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