The Biblical plague of darkness will be dramatically replayed next week when a rare solar eclipse transits across the full width of the United States. This astronomical phenomenon, unique in the entire solar system, is described in ancient Jewish sources which one rabbi interprets as a divine warning specifically targeting the United States.
On August 21, a total solar eclipse will mark a trail from the Northwest US to the Southeast Atlantic Seaboard. The eclipse will occur on the last day of the Hebrew month Av, a day known as Yom Kippur Katan, the “small day of repentance.” The morning after the eclipse, Jews will begin blowing the shofar every morning for a 40-day period of profound repentance leading up to Yom Kippur. This corresponds to the 40 days Moses was on Mount Sinai atoning for the Jewish people.
The upcoming eclipse is exceedingly rare and viewed from a larger perspective, the heavenly bodies are creating a picture that clearly has divine import. Though it has been 99 years since an eclipse travelled the length and breadth of the US, the next such occurrence will be in just seven years. On April 8, 2024, another total solar eclipse will transverse North America, but the visible path will go in the opposite direction, passing from the Northeast to the Southwest.
The paths of the two eclipses form a transcontinental ‘X’. In a strange coincidence, the only spot in the path of both eclipses, receiving a double-dose of this modern plague of darkness, and the point of the longest duration for both eclipses, is a part of southern Illinois known, appropriately enough, as Little Egypt.
Just as the original plague of darkness was meant as a warning to Egypt, Rabbi Lazar Brody, an American-born Hasidic rabbi and teacher, understands this present-day manifestation to be a divine message.
“In Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), the sun represents the nations of the world, and the moon represents Israel,” Rabbi Brody told Breaking Israel News. “This eclipse is only over the United States. That is a shout from above, saying, ‘America, get your act together, Come back to the Almighty and cast away all your legalization of what the Torah calls abominations’.”
Rabbi Brody explained that the message implicit in an eclipse is that God’s light has not been extinguished.
“Through man’s actions, God’s influence in the world is being hidden in a state of hester panim (hiding God’s face),” Rabbi Brody explained.
Rabbi Brody quoted the Talmud (Succah 29a) which states that if an eclipse appeared in the West, it is a sign that idol worship has prevailed.
“Idol worship isn’t only bowing down to idols. In the US, there are people who worship homosexuality and perversion, one of the reasons the Talmud states for a solar eclipse.”
The divine significance of the event is emphasized by the fact that as far as scientists can discern, solar eclipses are unique to planet Earth. Ira Machefsky, an amateur astronomer with 60 years of experience, explained this unlikely confluence of circumstances.
“The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun but they appear to be the same size in the sky,” Machefsky explained to Breaking Israel News. “But the moon almost precisely blocks out the sun when it passes between the sun and the earth. This is because the sun is approximately 400 times further away from the earth than the moon.”
Though a man of science, Machefsky sees the Hand of God in this unique placement of the sun and moon.
“No other planet in our solar system has solar eclipses because the odds of this happening precisely as it does on Earth are so infinitesimally small,” Machefsky explained. “Scientists have yet to discover another planet that has solar eclipses. They call this Earth’s ‘grand coincidence’, but I call it ‘the causal proof of the existence of God’.”
Machefsky explained that the moon is moving away from the Earth at the rate of one centimeter every year, and in the future, the moon will appear smaller in the sky, making solar eclipses a thing of the past.
“Eventually, there won’t be solar eclipses,” Machefsky said. “This unique phenomenon will disappear from the universe.”
Though the nation of Israel is unaffected by the upcoming solar eclipse, spiritually and celestially, stargazers in Israel were treated to a partial lunar eclipse just one week ago. Since the moon is the heavenly body that represents Israel, Rabbi Brody understood that as bearing a message for the Jews.
“This lunar eclipse said to me that there is a blemish in the faith of the Jews,” Rabbi Brody said. “And I am not talking about the non-religious. The religious Jews need to repent even more. Faith and mitzvot (Torah commandments) lift us above the stars. When we cling to Hashem above, we don’t have to worry about what’s happening in the world below.
“But when Jews cling to the ways of the American lifestyle,” Rabbi Brody warned, “We lose that connection with Hashem (God).”