Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Ribbi Yehoshua is LeShitato

This article makes the case of how the fact that we follow Ribbi Yehoshua regarding saying Birkat Hahama in Nissan shows how we do not need Teshuva to be redeemed in the Final Redemption.

May all the blog readers have a joyous and meaningful Pesah, and may we soon be able to eat מן הזבחים ומן הפסחים in Yerushalayim בב"א.


At Tue Apr 07, 11:58:00 PM 2009, Blogger רפאל said...

I amazed at this seemingly ubiguitous idea that we know that we say the Bracha on the wrong date because the year is not really 365.25 days, but we do it anyway. To all who think so, please try answer the following question: When would be the date of the Bracha if the year's length were taken to be the 365.24219 days (the article has a very unfortunate typo when citing this number), the current scientifically correct number? In which years would we say it?

At Wed Apr 08, 06:34:00 AM 2009, Anonymous Shiloh said...

Here's a Rav who answers the question since only a Rav has the authority to do so.
Written by Rav Bar-Hayim
Tuesday, 07 April 2009 08:02

Rabbi, I have heard different opinions regarding Birkath HaHamma (said once in 28 years), including some who say one should not say this B'rakha. What is your view?


This is a very complex issue, and it is quite impossible to explain the matter in this forum. Therefore I shall limit myself to the following:

1. The text before us in the Talmudh Bavli (B'rakhoth 59b) is corrupt. The statement attributed to Abbaye - the supposed source of this B'rakha - was never said by him, and was interpolated into the text at the beginning of the period of the Rishonim. None of the G'onim knew of Abbaye's statement. Some, such as Rav Sa'adya Gaon (p. 90), contradict it. It follows that the notion of saying a B'rakha once in 28 years (and on something one cannot see) was never mandated by the Sages. This entire issue is based on an error in the text.

2. The statement is almost certainly based on a sectarian solar calendar, such as that mentioned in the Book of Jubilees. Thus the entire concept contradicts Hazal who worked with a lunar calendar.

3. Even if Hazal had mandated such a B'rakha once every 28 years, the calculation used today, based on the T'qupha of Sh'muel which assumes a year of 365.25 days, is inaccurate. The real figure is 365.24219 days. Over 2000 years, the discrepancy adds up -today it amounts to over two weeks. If anything, the B'rakha should have been said on the day of the vernal or March equinox (March 20), the astronomical event supposedly referred to by Abbaye. On Nissan 14th this year no astronomical event will take place, and saying the B'rakha then cannot be justified.

4. This B'rakha is mentioned in the Talmudh Y'rushalmi (B'rakhoth 9:2) and in WaYiqra Rabba (23:8). According to these sources (which also know nothing of a 28-year cycle) the B'rakha should be said whenever one sees the sun and is moved by its power and majesty, something which happens occasionally. When one internalizes the fact that this is a manifestation of HASHEM's wisdom and power, one makes the B'rakha. Further one should say it if the sun was not visible for three days (such as consecutive stormy or cloudy days). This is what I recommend doing. According to Rav Sa'adya Gaon one recites the B'rakha annually on the summer or June soltice (June 20-21). This too is possible.

5. Unfortunately we have here another example of the rabbinic establishment burying its head in the sand, unwilling to tackle real issues of science and knowledge. This does the Jewish people a great disservice, and paints the Tora in a very negative light.

6. The Tora world must formulate an intelligent and viable conception of Tora in keeping with objective knowledge and realities. We cannot and must not live in the Dark Ages; this was not HASHEM's intention.

Hagh Sameah

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim

As usual, we continue our empty practice which equates to spilling the seed. Wake up people!!

At Wed Apr 08, 08:19:00 AM 2009, Blogger joshwaxman said...

If so, perhaps every year; perhaps at the 28 year fake cycle, but adjusted every century to accord with the actual vernal equinox.

Here is my response to Rav Bar-Haim's answer.

Basically, I agree some of the way with point 3, but disagree on every other point.

So how did it go? Was it too cloudy, or were you able to say the bracha?

Chag Sameach,

At Wed Apr 08, 10:04:00 AM 2009, Blogger רפאל said...

If so, perhaps every year; perhaps at the 28 year fake cycle, but adjusted every century to accord with the actual vernal equinox.

If every year, why does going according to Shmuel's year stop us from saying it every year.

If every 28 years, but corrected, you probably propose to say it when the real equinox occurs in the first quarter of wednesday, between sunset and midnight. But why divide the day into four? You see where this is going.

Yishar Koach for your answers to Rav Bar Chaim.

Chag Sameach

At Wed Apr 08, 10:22:00 AM 2009, Blogger yaak said...

B"H, it was picture perfect. Not a cloud in the sky.
Not only that, but last night was the first clear night for Birkat Halevana, so we did both on י"ד ניסן.

At Wed Apr 08, 03:46:00 PM 2009, Anonymous josh waxman said...

Thanks. In terms of "if every year," this would be a rejection of Abaye's reinterpretation of Tekufata as the Machzor Gadol vernal equinox because it was based on Shmuel's estimation, and a return to the plain meaning of the brayta, as e.g. it remains uninterpreted in the brayta. If so, we are paying attention to the actual tekufah, the "turning point," which is the vernal equinox in Rav Ada's calculation.

If every 28 years, then it is an acknowledgment of Abaye's reinterpretation of tekufa in the brayta as the start of Machzor Gadol, while still claiming that Shmuel's calendar was inaccurate but that he knew it was inaccurate. This would be a claim that such a count was "good enough," and the several hours, or the day, of the vernal equinox is a good enough estimate, and that is why Abaye used it. But that Abaye naturally assumed that Sages in later generations would take steps to move Shmuel's calendar at such a point where it became too inaccurate -- say, every 128 or so years when it moved a day. If so, we would be following the definition of Tekufa as Machzor Gadol, but making sure the Machzor Gadol more or less still accords to the astronomical phenomena it was attempting to approximate in the first place. This because if we do not see the chama, then it is not haroeh chama betkufata, just as if it were an entirely cloudy day.

There is of course what to argue, but it is not so out-there.

Another alternative would be to do it never, which was the practice in the lands of Yishmael, as well as apparently the practice of others (though this others and what they precisely held is hairy.)

glad to hear it. for us, it was cloudy such that I know of a few people who got up early and were not able to say it with the minyan, but said it later by themselves. where and when I went for Shacharit, it was visible.

Chag Kasher veSameach,

At Thu Apr 09, 11:22:00 PM 2009, Blogger רפאל said...


Rav Shmuel with a correction every 128 years on average, that would be extremely close to the secular calendar. I think you are saying that we could say Birkat HaChammah on March 21. Presumably only when it falls on a Wednesday, to acknowledge Abaye. Remains to ask: Every such Wednesday, or only every other four?

At Sun Apr 12, 09:34:00 AM 2009, Anonymous josh waxman said...

There are many different ways one *could* say. And it depends what it means to acknowledge Abaye. For example, acknowledging Abaye *might* not mean specifically on a Wednesday, but rather on the 28 year mark regardless of the day of the week. I wrote several postings on this, and here is one such:


that Abaye's goal was not to limit it to a Wednesday, but rather to redefine tekufah (turning point) to the beginning of the Machzor Hagadol, as an attempt to limit it in accordance with Rabbi Yehudah.

One could say X, or say Y, or say Z. Since I am not paskening lehalacha here, I am not going to take a definitive stance -- nor am I so certain it is possible to take one with certainty.



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