This Friday night will bring together three prophetic significant astronomical events in an astonishing astral confluence arriving on a Jewish arboreal holiday with lunar roots.
Overnight, a penumbra lunar eclipse, the aptly named “snow moon”, and the passing of a comet will all appear within hours of each other. “Snow moon” is the traditional Native American name for the full moon in February, since this is typically the month with the most snow and the coldest temperatures.
A penumbra eclipse occurs when the moon moves through the outer part of Earth’s shadow. Lunar eclipses only occur during a full moon, but a penumbra eclipse is a relatively rare phenomenon, representing about a third of all eclipses. It creates subtle effect, making the moon seem just a bit darker.
A few hours after the eclipse, Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková, which has been visible by telescope for the last two months, will make its closest approach to the Earth. It will pass within 7.5 million miles of our planet, returning again in 5.25 years.
Friday night is also the holiday of Tu B’Shvat, the fifteenth of the Hebrew month of Shvat. This is the day named in the Talmud as the ‘new year of the trees.’
At that time Melech Hamoshiach (Messiah the King) will awaken and go out from Gan Eden (Garden of Eden), from the place called Kan Tzippor, and will be revealed in the Galil (Galilee)…. A star will arise from the East side, flaming with all colors, and seven other stars will go around this star and make a war with it on all sides three times a day for 70 days, and all the people of the world will see. Zohar
The moon and eclipses have a more subtle role to play in Judaism. Ira Machefsky is an amateur astronomer with 60 years of experience who runs stargazing tours in Mizpeh Ramon, a town perched on a huge crater in the Negev desert. As an astronomer in the Holy Land, Machefsky has a tendency to see the divine import of heavenly events.
To what can this be compared? To a human being who made a banquet for his servants and put up for them a lamp. When he became angry with them he said to his servant, ‘Take away the lamp from them, and let them sit in the dark’. Talmud Bavli Sukkot 29a
“Of course, Israel isn’t ruled by astrology,” Machefsky pointed out, quoting the continuation of the passage.
But when Israel fulfill the will of the Omnipresent, they need have no fear of all these [omens] as it is said, Thus saith the HaShem,’ Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven.
“Since it is only a penumbra eclipse of the moon, perhaps it portends something that will only be slightly bad,” suggested Machefsky.
He explained that the full moon on Friday night does not represent winter for the Jews, but signals the approaching spring.
“Judaism measures the months by moons,” Machefsky told Breaking Israel News. “The full moon is the middle of the month and this month it is the holiday of Tu B’Shvat.”
The holiday also has astrological significance, marking the midpoint between winter and spring. “This full moon on Tu B’Shvat is the Jewish version of Groundhog Day,” explained Machefsky. “It is a cross-quarter holiday. It signals the halfway point for the quarter of the year. In this case, with six weeks of winter behind us and six weeks still remaining, it marks the beginning of the end of winter. It is halfway between the winter solstice, on December 21, and the spring equinox, on March 20.
“This full moon is the tipping point when we can start looking forward to the trees blooming,” he concluded.