Shemesh: The Servant of God who Feeds us All

This week, Reb Zalman and Rabbi Debra Orenstein conducted a WebCast about Passover and ways to deepen Seder.  During the event, a listener asked Reb Zalman about the Birkat Hachamah / Blessing on the Sun, which occurs this year on erev Pesach, 14th of Nissan in the morning.  Here’s Reb Zalman’s response.  (Intro by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor)

“Oh how wonderful. 

“The last time this happened was 1981 and, we went up to the Empire State Building in New York City to watch the sunrise.  

“We had a service there and, we read the Torah right at the parapet on top of the building. 

“Then we released seventy balloons as a kind of sacrifice for the seventy nations of the Earth. 

“That was a time when we made a great deal of fuss about solar energy. 

“It is a ‘Saturn Return’ for the sun

[NOTE:  The ‘Saturn Return’ is an astrological phenomenon that roughly corresponds to the frequency of this blessing.  A year for Saturn is about 29 1/2 earth years.  The term is used to identify major stages in a person’s life, i.e. 0 to 28, 29 to 56, 57 to 84 and beyond.  As Saturn returns to the position it occupied at the time of each person’s birth, approximately every 29.5 years, a person crosses over a major threshold and into the next stage of life.  With the first ‘Saturn Return,’ a person leaves youth behind and enters adulthood; with the second return, maturity; and the third and sometimes final Return, a person enters old age.  Gabbai Seth]

“and it happens to be that every twenty-eight years, the sun is in the same place, (as the Rabbis have figured it), where it was at the time of creation. 

“And so, while the moon is going through cycles much more quickly, when it comes to this point where the sun is back to where it started, we want to be able to say the blessing of the sun.

“This year we are planning to go up on a mountainside of the Rockies here in Colorado, we will look out on the prairies from where we are, we will watch the sun rise and, we will recite the blessing. 

“It’s very difficult to do that on the day before Pesach.  When this happened before, it didn’t come at a time when we would be so rushed.  This year, it will be the third time since the creation of the world, (as the Rabbis said), that it came out on erev Pesach

“It’s a wonderful moment to really dedicate oneself to focusing on the recognition that all the food and everything else we get on this planet, giving us life, is derived from the sun. 

“And so we  thank God for giving us the shammos, because the word sun, shemesh, derives from that, i.e., the one who is the servant of God who feeds us all.”

Rabbi Debra:  “How beautiful Reb Zalman”

One Response to “Shemesh: The Servant of God who Feeds us All”

  1. Rachel Barenblat Says:

    What a beautiful teaching. Thank you!

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