Friday, July 27, 2007

Misconceptions - Geulah in 5769

For a comprehensive discussion on Birkat HaChamah, click here.

This is slightly off the direct subject, but for the sake of Truth I feel compelled to write.

I've now seen in numerous places online that people think that the Geulah is going to come in 5769. Why?

Because Birkat HaChamah will fall on Erev Pesach, as it did the year the Jews left Egypt, and in the time of the events recorded in Megillat Esther. And this is only desinted to occur 3 times in all of history.

What is Birkat HaChamah?

In Masechet Brachot 59B, a Baraita is taught:

One that sees the Sun in its Tekufah, the Moon in its Strength, the Stars in their Paths, and the Constellations in their Order makes the blessing Praised is the One that did Creation.

When is this? Abaye says: Every 28 years, the cycle returns and Tekufat Nissan falls in Shabbtai (Saturn) at the beginning of the Fourth Day (Tuesday night by our count).

So there are a few ideas that need be explained

  • Tekufat Nissan - This is the beginning of the Jewish Solar Year. Theoretically speaking it is the Spring Equinox.
  • Shabbtai - Chaza"l bring down that each of the 7 celestial bodies (that are visible to the naked eye) in our solar system are assigned an hour of the night. It is taught that this cycle started the beginning of the Fourth Day of creation (Tuesday night). The order starting at the beginning of the Fourth Day is: Shabbtai (Saturn), Tzedek (Jupiter), Maadim (Mars), Chamah (Sun), Nogah (Mercury), Kokhav (Venus), Levanah (Moon).

The Jewish Solar Year brought down in the Gemara there is according to Shmuel (Eruvin 56a) which is 365 days and 6 hours (365.25 days). If you do the math, you will see that every year, Tekufat Nissan advances 30 hours in the week. For our purposes here, we only care about when in the week this event occurs. If you continue the math, you will see that it returns to the exact same hour after 28 years. It is on those years, on the following morning, that we make the Brachah.

Therefore to see all of the years where according to this system, Birkat HaChamah would be said, simply take 1 + 28n, where n >= 0.

The first thing that you can check is to see if Birkat HaChamah occurred in 2448, the year that our forefathers left Egypt. Birkat HaChamah occured before we left Egypt in the year 2437, and afterwards in 2465.

The incidence of Birkat HaChamah with Erev Pesach is rare, but not unheard of. It last occurred only a few cycles ago in 5685 (1925). Persistence with a good Hebrew Calendar program will show you that this has happened between 5-10 times in the last thousand years (sorry, it's been a while since I checked). We simply cannot say that the third time is the Geulah.

So in order for us to be intellectually honest with this, we must say one of the following:

  • The Exodus did not occur in the year 2448 as our tradition dictates
  • The calculations used to determine when to recite Birkat HaChamah have changed, in which there is an inherent inconsistency to attach significance to 5769.
  • This prediction of the Geulah in 5769 is not correct.

Just as a side note, an interesting calculation that I've found:

If you line up the Solar Years according to Tekufat Shmuel and Tekufat Adda, and see which years are in common for Birkat HaChamah (for Tekufat Adda, which years fall during the entire first hour of the Fourth Day, as it never returns to the exact moment), you will find two years: year 1 and 4297 (637CE), which was the year that Jerusalem fell to Omar and the Muslims. For the sake of truth, we must note that this is because over the course of approximately 2150 years, the two "new years" drifted apart until it the difference became equal to exactly one week. So while 4297 is the one year that Birkat HaChamah would be true for both systems, it would not be the same week.

Note: This is not to say that 5769 will be an insignificant year. See here for more.


  1. Glad to see that you are posting formally! Question back on "The Choice": You wrote that the "GR"A knew that we must come home out of desire, for if we don't, it will be as refuge." Did this apply only to the beginning of the process (during the GR"A's time...or that of Rav Chaim)...or also to our time? If so, does the American aliyah play a particular role in the process, coming as it does, at least for now, out of desire?


  2. sme,

    The matter of Aliyah cannot be played down. The gates of Aliyah by Desire are still open in most parts of the world. Aliyah by Refuge is a function of Appointed Times. Aliyah by Refuge is built in to time to force a certain schedule for Geulah. We see in 1948 that 600,000 Jewish souls made it to Eretz Yisrael, largely due to post-WWII refugees. G-d willing, I will speak about 600,000 souls another time. Anyway, indeed, 1948 was one of these Appointed Times, and events occurred as they did leading up to this date because we were not worthy of better.

