Oct 23 2008

Blessing the Sun in Judaism

Category: Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy,Judaismalobel @ 5:08 pm

I’ve just come across this site, which describes the Jewish ritual of blessing the sun every 28 years — at which point, it is traditionally believed, the sun occupies the same point at which it was present at its own creation in Genesis 1:14-15. The next date for this blessing, called Birkat Ha-Hammah, will be April 8, 2009.

There are some fascinating rabbinic and other resources located on the site I’ve embedded above. One of the main textual sources for the blessing tradition is to be found in the Babylonian Talmud, tractate Berakhot 59b, which refers to blessing the sun when it returns to “its turning point”. Another source is found in one of the primary Jewish legal codes, the Shulkhan Arukh, Orach Chayim 229:2.

This ritual, which last took place in 1981, prior to the internet age, will almost certainly be well-publicized, serving as a reminder that astronomy is alive and well in contemporary religious life. That it happens to coincide with the International Year of Astronomy is sweeter yet.

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