and the rumble of the thunder. However. Adda. Everest. The Chasam Sofer (Responsa. Chazal instituted blessings for us to accurately quantify our gush of inspired amazement. a monitor of our duties. what a Divine revelation they made of the book of Nature´ 6) Why not more regularly? a.

first questions whether it is appropriate to recite the beracha in light of Rav Ada's opinion. However. Later authorities have generally adopted this approach of the Chasam Sofer. While he resolves that problem. The Chasam Sofer (Responsa. Orach Chaim 1:119) writes that since there is a doubt whether we follow Shmuel or R. c. i. I am not sure where he found a doubt in this matter. Adda. that is why we recite this blessing. On the flip side. Chaim Benbenisti (1603-1673) Shiyarei Kneses Hagedola . However. Tzvi Pesach Frank (Responsa Har Tzvi. c.How it is Done 1) The Beracha of Oseh Maaseh Bereishis . one should recite the beracha with Shem and Malchus. then we must follow this custom and continue the practice. and since this blessing is one of praise and we recite blessings of praise even in cases of doubt. R. As we already noted.General 2) Is this a reshus or a chiyuv? a. he notes that one should not recite a beracha with Shem and Malchus because according to Aruch. Adda. the Chasam Sofer writes that since the custom in his region is to recite the blessing every 28 years. The Chida (R. Chasam Sofer 56 Har Tzvi OC I:119 3) Shem u Malchus a. there were some acharonim who were concerned for the opinion of the Aruch and therefore. there is no obligation to recite a beracha. . Reasons why some poskim were hesitant to recite the beracha with shem and malchus b. Chaim Yosef David Azulai 1724-1807) writes that he has observed that in almost all communities the beracha is recited with Shem and Malchus and that unless one has a specific custom that predates Shulchan Aruch and Rama. 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. b. It seems that we unquestionably follow R. d. He quotes the Sheyarei Knesses Ha-Gedolah (229:2) who says that in previous generations this blessing was never recited. R. Orach Chaim 56) acknowledged this difficulty and leaves it unresolved. felt that we should employ safek berachos l'hakel.

Mishna Berurah (R. i. it is better to recite it as soon as one sees the sun that morning. one can recite the beracha until chatzos. R. rather than to wait for a public gathering. Magen Avraham also quotes a dispute as to whether one should recite the beracha at the first sighting of the sun or whether the entire congregation should say it together after Shacharis. discussion begins on page 43] has a lengthy discussion about this topic and he concludes that the minhag is to daven vasikin and then after the kaddish of Uva L'Tzion. . R. O. The Chida writes that this is contingent on whether it is better to fulfill zerizin makdimin l'mitzvah or whether it is better to fulfill b'rov am hadras melech. What about a place which is a a more northern latitude where is might be visible after the moment of the Tekufa? b. one cannot recite the beracha. ii. such as "Mekadesh Es Sh'mo BaRabim. Yechiel Michel Tukaczinski [click here to access the sefer. Rambam writes that the beracha is recited the morning after the phenomenon occurs (which will always be on a Wednesday morning). he specifically says the morning.d. R.C. R. c. Yisrael Meir Kagan 1838-1933) seems to rule that on a cloudy day. There is a general discussion about berachos that were instituted after Talmudic times. Magen Avraham) writes that one cannot recite the beracha after three hours of the day. everyone goes out and recites the beracha. one may recite the beracha. iii. 4) When? -The Seder HaYom a. Eliyahu Shapira (1660-1712) disagrees and writes that one should be able to recite the beracha at least until chatzos. Kunitz's comment is referenced by R. The reason is because it is not visible at night. Akiva Eger (to Shulchan Aruch. 5) What happens on a cloudy day? a. R. ii. When is the latest time in the day to recite Birchas HaChama? i. Moshe Kunitz records that the Maharal of Prague (1520-1609) recited it without Shem and Malchus out of concern that the beracha was instituted after Talmudic times. However. ii. 229)." ii. Avraham Gombiner (1633-1683. if the sun cannot be seen at all. Chasam Sofer rules that if the sun is discernible from behind the clouds. i. i. He concludes that zerizin is more important and therefore.

rather. because it us said on lightening. There is not particular difference and it seemd that this was just an abridged way of writing it.. Who makes creation vs who makes the works of creation 8) No Shehechiyanu a. c. you can do it until right before midday without shem umalchus 6) Berov Am Hadras Melech a. Because the status of the sun and the moon are deficient and so there is simcha but it is tempered (Ksav Sofer OC 34) this is thereason for both Kiddush LEvana and Birchas HAchama. Question about which is more important doing it yourself or this 7) The Beracha a. and are relevant to all berachos of Oseh Maaseh bereihis. There are all sorts of halachos relating to capturing the window of opportunity when it clears up when you are in the middle of davening etc. it is not novel iv. R Bleich does bring one shitta who says that a shehechiyanu IS said as a thanksgiving for be able to make the beracha b. but Birchas HAchama is not an acknowledgement of the pleasure derived from the sun and it itself is not a mitzvah. Some wear something new so that they can say the shehechiyanu on this mitzvah 9) You look at the sun and make the beracha within Toch k dei dibur . b. b. If it does NOT clear up i. ii. Why not? i. iii. it is an acknowledgement of G-d s divine omnipotence. If you can t do it all morning.i. The beracha of Shehechiyanu is established for the ability to experience the pleasure of a mitzvah there is discussion about Kiddush Levana because it marks the renewed benefirt from the moon. See Bleich about the controversy about whether or not you say OSeh maaseh or just Baruch Oseh Beraishis (like in Baruch Shemamar) i. This ruling is codified by Mishna Berurah. Other s suggest tat the beracha.