The first supermoon of 2020 will appear on Monday evening as the holiday of Purim ends and the second day referred to as Shushan Purim begins.
A supermoon occurs when the full moon coincides with the perigee — the closest that the Moon comes to the Earth in its elliptic orbit — resulting in a larger-than-usual apparent size of the lunar disk as viewed from Earth. A full moon at perigee appears roughly 14% larger in diameter than at apogee and appears up to 30 percent brighter. Supermoons usually appear 3-4 times each year.
The holiday of Purim was set for the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar. As per the Book of Esther, the Jews who lived in Shushan celebrated Purim on the 15th of Adar. These two dates were established in perpetuity.
The sages established this rule for other cities that were similar to Shushan, that is to say, walled cities that existed when Joshua entered Israel after the Exodus from Egypt. Along with Shushan (which is located in modern-day southwestern Iran), this includes Jerusalem, Jericho, and, according to some opinions, Jaffa and Tiberias.
Purim also coincides with the vernal (spring) equinox when the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north. On the equinox, the day and night are each about 12 hours in length everywhere on Earth.
Americans traditionally assign names to astral events based on Native American traditions who tracked seasons based on lunar cycles. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, one of the most popular names for the full moon in March is the “Full Worm Moon ” because as the weather warms and the ground softens, earthworms begin to appear, which the Native Americans marked as a sign of the beginning of spring.
The Shushan Purim supermoon will be followed by two more in consecutive months: the second will be on Wednesday, April 8 and the third on Thursday, May 7. The next supermoon will be the morning of September 17, arriving in time to begin Rosh Hashanna, the Hebrew New Year.
Supermoon: A Sign of New Governments
Rabbi Yosef Berger noted the political significance of the supermoon falling on Purim, Passover, and Rosh Hashanna.
“The moon represents malchut (מלכות; kingship),” Rabbi Berger said. “Every kingdom rises and falls and eventually disappears. Only Israel and the Davidic dynasty is eternal. That is because other kingdoms grab power by virtue of their strength. The moon, kingship, does not have a strength of its own. Like the moon, kings must reflect the glory of the sun, of Hashem (God; literally the name. The only king who did this was King David. And so the Davidic dynasty is eternal, like the glory of God it channels into the world.”
“Purim is where we see the glory of God brought into the world and overcoming an earthly king and the political forces that acted against the Jews. Pesach (Passover) was when Hashem brought the Jews out of Egypt. The only reason he did so was to have the world see that He was our one true king. Rosh Hashanna is when the Jews declare that Hashem is king.”
“We know from the Talmud that the Redemption will come in the months of Adar and Nissan, that is to say, the months of Purim and Pesach.
“A supermoon on all these holidays means that the Davidic dynasty is about to return,” Rabbi Berger concluded.
The City of Shushan (And Many Other Capitals) Become Confused
It is interesting to note that the city of Purim became “dumbfounded” after King Ahasuerus sent out Haman’s decree to kill the Jews.
This Shushan Purim supermoon comes at a time when several countries are facing political confusion and upheaval. Israel just completed a third-round election that, through a remarkable and entirely un-anticipatable series of events, should have been scheduled for Purim. Since it is a national holiday, the elections were advanced one week earlier. Perhaps due to their roots in a holiday whose very nature implies confusion, the elections produced ambiguous results. According to most experts, neither Netanyahu nor his opponent, Benny Gantz, will be able to succeed in forming a coalition. The U.S. is currently going through primary campaigns in which the Democrats are most probably going to run their convention without any clear winner to be chosen as the most popular delegate. Many nations, including China, Iran, and even the Vatican, are being confused and challenged by the coronavirus.
Purim After the Messiah
The Jewish Sages teach that once Moshiach (Messiah) arrives, none of the Biblical festivals will be celebrated any longer except for Purim. Purim is referred to as the “hidden holiday” since neither God’s name nor His intervention appears in the story of Purim. The name of Esther, the heroine of the story, literally means hidden,
Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a prolific end-of-days author, explains that the distinctive light of Purim, which is embodied in the ability to recognize God even when He is hidden, will never be extinguished.
Purim: A Time When Enemies Become Friends in Redemption
Jews are commanded to drink on Purim until they can no longer tell the difference between Mordechai, the righteous hero, and Haman, the evil villain. The story took place in Persia, a region currently ruled by an evil Iranian regime that is Israel’s greatest enemy. But in the same way that the Book of Esther flips tragedy onto victory, the Sanhedrin sees Iran as a possible key player in the construction of the Third Temple.
The Tomb of Esther and Mordechai
Queen Esther is the iconic and legendary character of the Purim story. Her tomb, and that of the other hero of the story, Morchechai, lies in the Iranian city of Hamadan. Today, the Iranian Jews are known as the children of Esther.
Last month, in an extremely Purim-like case of confusing the villain and the righteous hero, the Iranian government threatened to demolish the Tomb of Mordechai and Esther and convert the site into a Palestinian consular complex.