Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bircas HaChamah

Here are some interesting facts about Bircas Hachama (brought to you by Kehillaton):

Once every 28 years, the Sun returns to the position it occupied when it was created at the beginning of the fourth day of creation.

The night before the event, it is customary make an announcement in the synagogue about the Blessing that will take place the next morning. This is to encourage more people to attend.

If clouds threaten to obscure the Sun, then the Blessing should be said straight away, even if it is said before morning prayers, and even if it means saying the Blessing without a minyan. Some authorities permit the saying of Birkat Hachama even if the sky is overcast. One should simply look at the place where the Sun would appear and say the Blessing, since one is saying the Blessing at the time of the event, and not necessarily upon seeing the actual event.
If reciting the Blessing when the Sun is partially, or completely obscured, then only the Blessing (and not the accompanying prayers) should be recited.

Is there anything special about this date, 14 Nissan 5769?
There might be: the Kadosh Elyon (the 'Ostrovster Admor') wrote that there are only 3 times in 6,000 years of Jewish history when Birkat Hachama falls on 14 Nissan. [4] These are: Prior to being redeemed from Egypt; Prior to the miracle of Purim; and In the year 5769.

Since the first 2 occurrences preceded miracles and redemption, the Admor wrote that in the year 5769 the same will occur: This will be last time ever and shortly afterwards, the redemption must come, b'h.

Note: The Ostrovster Admor wrote that Birkat Hachama falls on 14 Nissan only 3 times in
history, when, in fact, the year 5769 will be the 11th time that this occurs! (The last time was on 8 April 1925). Perhaps he was referring only to those times when Birkat Hachama precedes a major redemption. Certainly 5769 will be the last time when this can happen.

Another interesting aspect of this date is that the Moshiach ben David will arrive at the end of a 7-year cycle. [5] The year 5768 is a shmitta (sabattical) year, and is followed by 5769, the year in which we recite Birkat Hachama.


Mikeinmidwood said...

7 goes into 28, it will always come out this way.

Anonymous said...

This is actually at least the 20th time it happened erev pesach. Artscroll has a chart showing all the dates it occured. Its amazing how jews are so superstitious and plain dumb over stuff like this.

Jessica said...

Anon - it's nothing to do with superstitions. It just seems cool so people mention.

Pinny said...

1. Thanks for all the Birkas Hachamah
info and for the rest of your posts.

2. The Ostrovtser's statement is quoted from his Shabbos Hagadol drasha in 5685 (1925). If he stated this at all he must have been referring to Birkas Hachamah 4 days later, as Birkas Hachama fell out on Erev Pesach that year - 1925.

2. There are enough questions about the Ostrovtser's statement, that I have seen it surmised that the person who quoted him in the sefer in which this statement is found (Meor Einei Chachomim, Vol 2, p. 52) may have transcribed the statement incorrectly. (The Ostrovtser was a math wiz and would not likely have made some of the calculation mistakes noted below.)

Some problems:
a. The year of the Exodus was 2449 (i.e., 2448 years after creation in year One)- NOT the end of a 28 year cycle - 2437 (11 years prior) and 2465 (17 years subsequent) were.

b. Similarly, Purim (c. 3404?) was not in the year of a potential Birkas Hachamah.

c. Excluding all they years before Hillel II created our fixed calendar, 2009 is the 5th time Birkas Hachamah fell out on Erev Pesach. They were/are (secular years) 609, 693, 1309, 1925, & 2009.

d. The reason to exclude the years before Hillel II is because before that time, the first day of any month was determined based on witnesses testifying in Bais Din about having seen the new moon. So, barring any record about any specific instances, there is no guarantee that B"D would have declared the first of Nisan during those "Erev Pesach Birkas Hachamah years" on the day that our current calendar would have had it occur.