Meteor explosion over northern Israel has people looking to the heavens

Before the great and terrible day of Hashem comes,* I will set portents in the sky and on earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke;




(the israel bible)

April 16, 2023

3 min read

A meteor exploded over northern Israel in an astronomical event that was heard all over the country on Saturday afternoon, at around 5:16 PM. The airburst was reported by the Israeli Astronomical Association. 

The IAA described it as a bolide, meaning an exceptionally bright meteor. The light is caused by the ionized atmosphere, heated up by the meteor’s impact.

“Meteors are observed every night, but seeing one from an inhabited place, in daylight, and over Israel is very rare,” Igal Pat-El, a member of the International Astronomical Union, said about the event. “No debris has been found, and it is likely nothing survived the trip to the ground.” 

Dr. David Polishook, an asteroid expert at the Weizmann Institute of Science, told the Jerusalem Post that the meteor was likely one meter in diameter based on his own observations of images and video taken.

“It’s larger than a common meteor, but smaller compared to the Chelyabinsk event,” Polishook told the Jerusalem Post.

In fact, major meteor impacts are rare, but they have occurred with dramatic results in recent years. The Tunguska Event in 1908 flattened 2,000 square kilometers of Siberian forest. More recently, in February 2013, the Chelyabinsk meteor, weighing approximately 12,000 metric tons, exploded over Russia, injuring 1,500 people and damaging 7,200 buildings. The meteor went undetected before it exploded.

Meteors were already known to the Talmudic sages. In the tractate of Berachot (58b), Shmuel said, “The paths of the sky are as clear to me as the paths of my city, Neharde’a, except for comets, that I do not know what they are.”

He then explained that a comet would be the harbinger of the end-of-days.

“We learn through tradition that a comet does not pass the Orion constellation, and if it does pass Orion, the world will be destroyed.”

Indeed,  a potentially apocalyptic meteor is one of the pre-Messianic astronomical signs described in Jewish sources. The Zohar describes the appearance of many unusual stars.

“After forty days, when the pillar rises from earth to heaven in the eyes of the whole world and the Messiah has appeared, a star will rise up on the east, blazing in all colors, and seven other stars will surround that star. And they will wage war on it.”

The Bible contains a prophecy of a star signaling the arrival of the Jewish Messiah.

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh; there shall step forth a star out of Yakov, and a scepter shall rise out of Yisrael, and shall smite through the corners of Moab, and break down all the sons of Seth. Numbers 24:17

Rabbi Moses ben Maimon cited this verse about the Star of Jacob as proof of the Messiah, emphasizing that it will come from Jacob, i.e. the tribe of Judah and his descendants the Jews, and not Esau or Edom. Known by the acronym Rambam, he was the foremost Torah authority of the 12th century whose rulings are still used as the basis for much of Jewish law.

The appearance of this pre-Messianic star is predicted to be catastrophic, accompanied by extreme natural disasters. The Vilna Gaon, an 18th-century Jewish scholar, stated that the power of this star system could destroy the world. Ovadia explained that this may not be caused by the star colliding with the Earth but rather by God exerting his influence on global weather events via the star.

The tractate of Horayot (10a) related that Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua were traveling together on a ship but Rabbi Yehoshua, a renowned expert in astronomy, packed extra food for the journey. The journey took much longer than expected and Rabban Gamliel was forced to rely on Rabbi Yehushua’s food. When asked how he knew this would be the case, Rabbi Yehushua explained:

“There is one star that rises once in seventy years and misleads sailors at sea, causing their journeys to be extended,” Rabbi Yehoshua said.

This ‘star’ is believed to have been Halley’s Comet which is visible from Earth every 75–79 years.

The Jewish historian Josephus recorded that a comet, also believed to have been Halley’s, was seen during Pesach in 66 CE. Josephus wrote that “a star resembling a sword stood over the city; a comet persisted for a long time.” He noted that it was taken as a good omen by those who started the Jewish rebellion against the Romans which lasted until the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

Sixty-two years later another rebellion was led by Simon ben Koseba who changed his name to Bar Kochba, meaning” the son of the star” in Aramaic. Many Jews at the time (including the Talmudic sage, Rabbi Akiva) considered Bar Kochba as a possibly messianic figure, hence the name change.

In any case, Jews are commanded to recite a blessing upon seeing comets that praises God “whose strength and power fill the world.”

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