Jews observed Birkat Hachama, the Sun Blessing, as the sun returned to where “it was, Jewish tradition says, when God created the world thousands of years ago,” BBC News reports. The event occurs only once every 28 years, and is rooted in Talmudic tradition—with an implicit understanding of a recent, literal creation.
“Blessed are you, Lord our God, king of the universe, who makes the works of creation.”
Genesis lists the sun’s creation on Day 4 of Creation Week, which corresponds to Wednesday, when the observance was celebrated. Only every 28 years does the vernal equinox—as calculated according to Jewish tradition—occur on a Wednesday, the situation Jews believe occurred during Creation Week.
During the celebration, attendees recited, “Blessed are you, Lord our God, king of the universe, who makes the works of creation.”
BBC News notes possible errors in the calculation of the ancient Jewish calendar, noting that Jews and other Middle Easterners two millennia ago believed the year was 365 days, 6 hours long—approximately twelve minutes longer than what is currently accepted. “This small discrepancy adds up when multiplied by thousands of years,” the report notes, with the actual first day of spring coming on March 20.
“It’s a very nice tradition but 2,000 years ago, it was a tradition based on scientific values, and today they need to re-evaluate,” commented Hebrew University astronomer Ariel Cohen. The BBC notes that rabbis “acknowledge this inaccuracy but stress that the mathematical calculations are less significant than the meaning behind [the] tradition.” According to one rabbi, the most important element is being thankful for the creation of the sun, which we often take for granted.
The Bible does not record any specifics about whether Creation Week started a new season, though Christians and specifically young-earth creationists can also appreciate the opportunity to consider the awesomeness of God’s creation and express our thanks for the sun, without which we could not survive.
Tragically, the article adds that because this year’s Birkat Hachama came on the eve of Passover, “[s]ome rabbis even view it as a sign heralding the coming redemption and arrival of the Messiah.” Our prayer is that they realize the Messiah—who will indeed come again someday—has already come!
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