Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Interesting Birkat Hahama Things


  • Ribbi Yehuda's opinion in the Tosefta Berachot 6:10. The Tosefta states:

    את החמה ואת הלבנה ואת הכוכבים ואת המזלות כסדרן אומר ברוך עושה בראשית ר' יהודה אומר המברך על החמה זו דרך אחרת וכן היה ר' יהודה אומר הרואה את הים תדיר ונשתנה בו דבר צריך לברך

    Over the sun, the moon, the stars, and the constallations in order, one says "ברוך עושה בראשית". Ribbi Yehuda says: one who blesses over the sun, this is the other way (i.e. idol worship)...

    At first glance, it seems that Ribbi Yehuda argues on the Tanna Kamma, and disallows any Birkat Hahama due to idol worship. In fact, I saw a Sefer that wants to use R' Yehuda's opinion as a reason why certain communities (like the "ארצות ישמעאל" mentioned in שכנה"ג, which is quoted in the שע"ת, and also mentioned in Me'am Lo'ez) don't do Birkat Hahama at all.

    However, the מנחת ביכורים explains that R' Yehuda only means that one should not say it every day, but one can certainly say it once every 28 years. I was bothered, though - does this mean the Tanna Kamma would hold that you CAN say it every day? The Gr"a seems to answer this question by saying the same as the מנחת ביכורים and adding that R' Yehuda is not arguing on the Tanna Kamma, but rather, is explaining what he means (as R' Yehuda often does in Sha"s).

  • UPDATE: As Gilui points out in the comments, there is strong evidence that the Ma'amar Haza"l that this is based on should not be taken literally, but rather in a figurative sense. Therefore, the premise of this being a natural phenomenon may be flawed. However, the idea is interesting nonetheless.
    We often see it quoted that the day we recite Birkat Hahama does not correspond to any natural phenomenon besides a regular vernal equinox - i.e., there's no 28-year phenomenon, but rather, it's a tradition that the sun was created at this moment of the week 28 x N years ago. However, גילוי alerts us to a statement by the פרקי דרבי אליעזר who says that there is something different that happens once every 28 years. You can see the original Hebrew here - (see the 8th page of the pdf, which corresponds to the printed page 10). To quote גילוי:
    And there is one window in the middle of the Firmament and its name is Mezarim, and it (the sun) doesn't go out and enter in it aside from one time in the great cycle, that during it, it goes out on the day that it was created and in the night in the West


At Tue Mar 24, 03:21:00 AM 2009, Blogger גילוי said...

It should be of course noted that the windows are not a physical concept either, but rather a kabbalistic concept.

At Tue Mar 24, 04:22:00 AM 2009, Blogger yaak said...

It doesn't seem that way from the Pirkei DRibbi Eliezer, the Yerushalmi R"H 2:4, or from Shemot Rabba 15:22. Although, it could be - I don't know.

At Tue Mar 24, 05:21:00 AM 2009, Blogger גילוי said...

See Pitchei Shearim of Rav Yitzchak Isaad Chaver who addresses specifically the 1st brachah of kriat shma at night, saying it is not referring to the physical world at all. If you have the sefer, I'll endeavor to look up the exact reference.

And if anything, I've proven that some of the math regarding the machzorim is completely made up, so why would you assume that the writers of the midrashim took it to be literal?

At Wed Apr 01, 12:35:00 PM 2009, Anonymous josh waxman said...

Check out my latest roundup.

I do not think it compelling that because the math/science does not work, it is really a deep kabbalistic intent in play. This "faulty" math/science was in play throughout the ancient world, so you would have to attribute the same deep kabbalistic intent to the Romans as well.



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