On the night of Friday, July 27th, the longest lunar eclipse of the century will appear in the heavens over Israel, with one rabbi labeling it “an omen for Israel.”
Though it is remarkable in its longevity, lunar eclipses are not rare, occurring an average of three times each year.
In its discussion of eclipses, the Talmud (Sukkot 29a) specifically described solar eclipses as being a bad omen for the nations. Indeed, the complete solar eclipse that transversed the continental United States last summer ushered in the most devastating hurricane season in US history.
The same source in the Talmud specifies that lunar eclipses are a bad omen for Israel since Israel is spiritually represented by the moon. If the lunar eclipse takes place in the east side of the heavens, then it is a bad omen for all the nations in the east, and similarly, if it occurs in the western hemisphere of the sky, it is a bad sign for all the nations in the west.
It is important to note that the lunar eclipse on Friday night will appear in the eastern sky. Rabbi Lazer Brody, an American-born Hasidic rabbi and teacher, has a particularly clear and definitive understanding of the upcoming lunar eclipse in the context of the Talmud in his blog, Lazer Beams.
“People may try to interpret this as having significance for world politics but the lunar eclipse is an omen for Israel,” Rabbi Brody explained to Breaking Israel News. “If anything, this may be a warning specifically for Israel and potential war from the east. In today’s context, that might be Iran.”
If during the course of the lunar eclipse the moon appears red, as the upcoming eclipse will be, the Talmud states that this is an omen that great wars will come to the world.
At the end of this section describing the omens contained within eclipses, the Talmud states a disclaimer: “When Israel does the will of the place (God), they have nothing to fear from all of this,” citing the Prophet Jeremiah as a source.
Thus said Hashem: Do not learn to go the way of the nations, And do not be dismayed by portents in the sky; Let the nations be dismayed by them! Jeremiah 10:2
Rabbi Brody cited a prophecy in Isaiah concerning the possible timing of the Messiah’s arrival.
The smallest shall become a clan; The least, a mighty nation. I Hashem will speed it in due time. Isaiah 60:22
The rabbi cited Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, an 11th century French Torah scholar who is known by the acronym, “Rashi.”
“Rashi explains that if the Jews so merit, the geula (redemption) will be hastened; if they don’t merit, it will come anyway in its appointed time,” Brody wrote in his blog. “My esteemed and beloved teacher Rabbi Shalom Arush explained to me that a ‘hastened’ redemption will be a merciful and joyous redemption, whereas an ‘in its time’ redemption is liable to be one of wars and strife, Heaven forbid.”
Rabbi Brody noted that the lunar eclipse falls on the 16th day of the Hebrew month of Av. The preceding day – the 15th of Av – is referred to as Tu B’Av, which Rabbi Brody explains is “the best day of the year for the Jewish People.”
Rabbi Brody also notes that the lunar eclipse falls during the Sabbath after Tisha B’Av, the fast day commemorating the destruction of both Jewish Temples.
“[This is] the Sabbath of consolation, when Hashem consoles His people the Shabbat following the 9th of Av,” Rabbi Brody wrote.
Brody highlighted that the remarkable duration of the eclipse also had significance.
In the context of the lunar eclipse being a sign for Israel, Brody clarified how it could be either an omen for bad or an omen for good.
“The total time of the upcoming eclipse, the longest of this century, will be 6 hours, 13 minutes,” the rabbi explained. “613 is the exact number of the Torah’s commandments. Coincidence? No such thing.”
The specific meaning of this eclipse will depend on how a person relates to the 613 commandments.
“Everything Hashem does is a phenomenal mercy,” Brody said. “There is so much good in Israel even though this is one of the most difficult generations. The yetzer hara (evil inclination) has the most incredible tools in all the screens and the Internet, to pull people away from God and kedusha (sanctity). Even so, people are still holding on to their belief.”
This was the key to what type of omen this lunar eclipse will be in the context of global redemption focused on Israel.
“If someone is clinging to Hashem, there is no safer place than the land of Israel,” Rabbi Brody said. “But if someone is not doing hashem’s will, then there is no more dangerous place than the land of Israel.”
Other spiritual leaders also saw significance in this lunar eclipse. In a recent video, Rabbi Matityahu Glazerson, a Torah Codes expert, found clues hidden in the Book of Numbers for this specific lunar eclipse. Using a Torah program that searches for equidistant letter sequences in the Bible, he discovered the words אב ליקוי חמה (the month Av, lunar eclipse). He also found a code for the exact date, 15th of Av, 5778.
In this code was a verse the rabbi felt was especially poignant for this era.
You shall not defile the land in which you live, in which I Myself abide, for I Hashem abide among B’nei Yisrael. Numbers 35:34
The rabbi noted that Tu B’av is the Jewish holiday of love. But, he warns, it is precisely a perverted power of love that can turn the lunar eclipse into a harsh judgement for Israel.
“There is no more abomination of the land than homosexuality,” Rabbi Glazerson said. “We need to do tshuva (repentance) for such a severe sin. The Torah warns us that this sin brings a lot of anger from heaven.”