As the horrific Hamas attack against Israel on Saturday captured the world’s attention, an event with dire prophetic implications took place with little fanfare’ a Ring of Fire solar eclipse passed over the United States.
The eclipse was visible along a path covering parts of the United States, Mexico and several countries in Central America and South America, beginning in Oregon at 9:13 a.m. PT (12:13 p.m. ET) and ending off the Atlantic coast of Brazil at 3:48 p.m. ET.
The next solar eclipse to pass over the US will be on April 8, 2024 when a total solar eclipse will pass over Mexico, the United States and Canada. .
An eclipse occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun when the three are aligned. If the moon is close to Earth, then the lunar disk will completely block the sun in an event called a total eclipse.
A ring of fire, referred to by astronomers as an annular solar eclipse, occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth while at its farthest point from the Earth. Hence the Sun appears as a very bright ring because the Moon doesn’t completely cover the Sun (like in a total eclipse) and instead leaves a bright border. This is, essentially, the opposite of a supermoon, when the moon is close to the earth making it appear larger. Sunday’s annular eclipse is especially rare as it comes in the summer.
The Earth’s orbit around the Sun is elliptical, making the Earth’s distance from the Sun vary throughout the year. This affects the apparent size of the Sun. When Earth is at its farthest distance from the Sun in early July, a total eclipse is somewhat more likely, whereas conditions favor an annular eclipse when Earth approaches its closest distance to the Sun in early January.
The solar eclipse was followed by a new moon that appeared Sunday night, emphasizing lunar dominance. New moons occur when the moon passes between the sun and Earth. As the Hebrew calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the appearance of the new moon marked Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the month of Cheshvan.
Astronomical phenomena are often discussed in Jewish literature as accompanying the Messiah. Jewish mysticism explains that this slight to the moon will be rectified at the end of days when the sun and the moon will be equal in both size and intensity.
In its discussion of eclipses, the Talmud (Sukkot 29a) specifically described solar eclipses as being a bad omen for the nations that base their calendars on the solar cycle. 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
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.
A solar eclipse can only occur because the sun and the moon appear to be the same in diameter as seen from the earth. This is due to a coincidence that is unique and has not been found anywhere else in the galaxy. Though the sun is about 400 times farther away than the moon, the sun is also about 400 times bigger. If the distances or sizes were different than they actually are, eclipses would not take place.
The Talmud relates to this, explaining why the sun and the moon appear to be the same size. The Talmud (Hulin 60b) discusses the seeming contradiction in the verse describing the creation of the sun and the moon.
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 made the moon shine less intensely, compensating the moon by commanding Israel to set the calendar by its cycles.
Rabbi Yosef Berger emphasized that as horrific as the attack was, it was undeniable a precursor to redemption.
“What they did to the Children of Israel is horrible and they will be judged by Hashem, of course,” Rabbi Berger said. “But the other nations will be judged by how they react, whether they call evil for what it is, or whether they confuse light and darkness by condemning Israel. The eclipse should have been a reminder that ultimate power lies with the armies of God which are the forces of nature. When he brings judgment, there is no hiding from Him or fighting against Him.”
“So many know this but try to deny it. They think they can control nature, they can stop the sun getting hotter or cooler.”
“The solar eclipse, the moon blocking out the sun, was a reminder that tiny Israel, like the gentle moon, will overcome the nations that appear to be powerful, who are dominated by the sun.”
“The Messiah from the House of David is like the moon which is hidden but suddenly appears on Rosh Chodesh. The Moshiach is in the world waiting to be revealed,” Rabbi Berger said. “It is like turning down the lights in a theater before the final act of the play begins.”
Rabbi Berger noted that the timing of the events was significant.
“This came after the Jews did 51 days of Tshuva (repentance) from Rosh Hashanna to Simchat Torah. This could not possibly have been a judgment against Israel. This was the nations trying to prevent the Jews from celebrating the Torah.”
The rabbi described a concept in Chassidus that is called hamtakat ha’dinim (sweetening of the judgments) which describes how difficult things are ultimately counted as meritorious.
“The sages teach that before any growth there has to be a contraction. Before a seed sprouts, the fruit must die and rot. This is especially true just before the geula (final redemption),” Rabbi Berger said. “What we just witnessed was a replay of Pharaoh throwing Jewish babies into the Nile. They attacked babies! Before the resurrection of the dead must come horrible things such as the war of Gog and Magog.”
“So many are focused on the arrival of the US president and the US navy in Israel . People are so confused that they are focusing on war. The United States sent their navy in order to prevent a war. How do you stop a war with weapons?” Rabbi Berger asked rhetorically. “It is like putting out a fire with gasoline. Moshiach will bring global peace, not through weapons, but through words of Torah from Zion. What people should be doing is praying for mercy, for kindness. They should be seeking leaders who know peace, who know Torah.”