Monday, March 30, 2009

Parshas VaYikra:Birchas Hachama

This week I decided to talk about Birchas Hachama. Initially, I had decided that I wasn't going to talk about it-after all anyone can pick up anyone of the many seforim out there and read up on it. However, I decided how can I not give a shiur on something that only happens once every 28 years.

I won't bother rewriting the cheshbon-it's available elsewhere online. I discussed an interesting question that relates to the calculation. The whole calculation is predicated on the fact that the sun was created in N Isan. Yet if you ask anyone they will tell you the world was created the last week of Elul, with Adam being created on Rosh Hashana.

The truth is that it is a machlokes in the gemara whether the world was created in Tishrei or Nisan. We pasken for tekufos (which includes birchas hachama) it was created in Nisan but for the years we say it was Tishrei. How can both be true? I saw 2 interesting answers.

1) The Maharam Shik writes that the world was really created in Tishrei. However, birchas hachama represents the spot in the sky where the sun would have been the previous Nisan, had the world existed in NIsan. He compares it to our calculation of the molad. Our molad does not start from the moment Adam was created but it is backdated a year to the moment it would have been had there been a world then (called molad tohu)

2) Rabbi Bleich brings a tertez from the Ohr Hachama that the medrash says originally the worl dwas moving at a fast speed. Afer the cheit of Adam the world slowed down. Therefore, we can say the world was created in Nisan but it moved so fast that by the time Adam was created it was Tishrei. Then once Adam ate from the eitz hada'as the world slowed down and it took 365.25 days to circle the sun.

Chiyuv of Women

The poskim discuss whether women can recite the beracha. The Chasam Sofer writes the minhag is for women not too say it. The Ksav Sofer wants to explain the reason based on the fact that it is a mitzvas aseh she'hazman grama. Furthermore, even though women are allowed to do
a mitzvas aseh she'hazman grama, the Magen Avraham in Siman 296 says that is only when there is a ma'aaseh mitzvah involved. If the entire mitzva is a beracha women are not allowed to say it. The Magen Avraham says this is why women don't make havdala or say kiddush levana. The Kesav Sofer says this is also why women don't say Birchas Hachama.

The arguement against this is that Birchas Hachama is not a mitzvas aseh she'hazman grama. It is based on a phenomenon and is a metzius. Therefore the Maharil Diskin among many other poskim said women should say this beracha. The Minchas Yitzchak writes he would follow the minhag of the Chasam Sofer except that the Maharil Diskin paskened for Yerushalayim and therefore in Yerushalayim women should say it. Interestingly, I found in the pesakim of Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnefeld who was also the Rav of Yerushalayim that women don't say Birchas Hachama.

L'ma'aseh it would seem it is based on your minhag. If you follow minhagei Chasam Sofer it seems a woman should not say it.

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