Every 28 years the sun returns to the same position, at the same time of the week, that it occupied at the time of its creation—at the beginning of the fourth day of creation.
A special blessing – called Birkat Hachamah, "the sun blessing" – is recited to mark this event. Due to the rarity of this event, this blessing is customarily recited amid large public gatherings of men, women and children.
This year, 5769, we will perform this special mitzvah on the morning of April 8 (the morning before Passover).The blessing is traditionally preceded and followed by a short selection of Psalms and prayers. The existence of nearly all life on Earth is fueled by light from the sun. Every morning without fail, the sun rises in the east and bathes us with its sustaining rays, causing flora to grow and, through the process of photosynthesis, providing oxygen for all fauna.
Some may call this phenomenon nature.
The Blessing and the Accompanying Service: How, When and Where?
The blessing on the sun should be recited on Wednesday morning, April 8, 2009, after sunrise and before a quarter of the day has elapsed—the earlier the better. If one missed this time, the blessing can be recited until midday.
Click here to find out these exact times for any location.
Ideally, the blessing should be recited outdoors after the morning prayers, amidst a grand gathering of men, women and children—as befits the excitement accompanying the fulfillment of such a rare mitzvah.
Make sure to bring along the kids and have them say the blessing. It's a memory for a lifetime!
If possible, try to wear a new garment while reciting the blessing.1
The actual prayer service consists of:
The blessing: "Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who reenacts the works of creation."
The Shehecheyanu blessing.
A brief section from the Talmud (Brachot 59b), the source of the obligation to recite the blessing on the sun.
The Aleinu prayer.
Mourners Kaddish (if there is a minyan present).
Click for the entire text of the Blessing of the Sun in English or Hebrew.
Before reciting the actual blessing on the sun, stand at attention with feet together and look at the sun.2 Do not, however, look at the sun while reciting the blessing.
At the conclusion of the service it is customary for everyone to donate money to charity.3