For the week ending 4 April 2009 / 9 Nisan 5769

Happy Sun-day!

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
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It now looks likely that Rav Shalom Yosef Eliashiv, shlit'a, the posek hador (Halachic arbiter of the generation) will lead the recitation of the Birkat HaChama — the Blessing of the Sun — at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, soon after dawn on Erev Pesach 2009.

Rav Eliashiv is somewhere in his high nineties and, G-d willing, will have said this blessing four times in his life. Not many of us will be so blessed, for of all the observances that are available to a Jew, Birkat HaChama has the greatest interval, being said only once in every 28 years when the sun returns to exactly the same place relative to the earth as at its creation.

Apart from the astronomical aspects of Birkat HaChama, this large interval of time should give us pause. Many of us were not here when last it was said, and many will not be here at its next recital.

The anniversary of Creation always evokes G-d's attribute of strict justice. Rosh Hashana, the day of man's creation is also the Day of Judgment for both man and the whole world, "Who will live, who will die..." But what is the connection between Creation and judgment? Ostensibly they are totally separate subjects.

The Midrash expounds that when G-d 'considered' creating man He 'consulted' with His Heavenly Court and the following 'debate' ensued: Kindness said "Create him, for he will do many kindnesses!" Truth said, "Don't create him, for he is full of lies!" In the midst of this cosmic debate G-d said, "Na'asah Adam... man has (already) been created." In other words, man was created amidst existential doubt of whether he should or should not exist. That doubt resurfaces every year on the anniversary of his creation as each of us stands again before that Heavenly Court and is judged as to what extent we have justified our creation, a creation that began in doubt.

Few things focus our minds on our very transitory stay in this world like an event that happens to us only every 28 years. When we thank the Creator for creating the Sun, the Moon and the Stars, our thoughts turn to whether our lives have justified the vast expanse of the universe and its myriad luminaries.

Happy Sun-day!

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