Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Nissan 5760 - May 3, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Rare were the occasions, some twenty years ago, when tens of thousands of Jews converged together. Funerals of gedolim were one kind. Aliya l'regel to the Kosel on Shavuos morning was another. Today, bircas kohanim at the Kosel is yet another. A reader from Kiryat Sefer reminisces about a third, very special, event.

Sun Day
by M. Basner

Rosh Chodesh Nissan, nineteen years ago. It was the long- awaited day of Bircas Hachama, when the sun occupies nearly the exact same position in the heavens as it did at the time of Creation. This reoccurs only once in 28 years, and is cause for the blessing, "Oseh maaseh breishis," which is recited upon seeing the sun fully risen. Here are my recollections of that very special time. Hopefully, my memory has not gotten too cloudy over the years.

My friends and I got up that morning especially early, while it was still dark. The blessing is preferably said at sunrise amongst a crowd of people. The King's glory is in a multitude. In Jerusalem, many people chose to be at the Kosel in time for this blessing. Egged was prepared for this, and numerous buses were ready when we got to the bus stop. We got on at the first stop in Bayit V'gan and as soon as the bus filled to capacity, very quickly, it traveled directly to the Kosel, since at four a.m., that was where everyone was headed.

When we arrived, the plaza in front of the Kosel was already filling up. We opened our siddurim and began to pray. There was a high-volume loudspeaker for the chazon so that everyone could follow along. After I finished shmone esrai, I looked behind me to see the throngs. The entire plaza was packed and far behind us, the balconies and tops of buildings all around were also filled.

What especially caught my attention on this gray morning before sunrise was a very giant cloud mass extending across the entire sky from side to side, coming up from behind, coming closer and covering up the heavens as it approached. How terribly disappointing if it arrived before the sun rose, since then we would not be able to see the sun and recite the special blessing. A young girl, I had never said it yet, and I would have to wait another twenty-eight years for the next occasion!

The chazon began the chazoras hasha'tz, his voice booming over the loudspeaker. As he progressed, I anxiously kept turning to watch the sky behind me. That gray cloud mass was being pushed by the wind and was coming closer. Modim. We were almost there. What excitement!

The prayers were timed so that the sun would rise from behind the Kosel, in the east, shortly after the repeat- shmone esrai. We would hail its appearance in a blaze of glory and recite the blessing in unison, feeling most privileged to be part of this special event in time and place. We could almost imagine ourselves two millenia back in history, or hopefully, fast-forward to Moshiach, making an aliya l'regel to the Beis Hamikdosh with our own korbon Pesach!

At the very precise moment that we should have seen the sun rise, that giant mass of cloud finished its sweep across the last patch of sky directly over the Kosel. The sun was hidden behind it and we waited, breaths bated.

We all waited. Such a cloud mass! It seemed to be made of stone, thick and impervious. Nothing in it moved or swirled at all! It seemed to be one solid, cohesive unit covering the ENTIRE sky. Who knew for how long we would have to wait before it dispersed? Would we ever get to see the sun at all on this day?

The loudspeaker crackled to life, commanding that everyone move backwards, away from the Kosel, as far as they could. Perhaps a vantage spot on higher ground would enable us to see the sun if it should shine out for a moment. And so, although I had previously thought that we were too crowded to budge at all, everyone shuffled together even more closely, and slowly, as a single body, we managed to shift further back. Was this way it had been at the Beis Hamikdosh? With room to spare for bowing and prostration?

We waited.

Then they announced, from what I understood in my then imperfect Hebrew, that since we had gathered here to give honor to the King of kings by witnessing the sun, His servant, on this `birth-day', and that we were being prevented from doing so, we should all begin to recite Tehillim. We should beg Hashem to have mercy on us and allow us this great privilege to praise Him in this special, once- in-twenty-eight-year mitzva.

We began to recite Tehillim, intently, verse by verse. After just a few chapters, I remembered to look up, and noticed something happening. The cloud was not as dense and I could already discern shades and movements inside it! We excitedly continued our Tehillim. Soon afterwards, the cloud completely broke apart, exactly where the sun was hiding, and the blessing was said with tremendous excitement, enthusiasm and celebration. How happy we were to be part of this! Afterwards, we heard that they estimated that some one hundred thousand Jews had been present that morning at the Kosel.

Some people danced home, others walked, their spirits dancing on air.

I could not help feeling that we had witnessed the great power of united prayer, tefilla b'rabbim. I felt that Hashem saw fit to orchestrate the clouds in order to show us how very precious our prayers are to Him.

Hadn't something similar occured in Egypt? "Bnei Yisroel sighed from the bondage and they cried, and their cry went up to Hashem from the bondage. And Hashem heard their groaning and He remembered His covenant." Immediately after these psukim, we see Hashem revealing Himself in the Burning Bush, and the beginning of the redemption commences!

Remembering this event and conjuring up the feelings that accompanied it, helps inspire me to pray with greater feelings of devotion and closeness to Hashem, to this very day.

We are still in the month of Nissan, the month of redemption. Still time to break through those clouds...


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