Monday, April 06, 2009

Yet another Birchas HaChama roundup

  1. The Wall Street Journal on Birchas Hachamah. See the dispute about it between Rabbi Bleich and Dr. Sarna. A nice, and true, quote:
    According to Rabbi Bleich, environmental concerns are "issues in and of themselves and are totally unrelated to the blessing of the sun." He sees the blessing as an occasion to acknowledge the wonder of God's creations, not a political statement. "I suppose you can connect anything," he says. "You can draw dots and lines; you don't have to be logical."
  2. DovBear on "the dirty little truth about the Sun blessing":
    The upshot, unfortunately, is this: Our sun blessing this Wednesday will not correspond with any astronomical event.

    And what of the precious idea that Birchas Hachama is a celebration of the moment when the sun returns to the spot where it was created?

    Well, bad news, but that's bogus. too.
  3. Meanwhile, I've been blogging a bit about kiddush hachama on parshablog. And in one post, I wonder whether Modern Orthodox Jews (and indeed Jews in general) should say the bracha, or if it is a bracha levatalah, since among other reasons, they are not seeing the sun in its tekufah.

  4. This Chabad article attempts to address the Sun not being in the right place.

  5. Rabbi Chaim Brovender has a nice response to those who question whether one should make Birchas HaChama. The response, however, seems to me to be more along the lines of what determines hashkafa rather than halacha. And the year ending in 9 is not really a problem with the count. Anyway, here is the response:

  6. Rabbi Brovender has a followup video post on how and when to say Birchas Hachamah. He includes a discussion of the Aruch's position of the sun after three days of clouds:

  7. MOChassid on the phenomenon of Birkat HaChama. An excerpt:
    First, this is more or less how I feel about the whole Birchas HaChamah spectacle. While I do fargin the oilam their expression of their sense of community, I don't really get all the fuss. As Ben Chorin suggests, this celebration reflects a consumer society with too much time on its hands. I've refused to buy any of the fifteen books that have been published (or even to read the articles in Mishpacha and oher magazines) because I have a hard enough time setting aside time to review the Haggadah and I don't have time for distractions. But, whatever.
  8. The Seforim blog on Birkat Hachama in the old Jewish cemetery of Frankfurt.

  9. Yeranen Yaakov wonders about the appropriateness of music for birkat hachamah.

  10. Other parshablog posts on Birchas Hachamah: Rav Ovadia Yosef on wearing sunglasses when glancing at the sun; Why HaChamah and not Hashemesh? Birchas Hahama after three days of clouds? Why you should glance at the sun, and not stare at it. And an earlier Birchat Hachamah roundup.

  11. Shirat Devorah has a statement from an ophthalmologist not to look directly at the sun.

  12. And via Shirat Devorah, Geulah Perspectives has a post on mentioning Rav Kaduri and a statement that "on the day of Birkas Hachama (this Wednesday) there will be a sign of מתיקות הדינים - sweetening of judgments." We will have to see. I don't think everything must be about the ultimate redemption. We can have a lot of fun, and earn a lot of sechar, along the way.


Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

I haven't been following your discussion of Birkat HaChama - I have been distracted by other matters - but I personally think (and plan to blog soon) that the suggestion that Birkat Hachama is any more farcical, inappropriate or subject to strictures of berakha levatala than any other astronomically based Jewish practice (for example, Rosh Hodesh, Yom Tov, etc.) is misguided. As R' Bleich notes in his excellent book, the Rambam codifies Birkat Hachama despite possessing a knowledge of astronomy far superior to that of the Talmudic Sages. Moreover, there is much evidence to suggest that the Amora Shmuel himself recognized the inaccuracy of his calculation.

The bottom line is that the 28 year cycle is the closest thing to a cycle that we, as finite beings, can appreciate. Even R' Ada's more accurate model would yield a cycle so vast and complex that it would recur only after many thousands of years, thus offering little to us in terms of being able to connect to it through ritual.

So I believe Hazal instituted this practice to highlight the existence of such a macro-level cosmic cycle in terms accessible to us, all the while leaving us enough data to realize that we are incapable of fathoming the true cycle "kelapei shmaya". This is similar to Shabbat, which is every 7 days to commemorate the 7 days of creation, despite the fact that the primordial 7 days represent a far greater span of time than a human week.

Anonymous said...

