The next cycle of your life
April 8 is almost here. The 206th celebration of Birkat Hahammah will soon be upon us. On the one hand, it is a rare and modest celebration. We mark this moment of welcoming the sun and praising God for its creation once every 28 years in the early morning hours with a one-line blessing: "Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who continually works the work of creation." On the other hand, this is a moment of grand celestial reset in an age crying out for radical, cultural Reset. Perhaps that is why it is likely to be celebrated more this year than in any year in history.
The occasion of Birkat Hahammah marks the return of the sun to the exact spot, at the exact time on the same day of the week that it occupied at its creation. The sun was created on the fourth day, and therefore this celebration is always on a Wednesday. But it is more than a birthday. This confluence of time and place (at least in the rabbinic imagination), when the dimensions of space and time mimic the moment of the sun's creation, makes this event a re-enactment, a rehearsing, a re-creation of the state of the cosmos when time and life began.
Birkat Hahammah, then, is not just a celebration of an anniversary. It is part of a return to that sterling, startling moment of newness. Every 28 years the heavens and the world reset. So too, it seems, can we.
We can use this under-stated, under-celebrated moment as a time to re-center our lives. Wherever we might have gone wrong, wherever we may have strayed from the path we once wanted to pursue, wherever we got distracted or lazy or sidetracked, we too can return there and reset our lives.
How grand of Judaism to give us so many chances of renewal: every day, every month, every year and every Birkat Hahammah. Interesting, isn't it, that all these renewals are pegged to the cycles of our celestial bodies (or, regarding the sun, our earthly cycle in relation to it). Daily, monthly, yearly and 28 year cycles. Birkat Hahammah is, perhaps, the biggest renewal of all. If the heavens reset, why can't we?
So, wake up early Wednesday, April 8. See the brightening and lightening of the sky, praise God for the majesty of creation, and your place in it, and begin the next cycle of your life anew.