The Story of How Rav Boruch Kaplan, Rav Shachne Zohn and Others Said Birchas Hachama 56 Years Ago – When it Was Raining


shachneh-zohn1Birchas Hachama, we are all familiar by now, is said only once every 28 years when the sun, which was created on the fourth day of creation, returns to the exact spot at the same time and day as when it was created. This coming Wednesday, April 8th, is the next time we will have the opportunity to make this bracha, and we will not make it again for another 28 years. 

This bracha cannot be made on a cloudy day. The sun must be somewhat visible (see our discussion of these halachos here). On the day of Birchas Hachama 56 years ago, it was raining in New York City.  The forecast for the entire day was that it would continue to be rainy.

Rav Yaakov London, who lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Rav Boruch Kaplan, the legendary pioneer of Yiddishkeit in New York in the early part of the last century, called the commanding officer to explain that they had a religious function that could only be accomplished on that day. He stated that it was necessary to be able to actually observe the sun.

Amazingly, the navy provided Rav London and Rav Kaplan with a plane. A group of five rabbonim boarded. They were Rav Yaakov London, Rav Boruch Kaplan, Rav Shachne Zohn (seen in photo above), Rav Yechiel London, and Rav Shereshevsky.

The rabbonim were flown in the air above the clouds and were able to then see the sun and fulfill the mitzvah.

When there is a will, there’s a way. When one has a genuine determination to fulfill a mitzvah, nothing can stop him.

{Dovid Newscenter, Rabbi Dovid Max-Bucks County}


  1. To “Me To” I’m assuming they flew in a plane to rise above the clouds to be able to view the sun or flew the plane to a place that had clear sky to view the sun elsewhere – So that these Gedolim were able to recite Birchas HaChamah 🙂

  2. One chassidishe rebbe once told his talmid. The diff. Between you and I is you want an apple so you make a bracha. I want to make a bracha so I eat an apple! By the way the satmar rebbe r’ yoel didn’t hold of going on a plane to make the bracha if hashem wants us to make the bracha he’ll move the clouds away

  3. for the record there is more to this story – they went to the satmar rav to offer him to come and he said “kinderlach oib mehn zeht di chama macht min a bracha” rav kaplan definitely did not go after that i dont know about the others

  4. It’s a machlokes if you can say a brocho when it’s cloudy. Another good eitza is to go to the ocean and make a brocho on both the ocean and the sun.

  5. I heard that the story with the plane, was with the Bostoner Rebbe. R. Henoch Teller writes the story in one of his books.


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