I guess I find it odd because venerating the sun seems to be more of a pagan thing to do. Then again, many of the major religions have their roots in basic pagan-type festivals and practices, and have adopted some rituals along the way.
The whole process and all the calculations are quite elaborate — involving the vernal equinox, passages from the Talmud and the average air velocity of a unleavened matzo, I think — any of my Jewish friends, feel free to correct this poor gentile mensch in the comments.
Anyway, the general gist of it as I understand it (courtesy of Wikipedia and other more scholarly sources) is that the Sun has a 28-year cycle, and figuring that each year is 365.25 days long, it means that on Tuesday the Earth and Sun will be in the same exact position as when the world was originally created by God — not that anyone else was there to see it.
The official blessing, as translated from Hebrew, basically says, “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the Universe who makes the works of Creation,” and from what I read, is also the blessing used to celebrate other impressive natural events such as lightning, comets and Natalie Portman.
Anyway, I also think it’s interesting that the start/end of a 28-year cycle comes on the heels of a science-based 11-year solar cycle that is ending. It’s been an odd cycle because although this is a period when solar activity is usually less, for the past few years, there has been almost no sunspot activity. As a matter of fact, it’s been the least amount of sunspots recorded in over 60 years — although it’s not quite to level of the Maunder Minimum, a period of minimal sunspot activity that occurred from 1645 to 1710.
The Maunder Minimum time frame was also known as the “Little Ice Age,” and was marked by generally cooler temperatures around the globe, plus longer winters, more snow and cooler summers. Ugh!
Less sunspots = colder weather? But what about global warming? Or is all this perhaps nothing more than an inconvenient truth?
Well, if it works out so we can have better weather year-round, the Sun has my blessing!