25 Oct, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

As children dress up and wander the streets begging for candy on Halloween, an extra “blue moon” will be shining overhead. At face value, it seems that the additional moon symbolizes the rise of evil in the world three days before the presidential election but one rabbi explains that an “extra” appearance of the moon accompanied the destruction of Sodom.

Halloween Blue Moon

As usual,  the full Harvest Moon, the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox, will appear on Friday, October 1, but another full moon will appear on Saturday, October 31, investing the month of October with an extra moon, referred to in American folklore as a blue moon. The phrase in modern usage has nothing to do with the actual color of the moon. A blue moon is an additional full moon that appears in a subdivision of a year: either the third of four full moons in a season or a second full moon in a month of the common calendar resulting in a calendar year with 13 full moons. The phenomenon is relatively rare, occurring once every 2.5-3 years, hence the idiom, “Once in a blue moon.” 

But the blue moon this year taking place on Halloween is even rarer, appearing every 19 years in some time zones. A Halloween blue moon was seen in 2001 but the last time before that was in 1955. The next Halloween blue moon will appear in 20139.

It should be emphasized that the concept of a blue moon is irrelevant to the Jewish calendar. Jewish months begin with a New Moon and end the day before the next New Moon, so each Jewish month can have only one New Moon.

Biblical Sign

The Bible describes such astronomical phenomena as a divine sign

Hashem said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from the night; they shall serve as signs for the set times—the days and the years.” Genesis 1:14

An extra moon, or an increase of the moon, is predicted in the Talmud (Hulin 60b) to take place in the end-of-days based on a verse in Genesis.

Hashem made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars. Genesis 1:16

Though initially described in equal terms, the verse then noted the sun and the moon were not equal, with the sun being called the “greater light” and the moon the “lesser light”. The Talmud explains that when God created the sun and the moon they were equal in every manner, including size and intensity. The moon complained, saying, “Two kings cannot share one crown.” God agreed and diminished the moon, compensating it by commanding Israel to set the calendar by its cycles while also commanding Israel to bring an additional sin offering on the new moon to atone for the injustice done to the moon. This injustice will be rectified in the days after the Final Redemption. 

Moons and Politics

This newfound interest in ancient evil has a political bias. A group of left-wing witches and warlocks joined together last year on Halloween to use black-magic to place a hex on President Trump and his supporters. In October 2018,  an occult bookstore in Brooklyn organized a gathering to hex newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the National Rifle Association.

Not only does the blue moon rise over Halloween but it will be three days before the US Presidential election. Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, emphasized that the proximity of the two events is significant. He noted that at a political rally in Greenville, North Carolina last Thursday, Trump declared that salvation from the Coronavirus, a disease he recently suffered from, is entirely in God’s hands.

‘Masks, no masks, everything you can do all you want, but you know, you still need help from THE BOSS!!” Trump said, pointing to the heavens. “That’s what I did. We need help. It’s alright to say.”

Trump then praised the Christian god by name. 

“And we will live by the words of our national motto, ‘In God we trust,” Trump said.

Rabbi Berger emphasized that it is forbidden for Jews to accept the Christian theological claims.

“The coronavirus is like the plagues of Egypt before the Exodus but it is global, intended to be a global awakening and reckoning,” Rabbi Berger said. “The solution is not in science but in God. What we are about to see is the point and counterpoint of idolatry and paganism pitted against the universal belief in one true God, as prophesied by Zecharia,” Rabbi Berger said.

And Hashem shall be king over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Hashem with one name. Zechariah 14:9

Rabbi Berger noted that this Halloween will be seen by idolators as a major time of rejoicing as the moon is a symbol of idolatry.

“Idolators will see the extra moon as a sign that their horrible beliefs are on the rise,” Rabbi Berger said. “But Jewish commentaries explain that on the day that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, God placed both the sun and the moon that they worshipped in the heavens. If destruction had come upon them by day, they would have said that the moon would have helped them; if by night, they would have declared that the sun would have been their aid. So God brought down destruction on the cities destroyed early in the morning when both the sun and the moon were shining.”

As dawn broke, the angels urged Lot on, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two remaining daughters, lest you be swept away because of the iniquity of the city.” Genesis 19:15

“This year, we see the same message,” Rabbi Berger said. “Even though they pray to the moon, even though they are celebrating their disgusting pagan holiday and enticing children with candy to worship the devil, it is inevitable that in the end, they will fall and people who praise God will be the only ones remaining.”

Halloween’s Pagan Roots

Halloween began as Samhain (pronounced Sow-in), one of the four main pagan holidays celebrated by the Celtics, who lived in areas of Ireland, northern England, and France before Romans conquered the region in the first century CE. Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year.

Similar to modern Halloween, Celtic pagans dressed up in costumes on Samhain and lit bonfires. Samhain was seen as a liminal time when the boundary between this world and the spirit world could more easily be crossed. As such, it was an auspicious time for summoning dark spirits to aid in necromancy, communicating with the dead to foretell the future, a practice explicitly prohibited in the Bible.

Let no one be found among you who consigns his son or daughter to the fire, or who is an augur, a soothsayer, a diviner, a sorcerer, one who casts spells, or one who consults ghosts or familiar spirits, or one who inquires of the dead. Deuteronomy 18:10-11

Samhain was celebrated from sundown October 31 to sundown November 1, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. People believed that on Samhain, spirits roamed the world, and gifts of food and wine would be left out to appease the spirits. When people left their houses at night, they wore masks so they would be mistaken for fellow ghosts.  

In what is widely believed to be an effort to subsume the Celtic pagan holiday into the Christian religion, in 1000 C.E. the church declared November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day honoring the dead. The night before All Souls’ Day was re-adopted in the Celtic region, with the name changed from Samhain to All Hallows’ Eve.

The holiday became popular in America in the second half of the nineteenth century with a wave of Irish immigration resulting from the potato famine. Today, it is the second most popular holiday for spending money in the US: Americans shell out $2.5 billion on costumes and an additional $3.5 billion on candy.

While many Americans insist that Halloween is a secular, family-oriented holiday, because of its clear origins in paganism and its connection with forbidden necromancy, most halachic (Torah law) authorities prohibit observant Jews from participating in Halloween.

Paganism: A Growing Phenomenon

Studies show that paganism in the U.S. has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years, accompanied by an increasing mainstream interest in occult-related activities like astrology, tarot, and spellcasting. An article in Quartz cited a study performed by Trinity College in Connecticut. From 1990 to 2008, the college ran three large, detailed religion surveys showing that Wicca, a contemporary Pagan new religious movement incorporating witchcraft, grew tremendously over this period. From an estimated 8,000 Wiccans in 1990, they found there were about 340,000 practitioners in 2008. In addition to the Wiccans, the study showed another 340,000 people self-identified as Pagans in 2008.

A later study by the Pew Research Center in 2014 found that 0.4 percent of Americans, or around 1-1.5 million people, self-identify as Wiccan or Pagan. To put this in perspective, a report in the Christian Post on this study compares this to other religions.

“There may now be more Americans who identify as practicing witches, 1.5 million than there are members of mainline Presbyterianism (PCUSA),1.4 million,” the article wrote.

The Church of Satan, the first organized church in modern times to be devoted to the figure of Satan, perceives Halloween as an opportunity for the average American to indulge in secret Satanist fantasies. On its website, the church claims that Halloween is “the night when the mundane folk try to reach down inside and touch the ‘darkness’, which for Satanists is a daily mode of existence.” They claim that by dressing in costume, the average American is taking “a brief dip into the pool of the ‘shadow world.’”