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Posts Tagged ‘Blessing of the Sun’

“The Blessing of the Sun” is getting quite a bit of press lately, so I thought I would post a little information on it. It appears to be a Rabbinical practice that has found its way into Hebrew Roots:

APRIL 2, 2009, 11:54 P.M. ET Love the Earth? Bless the Sun

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123872560930985495.html

By JULIE WIENER
According to Talmudic calculations, every 28 years the sun is in the exact position it occupied at the time of Creation. As it happens, that moment falls on Wednesday, April 8, of this year, at sunrise — just hours before Passover begins. There is a brief blessing for the occasion, too. It is called Birchat Hachamah, Hebrew for “blessing of the sun.” But the sun is a hot topic these days, not least because of global warming, and this time around the blessing, in itself, is not enough: A whole environmental message is being attached to what was once a simple ceremony.

The Hebrew blessing itself — the English translation is “Blessed are You, King of the Universe, who makes the works of creation” — is quite brief, its text the same as the blessing one is commanded to say upon seeing a natural wonder like lightning or the Grand Canyon. At its last scheduled recitation, back in 1981, Birchat Hachamah was virtually unheard of outside the Orthodox community. While approximately 300 “neo-chasidic” and “renewal” Jews, led by Orthodox rabbis Zalman Schachter and Shlomo Carlebach, commemorated the moment atop the Empire State Building, the event generated little media coverage, and most people who recited the blessing simply did so as a postscript to daily morning services in Orthodox synagogues. In 1953, according to Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University, the ritual didn’t even garner a mention in “The American Jewish Yearbook.”

The year 5769 (2008-2009) will be the little known Jewish year of “Birkhat HaHammah” the “blessing of the sun.” Every 28 years, the ancient rabbis demarked a time in the Jewish calendar that celebrates the ceremonial return of the sun to its original place in the cosmos during creation.

Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

http://www.jrf.org/birkat-hahammah

Tradition holds that the sun was created at the spring equinox, the first hour of the night before the fourth day of Creation. Every 10,227 days – according to the Babylonian Talmud, tractate Berachot 59b – the sun returns to its position at Creation. As codified in the Shulchan Aruch and on the basis of intricate calculations reconciling the Jewish and Gregorian calendars, Birkat HaChammah, a prayer service marking this 28-year cycle, is conducted on a Wednesday in the month of Nissan, when the sun is about 90 degrees above the eastern horizon.

The year 5769 is such a year. The Blessing of the Sun takes place on April 8, 2009 (erev Pesach). It is interesting to note that the secular date was the same throughout the 20th century, and scholars have determined it will continue to be marked on this date throughout the current century.

http://www.ritualwell.org/holidays/sitef…411107743/

Here is a Messianic teaching on it from FFOZ – First Fruits of Zion, headed by Boaz Michaels. FFOZ is known for their kabbalistic and Talmudic teachings as they are incorporated into the Hebrew Roots venue.

A certain traditional Jewish ceremony has been in the news and blogs lately, known as Birkat HaChammah, or the Blessing of the Sun. This blessing is recited on an extraordinarily infrequent basis: only once every 28 years! The last time it was recited was 1981, which means that this is the year for the blessing to come around again.

If you have heard of this blessing for the first time this year, it may have aroused your suspicion. Is it legitimate, or some weird idea out of nowhere?

Good news: the blessing is not pagan, new age, magical, astrological, or even kabbalistic. The origin of the blessing is at least from the Talmudic era (c. 200-500 CE), although it could be earlier. It is possible that the blessing existed in the days of the Master and the apostles.

The idea behind the blessing is simple. The universe is comprised of a wide variety of cycles. From earth, those cycles appear as day and night, the phases of the moon, the courses of planets through their backdrop of stars, the changing of the seasons, etc. Many practices in Judaism are connected with these cycles, such as the daily prayers, the new moons, and the yearly holidays. This corresponds with God’s intended purpose: “let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14).

The 28 Year Cycle of the Sun

Like the moon and planets, the sun itself can be seen as going through a cycle. Throughout the year, the sun’s position in the sky changes, corresponding with the variety of seasons. There are four milestones in these fluctuations: the two solstices (winter and summer) and the two equinoxes (autumn and spring).

One Jewish tradition holds that the sun was created in the position of the spring (vernal) equinox. Thus, each spring, the sun completes a yearly cycle.

The Torah (Genesis 1:14-19) teaches that the sun was created on the fourth day. The fourth day of the week is the period from Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon. Once in seven years, the spring equinox occurs during that period of the week. So in a sense, every seven years, when the spring equinox occurs on the fourth day, we can consider the sun as having completed another, larger cycle.

