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Submitted by on Jan 19, 2020
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This year we are fortunate to be able to fulfill a unique Mitzvah. While there are those who put tremendous efforts into fulfilling their favourite Mitzvot such as Shabbat, Kashrut, Mezuzot, Tefillin and Tzizit etc. – rare is the person who runs around in absolute excitement each day as he thinks of his opportunity to make a blessing over the sun!

What’s the excitement really all about?!

We are taught in Brachot 59b that one who sees the sun at its turning point should say a blessing “Blessed is He who makes the works of creation.” The Gemara asks, “When is this?” Abaye answers, “Every 28 years.”

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Once in 28 years most Jews are privileged to make a blessing over the sun. Some Jews may merit to say this blessing over the sun twice in their lives. The privileged few – may even merit to say it three times in their lives!

The sun returns to its original point that it was at, at the time of creation. How does this work? Although G-d created light and darkness on the first day of creation, it was actually on the fourth day of creation that G-d placed the luminaries into the sky. The original light created on that first day – was not really the sun. It was a light stored away for the Tzaddikim, a powerful light that only those who are truly righteous are able to use. Such a light would have been a danger for those not worthy of it, and so G-d hid this light away. The sun, however, was placed as the main luminary to give light to the world – on the fourth day of the week – Wednesday.

Because there are 365 and one quarter days in a year, this means that every 4 years, an additional day is added in order to make up for the four quarters, giving us an extra day every 4 years. As a result of this, the sun shifts it’s position one day ahead from where it began it’s original journey at the time of creation. It was created on a Wednesday. Every 4 years, it moves ahead one day, and finds itself therefore on a Thursday – 4 years later! Because there are seven days in the week, we require 7 multiplied by 4 (ie. 28) years to allow for the sun to return back to its exact original position that it was in creation. It will then find itself once again at its position on a Wednesday. Therefore every 28 years we make a blessing over the sun as it returns back to its original position. The blessing will always be said on a Wednesday, because this is the day when the sun was placed in its position in the sky.

Because of the uniqueness of this Mitzvah, people will gather together to say this blessing, praising G-d for His beautiful works of creation – together. Perhaps this is truly one of those totally unique occasions when we will look around us and see just how united the Jewish people are.

So much for the formalities. Let’s think upon some of the lessons we can learn from the sun, ideas that will help us realise just what the sun is, what makes it special, and how we can meditate already on some of its deeper significance in our lives. When we make that blessing this year, let us take a deep breath and consider what we can learn from this globe of fire. After all, the sun also shares some of the characteristics of people. She too burns herself out at the best of times.

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