Rabbi Avi Weinstein

Birchas Hachama Riot in 1897–A Clash of Civilizations

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2009 at 8:55 am

In honor of the fact that Birchas Hachama will be said this year, I bring you the following tidbit:

Here’s a New York Times article from 1897 describing the arrest of a certain Rabbi Wechsler for illegal assembly for blessing the sun. His colleague Rabbi Klein fled the scene.

Every twenty eight years from the beginning of creation, so the story goes, the sun is in its original place which is marked by a simple blessing on that day. It is always on Yom Revi’i (Wednesday) which is the day that the lights were created. Here’s the money quote:

The celebration is rather a complicated matter to explain to anybody. Rabbi Klein’s knowledge of English is slight, while Foley’s faculties of comprehension of matters outside of police and park regulations and local events are not acute. The attempt of a foreign citizen to explain to an American Irishman an astronomical situation and a tradition of the Talmud was a dismal failure.

You can just imagine!

Hat tip to Raysh Weiss


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