Celebrated a sublime Birkat Hachamah this morning at JRC. Began with meditation as the sun rose through the east window-wall of our sanctuary, then followed with yoga sun salutations – both led with profound depth of spirit by congregational member Carole Caplan. After this powerful prelude we participated in the Birkat Hachamah service itself (above).
As part of the liturgy, I added this verse from last Shabbat’s Haftarah:
For you who revere my name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. (Malachi 3:20)
We then listened to this commentary from the great Rabbi Milton Steinberg, z”l:
After a long illness I was permitted for the first time to step outdoors. And as I crossed the threshold, sunlight greeted me. So long as I live I shall never forget that moment. The sky overhead was very blue, very clear, and very, very high. A faint wind blew off from the western plains, cool and yet somehow tinged with warmth – like a dry chilled wine. And everywhere in the firmament above me, in the great vault between earth and sky, on the pavements, the buildings – the golden glow of sunlight. It touched me, too, with friendship, with warmth, with blessing. And as I basked in its glory there ran through my mind those wonderful words of the prophet Malachi: “For you who revere My name a sun of righteousness will rise with healing on its wings.”
And I remembered how often I had been indifferent to the sunlight, how often, preoccupied with petty and sometimes mean concerns, I had disregarded it. And I said to myself, How precious is the sunlight, but alas, how careless of it we are.
How precious indeed, especially upon a day such as this; a day in which, as Jewish tradition would have it, the sun returns on its twenty-eight year cycle to the place it originally occupied at the time of it creation.
This Pesach may we all bask in the sunlight of God’s liberation…
PS: It was a briliant and clear morning in the Chicago area (see pic below)!