Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Birkat Hachamah - The Once In 28 Years Mitvah

Birkat Hachamah literally means "the Blessing on the Sun." Its text: "Blessed are You, LORD our GOD, King of the universe, who reenacts the works of creation."

This blessing is recited once every 28 years, when the sun reaches the point where it was at the time of its creation—at the same time of day and on the same day of the week & will be recited on Wednesday morning, April 8, 2009, after sunrise and before a quarter of the day has elapsed. If one missed this time, the blessing can be recited until midday.

Technically, you can say this blessing anywhere the sun is visible (preferably while standing outdoors.) Ideally, you would want to join in celebration of this special mitzvah amongst fellow Jews!

The actual prayer service consists of:
  • Psalm 148:1-6.
  • The blessing: "Blessed are You, LORD our GOD, King of the universe, who reenacts the works of creation."
  • The Shehecheyanu blessing.
  • Psalm 19.
  • Psalm 121.
  • Psalm 150.
  • A brief section from the Talmud (Brachot 59b), the source of the obligation to recite the blessing on the sun.
  • Psalm 67.
  • The Aleinu prayer.
  • Mourners Kaddish (if there is a minyan present).

Click for the entire text of the Blessing of the Sun in English or Hebrew.

Before reciting the actual blessing on the sun, stand at attention with feet together and look at the sun. Do not, however, look at the sun while reciting the blessing.

At the conclusion of the service it is customary for everyone to donate money to charity.

If you would like to share in the Birkat Hachamah ceremonies from this morning, click on the following links: (keep your eye out for the newer links to ceremonies from England,The Western Wall & Hawaii - the archive links will be posted soon.)

*Information gathered from Chabad Lubavitch

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