A centerpiece of the daily morning liturgy is the Sh’ma—the essential declaration of faith in the Almighty and His oneness. According to the Talmud, it must be preceded by two blessings, the second of which describes God’s love for the Jewish people. But the purpose of the first blessing, a much longer, lyrical paean to the sun and its rays, yoked to praises of the Creator sung by angels and seraphs and other elements of the “heavenly host”—is not nearly so obvious.
A Pagan-Seeming Blessing in the Daily Prayers
Why do Jews praise the great lights?