Monday, April 20, 2009

A Virtual Sun

After writing the previous post, on reflection, I decided that I was exhibiting a lack of emunah, faith. After all, surely it would be sunny on April 8th, if that was what Hashem intended, and my own efforts in traveling to somewhere the sun was shining would be pointless. This decision was aided by a forecast that showed cloud cover for about 1000 miles in all directions. So I decided to not travel and trust that the sun would be visible here. Also I figured that since the more frequent mitzvah takes precedence, the Pesach Seder should come before the sun blessing, and it was more important to have a proper Seder at home than to have a “take-out” Seder in some hotel.
As you can see from the photo, it was not sunny, not only could the sun not be seen, it was difficult to see the next hill. The hours passed, no clearing, not even lessening of the fog, the children were upset, they had been looking forward to the sun blessing. I was upset; I had been looking forward to the sun blessing. Then I had an idea, if I couldn’t see the sun where I was, and I couldn’t be where the sun was, maybe I could see the sun where the sun was where I was. We called my brother-in-law in Kansas City, was the sun shining there? It was! We connected with Skype, an internet based phone service that allows live conversations with real time images to be transmitted to your computer, he pointed his web cam at the sun and presto, there was the sun, shining in Kansas City and in our office simultaneously.
Now I am not sure that this fit all the halachic requirements, but we could see the sun just as if we were looking at it through a window, it’s just that the other side of the glass was 2000 miles away.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Mitzvah of Wunderground

On April 8th it will not only be erev Pesach but the one and only chance for the next 28 years to say the Bircas Hachama, the blessing of the sun. Since I missed doing this the last time it happened and don’t know if I will still be here to participate the next time, I am determined to do the mitzvah this time around. That being said, I should mention that in the part of the country in which I reside we have an average of 60 clear days out of every 365, so the odds of being able to see the sun on April 8th are not very high. So each day I have been logging on to Wunderground and studying the forecast for all areas within a 1000 mile radius. I am prepared to drive as far as Boise, Idaho. The problem isn’t loading the whole family into the car Tuesday night and driving until we get somewhere with clear skies, the problem is that Wednesday is erev Pesach which means cooking for the seders, a lot of cooking, a lot of cooking that can’t be done if on Wednesday morning we happen to be in Boise, Idaho. So, I humbly ask Hashem that wherever there are Jews that wish to perform the mitzvah of blessing the sun, there should be clear skies for them to say the Brachah. If it turns out my merit is not so good, my back-up plan is to cook all the food on Monday, pack it away in Tupperware in an ice chest, and have our seders in a Best Western somewhere in Idaho.