The day can be divided into four parts: evening, night, morning and afternoon. According to Jewish tradition, the sun was not only created during the fourth day, but specifically the first part of the day, that is, the evening. The evening of the fourth day of the week corresponds with Tuesday evening.

Each year, the exact moment of the equinox could occur in any of those four parts of the day, adding a factor of four to our cycle. When all three of those factors coincide (the spring equinox of the year, the fourth day of the week, and the evening part of the day), we could consider the sun as having completed a full cycle, bringing it back to its original point at the time of creation.

This cycle occurs once every 28 years, which makes sense if you think about it:Spring equinox:1 day each year
Fourth day:1 out of 7 days of the week
First part of day:1 out of 4 parts of the day
1 year × 7 × 4 = 28 years.

The Blessing

The blessing itself is not uncommon. Like most blessings in Judaism, it begins with the phrase “Blessed are You, O LORD, our God, King of the universe.” While the name of the blessing is “the blessing of the sun,” we don’t actually bless the sun, we bless God.

The Symbolism of Birkat HaChammah

Birkat HaChammah does not have any inherent symbolism, except to say that a natural cycle has occurred, which prompts us to bless the Creator. But on the other hand, it is very easy to draw out symbolism from the ceremony. In fact, it is so easy to draw out symbolism that the ceremony reflects whatever community or individual recites it. To environmentalists, the blessing has a message of global warming or conservation. To mystics, the ceremony spurs deep and esoteric ideas. To rationalists, the ceremony is naturalistic. To messianics, the ceremony is ripe with messianic imagery.

Consider this: since the ceremony marks the return of the sun to its original position at the time of creation, it can be seen as a token for a return of the created world to its original, perfect condition. This is what will occur with the ultimate messianic redemption. This ceremony always occurs in the month of Nisan, which is called the month of redemption. It is the month of the year that God redeemed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and in some opinions, it is the destined time of the future redemption (b.Rosh Hashanah 11a).

Also of interest is the connection between the Messiah and sun imagery. In the Talmud (b.Sandhedrin 98b), a statement is made connecting this verse with the Messiah:

May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed! (Psalm 72:17)

This entire Psalm has very strong messianic overtones, as it was written by King David for his son, Solomon. An earlier verse in the same chapter also contains sun imagery. This verse is often included in the liturgy for Birkat HaChammah:

May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations! (Psalm 72:5)
(One fascinating feature of this Psalm is that it contains “encoded” within it both the names “Messiah” and “Yeshua.”)

It is worth remembering that Joseph, who strongly foreshadowed the Messiah, had a dream in which the sun bowed down to him (Genesis 37:9).
Also of note is the identification between the sun and light and the Messiah himself. The prophets speak of the “sun of righteousness” (Malachi 4:2) and tell of the redemption and the Messiah in terms of light. The apostles frequently connect the Messiah to light and brilliance.

One amazing moment when this connection was exemplified was the transfiguration, when “his face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2). Perhaps the transfiguration is a good topic of study for the event. The transfiguration always makes me think of this beautiful passage from Yalkut Shimoni (a late compilation of aggadic midrash):

At the time when King Messiah comes, he will stand on the roof of the Holy Temple, and he will proclaim to Israel, saying: “Humble ones! The time of your redemption has arrived! And if you don’t believe me, look at my light which is shining upon you!” (Yalkut Shimoni Yeshayahu 60:499)

This Year’s Unique Timing

This year, the ceremony of Birkat HaChammah remarkably coincides with the day prior to the Passover seder (April 8). This is the day of the year when we burn our leftover chametz (leaven), and when the Temple stood, it was the day when the Passover lambs were slaughtered. Since Birkat HaChammah is based on a solar cycle rather than a lunar one, the date of Birkat HaChammah on the Hebrew calendar varies, and the correspondence between these two events is rare. Many people feel that this connection has messianic or redemptive implications.

(Some of you may have noted that the spring equinox this year has already occurred. The discrepancy is due to the fact that when this tradition first developed, the Sages chose the simpler and less accurate Julian calendar for reckoning the equinox. This has slowly shifted and become less and less accurate over time. But as this event is more symbolic rather than astronomical, it is not really a concern.)

Once in 28 Years

I want to really encourage you to participate in this ceremony. Try and gather a minyan if at all possible. Think about it: if humanity continues on its current path, the next time the opportunity for this blessing will occur, it will be the year 2038. At that time, you will probably have children about your age now. Most likely, many people reading this will not be alive. Many new people will have been born. Technology will be dramatically different. It is impossible to predict what the political world will be like.

