Rabbi Arthur Segal – Jewish Weddings – Hilton Head

Solar Eclipse, The Bible and Judaism by Rabbi Dr Arthur Segal, jewish spiritual renewal, hilton head

Solar Eclipse, The Bible and Judaism by Rabbi Dr Arthur Segal

Foremost: The Book of Joel connects celestial signs  with the Messianic redemption  and the war of Gog and Magog at Har Megiddo. (Armageddon in Greek)  ”The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the LORD arrives.” {Jo. 2:31}

Our Chazel believed that everything that we observe in the world, physically, can be studied as a metaphor for our spiritual world. Our rabbis felt the solar eclipse was giving us specific messages. 

The Talmud (Sukkah 29a) declares: “An eclipse of the sun is a bad omen for the world. Why? It’s like a king who made a huge banquet and set up a lantern to illuminate the party. Similarly, this world is a beautiful banquet which God has prepared for us. If the lantern is covered, as in a solar eclipse, it diminishes our enjoyment of the world.”

So the sages, inquire what specific message is G!d trying to impart to us. The Talmud specifies that the sun is eclipsed  when 4 things occur. [Talmud (Sukkah 29a)]  The sages list the most important is when a  rabbi is not respected properly. {They use the example of if a rabbi is not eulogized upon his passing}. If a society does not show respect for a rabbi, it shows a lack of appreciation for the ethical values that he upholds and teaches. This is a bad omen – indicating a society in a state of moral and spiritual decline. ***

The Maharsha (17th century Poland) says that a rabbi is compared to the sun in that he “radiates” Torah to the people. For example, the Talmud (Bava Batra 75a) compares “the face of Moses to the face of the sun.” So a solar eclipse could be called an “eclipse of the spiritual sun.”

An eclipse is an opportunity to examine our own relationship with Rabbis and their teachings. Do we treat them disrespectfully, especially in shul board meetings, or do we see them as ”luminaries of humanity?” Do we learn from our rabbis or ignore than, or worse, treat them as ‘tumblers’ or maitre d’s at our simchas and officiants of ‘mazel tov factories.”

G!d knows the future, and at creation , Kabbalistically speaking, G!d knew the future at the moment of creation if not before. Our Talmudic rabbis and their societies, especially in Babylon/Persia were able to predict eclipses and celestial events. Hence, G!d was able to determine when  rabbis and their ethical and spiritual teachings would not be properly respected. So G!d, as taught in the Zohar,  set eclipses to correspond to these times.

The mystical concept of how God is outside of time and space is difficult for we humans  to understand.

Via astronomy, putting aside Judaism, what causes a solar eclipse?

”The moon orbits the earth, and whenever the moon is lined up between the earth and the sun, the illuminated side of the moon faces away from the earth and cannot be seen. This moment is called a “new moon” and is the beginning of every Jewish month (“Rosh Chodesh”).

So why isn’t there a solar eclipse every month? Because the orbits of the moon and earth are tilted at an angle, and the line-up is usually not precise enough for an eclipse.

The amazing thing is that since the sun is 400 times larger than the moon, the only way that the moon could fit as a perfect cover over the sun, is because the sun is also 400 times farther away than the moon. Hence a perfect fit!”

Seriously folks,  even though the sun appears covered, don’t look. The sun’s corona is very powerful and blindness can occur. You won’t feel pain. The symptoms occur hours later.

Maimonides writes (Deyot 4) that it is a Torah obligation to guard one’s physical health. Therefore, regardless of how tempting it is to look at the sun during the eclipse, don’t do it. Sunglasses are not effective; you must use specifically approved treated plastic or glass filters, or indirectly view the sun’s projection through a pin-hole.

May the Almighty illuminate our hearts, and shine His light of Torah throughout the world.

***(Talmud Bavli, Succoth 29a) teaches that the other 3 reasons for an eclipse:

1) an engaged virgin, is being raped, in a busy city, and cries out and no one helps her.

(Think of how Rabbinic ethical teachings are ignored for this to occur. Think of 1964 NYC and Kitty Genovese https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Kitty_Genovese)

2) forced sodomy ( again, an example of society’s sinking. Think of the Midrash re Noah’s generation)

3) if two brothers died on the same day

SO THIS ECLIPSE IS NOT JUST A TIME FOR BLESSING G!D, {EVERY MOMENT EACH DAY IS A TIME FOR THIS} BUT ANOTHER TIME FOR US, TO REALLY DO SOME INTROSPECTION, A SINCERE CHESHBON HA NEFESH, STRONG TESHUVAH, AND MAKE THE MONTH OF ELUL. STARTING THE DAY AFTER THE ECLIPSE, TRULY PREPARING US FOR THE DAYS OF AWE, A MONTH LATER.
SHALOM and BLESSINGS:

RABBI DR ARTHUR SEGAL
credit: Talmud, Rambam,various internet sitesAAAAAAAAAAAASOLECL

 

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