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Blessing the Sun

During the upcoming week, on Wednesday, the 14th of Nissan, April 8, Erev Pesach, we will witness an event that occurs only once in 28 years. When the sun rises on Wednesday morning, on the spring equinox, it will be in the exact position it was in at the time the world was created.

The sun, moon, stars and other heavenly bodies were placed into position on the fourth day of creation. The sun takes 365 and a quarter days to complete an orbit around the earth. This means that each year, the cycle moves up by a quarter day. After 28 years, the cycle completes itself, and the sun again rises in the same time and the same day of the week as when the world was originally created.

On this day, it is customary to gather outdoors at sunrise and recite the blessing, “Blessed are You, O L-rd, Master of the universe, Who has made the works of creation.”

The blessing is always recited on a Wednesday, the day the heavenly bodies were set in their places. According to the Midrash, when the sun and moon were created, they were originally equal in size. However, the moon complained: “Two kings cannot share a crown!” Subsequently, the moon was diminished. The moon corresponds to the Jewish people, who wax and wane during different stages in history. Our calendar is calculated according to the moon; indeed, we bless the moon once a month, rather than once in 28 years.

According to the Mishnah (Ketuvot 1), Wednesday is also the day on which “a virgin is wed.” What is the connection between Wednesdays and marriage? The Rebbe explains that the wedding of a virgin is an allusion to the marriage of G-d and the Jewish people. Currently, we are betrothed to G-d but have yet to consummate the marriage. Our descent into exile is preventing the unity from taking place. On Wednesday, the moon was diminished, which is also an allusion to the descent of the soul to earth, and the descent of the Jewish people into exile. Ultimately, though, the sun and moon will be reunited in a cosmic “marriage,” and the moon will no longer be diminished.

Likewise, despite the descent into exile, the Jewish people are still considered G-d’s bride. In fact, we know that the whole purpose of the ascent is for the sake of the elevation that will follow. On Wednesday, the same day that the moon was diminished, the bride will be wed—we will be reunited with G-d once again in an everlasting bond.

This unity is especially emphasized during Birchat Hachamah, when we bless the sun. On this day, we recite the blessing Oseh Maaseh Bereishit, Who makes the works of creation, and acknowledge that the whole glory and power of creation belongs to G-d alone. This acknowledgment hastens the time when the concealment of G-dliness will be removed, and we will finally experience, in a revealed form, the marriage of G-d and the Jewish people.

(Based on an address of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, 4 Nisan, 5741)


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