As Jews perform the seder ritual on Passover, the moon overhead will appear as it did during the same ceremony the night before leaving Egypt and, as the Prophet Isaiah predicted, it will appear at the beginning of the final redemption.
On Wednesday night, Jews around the world will be gathering at home for the Passover seder (festive meal) ceremony first performed 3,332 years ago on the night before the Israelites left Egypt. One part of the ceremony requires opening the front door and inviting all who are hungry to enter. When this is done, a glance to the heavens will reveal an astronomical spectacle: the year’s largest supermoon.
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.
This will be the second month in a row that features a supermoon. Last month, a supermoon appeared on the holiday of Purim. This is not unexpected as both Purim and Passover occur in the middle of the Hebrew month, Purim on the 14th of Adar and Passover on the 14th of Nisan. The Hebrew calendar is lunar with the month beginning with the appearance of the new moon. Therefore, the full moon will always appear in the middle of the month.
The supermoon on Passover will be the fourth of the year and the largest, appearing when the moon is at a distance of 221,772 miles from the earth, the closest it will be all year.
Just as the first seder ritual was held in Egypt by families isolated in their homes while the angel of death roamed the streets of Egypt, the seder ritual, normally a time of festive gathering, will be held by families in isolation, shut in their homes while a deadly pandemic lurks outside.
Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel, co-founder of the Land of Israel Network, noted another similarity connecting this year’s special Passover to the Exodus and to the final redemption. Rabbi Gimpel cited the thirtieth chapter of Isaiah, in which the prophet gives a message for the final days, basing it in the first redemption that took the Jew out of slavery.
Rabbi Gimpel explained that this chapter refers to both the original Passover in Egypt as well as the final pre-Messiah holiday.
“There is a fixing that is happening now,” Rabbi Gimpel said. “We want to go back to Egypt. We don’t want to go out to freedom.”
Rabbi Gimpel again referred to the Prophet Isaiah.
And the light of the moon shall become like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall become sevenfold, like the light of the seven days, when Hashem binds up His people’s wounds and heals the injuries it has suffered. Isaiah 30:26
It should be noted that the moon on the night of the Passover Seder will be a full moon, the largest supermoon of 2020.
“We are so lucky to be here in Israel because we haven;t even seen the beginning of what this coronavirus might bring into the world,” Rabbi Gimpel said. “But as long as we are in Israel, the Jewish people will take care of each other.”