    Further Appointed Times are approaching us, and the "quality" of such times is dependent on us, and one of the important factors of this is Aliyah. When it is time for Hashem's servants to empty out Galut before moving on to the next stage of Geulah, how much Nachat would Hashem have if His servant found out that His children went home on their own?

  3. I'm a little slow in some of these matters.... how is Tuesday the 4th day "by our reckoning"...? If Shabbos is the last day of the week (7th), would Tuesday not be the 3rd day of the week? Please elaborate

  4. Zipora Elisheva,

    The days on the Jewish calendar start with the night.

    Day 1 - Saturday Night through Sunday
    Day 2 - Sunday Night through Monday
    Day 3 - Monday Night through Tuesday
    Day 4 - Tuesday night through Wednesday


    "And there was evening and there was morning, one day" (Genesis 1:5)

    Take care

  5. Yishar Koach, 2448 is not close to a year of Birkat HaCham. Amazing that nobody does these simple checks.

    One can also ask about Purim. If Birkat HaChama was on Erev Pesach that year, and it was around the time of the building of Bayit Sheni, an honest person would try to calculate the year in which Purim occurred. I tried. The only candidate is the year 3221, when Birkat HaChama was the day before Erev Pesach, mathematically speaking. Perhaps there was a problem with observing the Moon that month, and it was Erev Pesach. The year 3221 it somewhat early. It would have been in the years of Cyrus:

  6. Anonymous, correct you are. However the math disproving the first is far easier (because it only requires the first calculation of Birkat HaChamah and not a differential between Tekufat Nissan of Shmuel and the traditional Molad date).

    And of course we know that 5769 is nonetheless a significant year for other (not readily visible yet) related reasons.

    Shabbat Shalom

  7. Assuming there is a source for this Purim/Erev-Pesach-Birkat-HaChamah connection, the year 3221 is interesting. It would be the year before Koresh conquered Bavel. If Achashveros was Koresh' successor, the whole Purim story would have happened in the 28 years after 3221. It gives a perspective, perhaps.

    At the time of Yetziat Mitzrayim, if Birkat HaChamah would be Erev Pesach, the Spring equinox would be well after Nisan 16, and that is impossible.

  8. One's head can spin when trying to get all this to work. Assuming Churban HaBayit in 3175 (which appears to be the opinion hinted at in Tikkunei Zohar) we see that all of the Jewish calendar was reverse calculated in the time of Bayit Sheini. Wouldn't we then move 2448 back 163 years as well for finding the molad moment? Not that this helps the drash at all, since the brachah is based on the 28 year cycle of 1 + 28x (a strictly non-physical phenomenon of the mazal sha'ah), neither meets this requirement.

    On the topic of Yetziat Mitzrayim, there is a fascinating statement in Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer that implies that Sod ha'Ibbur was not practiced during Galut Mitzrayim. I have not found a peirush on this. If it means that the year was not adjusted for 210 years, that means after apprimately 11 19-year cycles, the calendar would be off by 77 months, more than 6 years.

    Also mentioned there is a 21 year cycle of strictly lunar years (12 lunar months).

  9. I was wondering why is it that Birkat Hachamah is calculated 1+ 28x making this Birkat HaChamah 5769.

    If it is the alignment of the solar system on the fourth day of creation why then the one extra year?
    I understand the 28 year cycle but not that extra year!
    Please enlighten me!


  10. Moshe Baruch,

    The assumption is that on the first our of the Fourth Night, being 73 hours in to the week, in the 1st year, the sun was at a certain position. Every year, the sun advances 30 hours in to the week. After 28 years, it returns to the 73rd hour of the week.

    If you have Microsoft Excel, do the following:

    Set column A to years 1 onward
    Set cell B1 to 73
    Set cell B2 to =MOD(B1+30,168)
    Copy cell B2 onwards (to auto increment the math).

    You'll see that in year 1, year 29, etc, is hour 73.

    Why 73? Start with hour 1 being 6pm Motzaei Shabbat, the first hour of Tuesday night is 73.

    Kol tuv

  11. You said that the 7 planets are each assigned one hour of the night: what are the times for these 7 hours? If a person was born at say 3am - which planet was the relevant one for that time?

  12. I think that Bircat Hachama fell on Erev Pesach as recently as 1925!

  13. Correct. Indeed the theory that Geulah is related to the 3rd instance of this occuring was published back in 1925.