Due to advances in communication and education, this Birkat HaChammah has the potential to be the most widely observed in all of history. Are you going to join the worldwide chorus?

http://ffoz.org/blogs/2009/03/birkat_hac…ssing.html

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From the SeekGod Forum – posted by Vic

http://www.seekgod.ca/forum/showthread.php?tid=232&pid=1611#pid1611

Bless the Sun actually has a website, promoting the Jewish tradition as well as noting how it melds with earth/envirnmental groups. They also have a list of events taking place across the United States, as well as Israel.

It was rather a surprise to see a few listings stating the following:

…GEORGIA
Time: 6:45 – 7:15am, April 8 (followed by breakfast)
Place: Grant Park Bandstand, Atlanta (at the corner of Boulevard and Atlanta – across from the playground)
What: A short service, a gentle yoga cycle of sun salutations and recite the blessing together. For those that can stay we will have breakfast and coffee at the near by Solstice Café. Bring your yoga mat or towel. For more information,…

And >

Quote:MARYLAND Time: April 8, 7:15am yoga and 8:30am prayer and study
Place: Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, 7727 Persimmon Tree Lane, Bethesda, MD 20817

What: Birkat Hakhama and Ta’anit HaBechorot observances beginning with yoga, followed by prayer and study using Masekhet HaKhama

Many celebrations listed include a Fast for the Firstborn, and that aside from the talmud sourcing we see also listed from Israel:

Place: Safed/Tzfat
What: SUN BLESSING FESTIVAL – BIRKAT HaCHAMA FESTIVAL
For Whom: Northern Galilee and Israel, International

Time: April 8-15
Place: Tsfat (Safed), Israel
What: Kabbalah, Tours Prayers, Ceremony, Hallel, Art shows, Workshops, Solar Energy presentations and much more
For Whom: All walks of life are WELCOME!

…. http://www.sunblessing.org/festival


From that website, we read:

Birkat HaChama Festival in SAFED, April 8-15, 2009

The Birkat HaChama (The Blessing of the Sun) Festival will begin on the morning of April 8th, Erev Pesach, next Spring 2009. Erev Pesach (literally, the Eve of Passover) is the day preceding the annual seven-day Festival of Freedom.

The actual Blessing of the Sun Prayer will be recited on Erev Pesach morning (Hebrew date: 14 Nissan 5769). According to ancient Jewish tradition, 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 (Genesis 1: 14).

THE SUN IS OUR MAJOR ENERGY SOURCE, yet how often do we thank God …. This … is an invitation for us to co-create a better future, together, by honoring its source and each other. This is the first year after Shmita (in the Jewish tradition, every seventh year one stops all agricultural activities in order to let Mother Earth rest). Thus, this is a time to re-plant, to grow anew, and to bring fresh blossoms to the world. We are planting new seeds for a better future and for the renewal of the next 28-year cycle. The Kabbalists believe that the Messianic times will come at the end of a Shmita year, so let’s help in the miracle making! (See Kabbalistic Information for an explanation of the Kabbalistic tradition and the significance of the year leading up to this Passover 2009.)

This Safed-based Kabbalistic Blessing of the Sun Festival is…

A Modern Biblical Community Event
A Renewal of Alternative Solar Energies – recharging our environment for another 28-year cycle
An Evocation of Mystical Experiences, featuring a ceremony on the Metsudah, the ancient citadel in the geographic center of our town
A Celebration of Cultural Diversity, with musical performances, art displays, poetry readings, healing workshops,…
Is Blessed with Exceptional Timing, as it is considered by the Kadosh Elyon to be the third most auspicious Birkat HaChama in history

… let’s co-create the next 28-year cycle of a PURER ENVIRONMENT!

MISSION STATEMENT
This Sun Blessing Festival will be an opportunity for Bridging of worlds; culturally and traditionally, between non – religious and religious people in the Holy land and world wide. To mingle culturally and learn new alternative ideas and artistic methods. To invite and inspire people from all over the world to partake in a mystical Passover in the most Kabbalah-rich town in the world, which also happens to fall on Easter Sunday. ….

many Kabbalists discovered the secrets of Jewish mysticism, through the Zohar, attributed to Shimon Bar Yochai (whose tomb is in nearby Meron), master kabbalist Isaac Luria’s explanations of the Tree of Life, his revelation of the secrets of reincarnation, and his creation of the Kabbalat Shabbat ritual, ….

This Holy City is said to host the Shekhinah Herself (the female principle of God), so by our coming together to honor the Blessing of the Sun, in Her midst, we may be able to elicit and enhance the messianic times, B’ezrat HaShem. As a consequence, we may inspire our sister city Jerusalem to co-celebrate this event, as the Birkat HaChama is recited there at the Western Wall on Pesach 2009….

http://www.sunblessing.org/festival

Likely many in HR and Messianics will embrace this Talmudic and Kabbalistic celebration as is found with FFOZ, and others.

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