Religion & Beliefs

Birchat Hachamah is Way Overrated

Birchat Hachama, for those who don’t know, is the pagan-turned-Jewish tradition of blessing the sun, and its being made a big deal of mostly because of the rapidly expanding holes in the ozone layer which have many environmental groups mad … Read More

By / April 7, 2009

Birchat Hachama, for those who don’t know, is the pagan-turned-Jewish tradition of blessing the sun, and its being made a big deal of mostly because of the rapidly expanding holes in the ozone layer which have many environmental groups mad at the Jews for blessing the sun which is bound to fry us like eggs on asphalt if we don’t stop taking the sun for granted and start using it to power our crock pots and minivans.

The first time I heard of Birchat Hachama was last year when my old man mentioned something about how he remembers the last time they did it. He made it sound like this grand and glorious event, where people gathered around for a daytime kiddush levana (blessing of the mood) type of event and stared up at the sun and said some ridiculously long prayer in unison as everyone wished shalom aleichem to each other.

I figured Birchat Hachama was once every 28 years so its probably not even in the siddur, purposefully done by Artscroll in its attempt to monopolize the Orthodox siddur market so they could sell something like a Birchat Hachama bencher or guidebook as to what exactly the prayers were and the laws surrounding them. I figured there would also be T-shirts that said "I survived Birchat Hachama and all I got was this T-shirt." 

But then I discovered today that the blessing we make for the blessing of the sun is merely the same blessing which is said countless times a week by anyone who appreciates God’s awesomeness and knows the blessing to be said. You see folks, it’s not some crazy blessing that requires you to say some really hard-to-read paragraph with really long Aramaic words 7 times before you get to the blessing: Birchat Hachama is merely a very short blessing ending in "Ose Maasa Bereshis," which leads me to wonder how they can make such a short prayer into such a big event. I have been thinking that if there was lightning at the point of Birchat Hachama you may be screwed, since it is the same blessing and it just wouldn’t be that special. I guess I just wish it had its own unique blessing rather then one used all the time for beautiful sights. Wait a second, what if the sun doesn’t come out that day? Do we say the blessing for Birchat Hachamah anyway?

I was told today that the last time Birchat Hachama was said on the eve of Pesach was when we left Egypt with Charlton Heston. It didn’t seem like so long ago, but seriously that’s pretty cool and this year’s Birchat Hachama is the last time it will occur until 2037, which, if any of the futuristic films of Hollywood predicted right we should all be dead, frozen or unable to have children – so get your kicks in now. I hear the after parties are going to be hopping!