Pesach and Birchas Yitzchak
Pesach is a time for questions, so I will go through the Parsha of Birchas Yitzchak and Pesach and find the connection between them. First let us see the Parsha
1) Rivkah tells Yackov go bring two goats and you will give it to your father and thereby receive the Brochos.
2) Before giving the Brochos to Yackov the Torah says that Yitzchak drank wine the Targum Yonsan Ben Uziel adds that the angel Gavriel brought the wine.
3) Eisav walks in and demands the beans Yackov cooks for his fathers Avielus for Avraham, when he eats them the torah says he first ate “Bread”.
4) Back to Eisav Chazal say the day Avraham died Eisav did 5 (some say 3)sins they are he was:
1) בא על נערה מאורסה
2) Killed Nimrod
3)He was כפר בתחיית המתים
4) He was כפר בעיקר
5) He sold the בכורות.
They are all easy to understand besides for בא על נערה מאורסה being that before receiving the Torah there was no חופה or קידושין and by non Jews there still is no such thing?
HOW WAS HE בא על נערה מאורסה?
5) Now we get to the ברכה itself the wording seems very strange, first why מטל השמים and not גשם? Why דגן ותירש and not יצהר?
Now we can get to the Pesach Questions.
1) What is the significance of the egg on the קערה?
2) What is the source and significance of stealing the אפיקומן?
Now the one word answer and the connection that will Blow you away it is Pesach. The whole story of the stolen ברכות happened on Erev Pesach and Pesach night. Now we will address the questions one by one and see the two concepts collide.
Here the Pesach Yesod begins, that is one for Korban Pesach and one for Korban Chagigah.
Our Pesach Yesod continues it was the 4 cups of wine he was drinking so the Angel had to bring it.
HOW WAS HE בא על נערה מאורסה?
Here our Pesach Yesod Gets into the Details. These 2 have to be combined as it is a question and its answer. Let me explain the way he was בא על נערה מאורסה was by eating the “Bread” otherwise known to us as מצה on Erev Pesach as it says in the Gemara Yerushalmi in Pesachim and brought in Tosfos in Bavli. That האוכל מצה בערב הפסח כבא על ארוסתו בבית חמיווהבא. That is because of course that at the Seder we make Sheva Brochos before eating the מצות .So the Torah tells us about it because it was the way we know Eisav did the five sins when Yackov gave him the beans and then Matzoh for later, he went and ate the Matzo first hence making him a בא על נערה מאורסה.
The Ramban in His Sefer אמונה ובטחון answers with our Pesach Yesod. He says on Pesach we are judged on טל and not on גשם and therefore the ברכה is for טל, we are also judged on תבואה therefore he said דגן and finally תירש because in the future the Jews will drink the 4 Cups.
And now we follow through with our Yesod and Go the other direction by illustrating how things we do at the Seder actually represent this connection. Let’s go to the Pesach Questions.
What is the significance of the egg on the קערה?
Now this one is easy it is Avraham’s Yahrtzeit the egg represents the Avielus for Avraham.
Now, we have the second question.
What is the source and significance of stealing the אפיקומן?
It comes from Yackov stealing the ברכות from Eisav. It has a whole other level we tell the חכםa Halacha that אין מפטירין אחר הפסח אפיקומן why this Halacha? The answer illustrates the connection between Birchas Yitzchak and Pesach once more it was this Halacha that Yackov used when stealing the ברכות when Yackov brought the Meat from Korban Pesach Yitzchak was no longer able to eat because אין מפטירין אחר הפסח. We know that Yitzchak told Eisav “Go Prepare me food so I can eat and Bench You” .This means now that Yitzchak cant eat Eisav’s food he cant give him a ברכה..Then too throw in one last connection from Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld When Eisav came in and asked for his ברכה his father told him בא אחיך במרמה ויקח את ברכתך and if you calculate the Gematriah of במרמה it is exactly אפיקומן. וד"ק
(Sources are: יד יוסף,שנים מקרא,כמוצי שלל רב)
Looking froward to your Critique
( ;

Michael said...

If its right by the Rambam, its right by me.

But, I am going to say it, bli neder, with the same enthusiasm as when I bless over lightning.

Hag kasher vesameah!

Anonymous said...

*friends of mine are making got a PERMIT & are having a gathering @ 7:00 (sharp) in CENTRAL Park NYC E 72nd minyan / Siyum (for ALL First Borns) music by PAY DALID & refreshments :
MEN Women & Children invited


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