It's the big day--the day when the sun returns to the exact location of its creation, and the once-every-28-year opportunity to note the occasion with the "birkat ha chamma" blessing that celebrates God's "works of creation."
This always occurs on a Wednesday, April 8, but seldom on the eve of Passover as today. I stayed up absurdly late packing not only myself but my fatigued son, tuckered out by all that watching me write/edit his term paper yesterday and through the night before.
But the birkat ha chamma is so rare, and so momentous, that we dragged ourselves from our slumber to join our synagogue members early this morning. The first thing I noticed upon casting my eyes outside was--dum, dum, DUM--the dreaded "curtain of gray." Without the ability to actually see the sun--even its outline through clouds will do--you can't recite the blessing. And after three glorious, sunny, clear and warm days, we'd dived right back into the gloomy Northwestern norm, in which colors are muted, and the sky and Lake Washington match in an oozy sheet of the non-color best called neither-here-nor-there.
With minimal hopes, we climbed into the car and slipped into the crowded synagogue in time to catch the conclusion of our Rabbi's exposition of a Talmud tractate and the raft of blessings marking a "siyum," a meal celebrating completion of a portion of Torah, especially important today for the many "first-born" guys who otherwise would have to fast until the seder tonight. My own spouse, also a first-born male, will be one of those with heightened anticipation of that first cup of wine and desert-dry matzah, as he had to fly early and had no siyum that would have allowed him to eat for the rest of the day.
We who seek the sun--who are Searching for Bright Light--do have a ray of hope that we can still say the birkat ha chamma today. One is allowed to do so until 1:10 pm, and also to view the sun, and say the blessing, through a window. Before that time, we'll be rising above the clouds, as we wing our way to our Passover destination, and I anticipate the joyous recitation of the rare and marvelous blessing.
If only we had window seats.
Unfortunately, no seats were assigned for our flight until day-of-departure, and my children and I are all seated separately and distantly. Only one of us has a window seat. So I'm planning to visit the flight attendants at the back of the plane and peer out their window, just long enough to claim a moment of that brightest light, a sight I hope will illuminate the next 28 years.
Again...Happy Passover, Happy Easter--and Happy Sunshine! (that's the slogan on my cell phone. Photo above is dawn on Jerusalem.)