Sunday, April 05, 2009

Birchas HaChammah PSA: Do Not *Stare* Into The Sun For The Purpose of Birchas HaChammah!

At first, I thought to make a funny kol koreh, telling people that they needed to stare into the sun for a minimum shiur of one minute, or else throughout the entire ritual -- and that one should do this with one eye, so that 28 years later he will be able to use the other eye for birchat hachama, having burned out his retina in the first. But I was dissuaded by people who pointed out that previous kol korehs I put out were taken seriously, and who knows? All I would need it one person to do it.

So instead I will make this a helpful tip. Just glance at the sun, to see that it is there, and then say whatever you need to say. You do not want to blind yourself. Years of havdalah or kiddush wine will not fix it.

The same message is included in the book Once in 28 Years by Rabbi Moshe Goldberger:
One caveat: It is not necessary — moreover, it is dangerous — to stare into the sun before or after saying the berachah. All that is necessary is to glance at the sun briefly.
Indeed, not only is it dangerous -- does chamira sakanta mei-Issurah apply to non-fatal harm -- there are halachic reasons, though I don't find the halachic considerations so compelling. That is, just as by kiddush levana, the practice has developed that one should merely glance at the moon to ascertain it is there, but not look at the moon during, so that it does look like one is praying to the moon:
Although the Shulchan Aruch writes that one should view the moon during Kiddush Levana, some are wary of this practice lest it seem as if we are praying to the moon. Some suggest that one view the moon only during the beracha, while others only permit glancing at the moon before the beracha (MB 13 and Shaar Hatzion 14).
one may say the same thing about looking at the sun. Indeed, the Chabad poster at JNUL gives the same instruction and connects it to kiddush levana:

Also, for today, check out Ima on the Bima for the Haveil Havalim roundup!

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