As many may have heard, tonight in Israel we will see the astrological phenomenon called a “supermoon” which takes place several times a year as the moon’s orbit comes closest to the earth causing the moon to look larger and brighter than usual. When this coincides with the full moon, it is known as a “supermoon”.
Now get this! The prophet Isaiah says “והיה אור הלבנה כאור החמה ואור החמה ואור החמה יהיה שבעתים כאור שבעת הימים ביום חבש ה’ את שבר עמו ומחץ מכתו ירפא”
“And the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times as strong, like the light of seven days, on the day that Hashem bandages the injury of His people and heals the wound of his blow.”
Now this is where it gets crazy!
Bonus radio show with Jeremy Gimpel:
The Shem Mishmuel, the second Sochochover rebbe, grandson of the Kotzker Rebbe, surprisingly understands the moon described in this verse as a result of decreased pollution(!):
“כי בזה”ז [בזה הזמן] אין אויר העולם פנוי מאדים ורוחות רעות… על כן אפילו בזמן שאין ליקוי מפאת הכוכבים וגוף הארץ מ”מ [מכל מקום] אין אורה מבהיק כ”כ [כל כך], וע”כ [ועל כן] אף שאצלנו נראה ונחשב שהלבנה בטהרתה, הוא רק מחמת שלא ראינוה מעולם באופן אחר. כי באמת איננה בטהרתה אלא כמבין עששית, ולעתיד לבוא שיסורו כל המסכים והאויר יהיה נקי והיה אור הלבנה כאור החמה”
“In our times, the air of the world is not clear of smoke and bad wind… therefore even when there is no eclipse due to the positions of the stars and the Earth, nonetheless the light [of the moon] is not so bright, and therefore even when to us the moon would appear to shine purely, it is only because we have never seen the moon any other way, and the moon is, in fact, not shining purely but rather as if behind a lamp. In the future, the screen will be removed, the air will be clean, and as a result, ‘the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun’.”
The Shem Mishmuel teaches that the change described by Yeshayahu will not be in the moon itself, but rather the air will be clean enough to see the moon as it actually is.
Interestingly, Yeshayahu also references a specific time in verse 29:
השיר יהיה לכם כליל התקדש חג
“The song will be yours like the night of the festival’s consecration”.
The only hint relating to time in this chapter mentions that this taking place on the first night of a holiday.
The sages of the Talmud, in Tractate Pesachim 93, specifically note that this verse refers to the first night of Passover, and the song is the Hallel recited on the Seder night.
Could there be any louder call for us to look more deeply into this chapter of Yeshayahu, than the prophet calling our attention to a particularly bright moon, on the first night of Pesach?!
I believe that this is not a coincidence, and that perhaps Hashem has given us a roadmap for these turbulent times, envisioned by Yeshayahu particularly for these very times, a Supermoon auspiciously seen more clearly that it has been for centuries, right at the night of the Seder.
In fact, when reading this prophecy, it seems to be speaking to the experiences we are having right at these moments, as we unite quietly with our families in our homes, as the economy is collapsing and we are facing dramatic changes in the lifestyles we have become accustomed to.
The prophet discusses the behaviors that will characterize the time of his vision.
(יען מאסכם בדבר הזה ותבטחו בעשק ונלוז תשענו עליו…אשר פתאום לפתע יבוא שברה” (ל:יב-יג”
“Therefore, thus said the Holy One of Israel: Since you have despised this word and you trusted in robbery and waywardness…whose collapse comes with quick suddenness”.
Later the prophet also discusses in verse 26, a time of הרג רב, בנפול מגדלים, a “day of great killing when great towers fall”.
The prophet describes a time where instead of trusting the word of Hashem, people trust in systems based on robbery and dishonesty, a system whose collapse will be very sudden. There will be many casualties, and the “towers” that we have come to depend on, will crumble to the ground.
Could there be a more precise description of our times, as we just a few weeks ago we were going to our jobs, buying our every desire, and all of the sudden, the world as we know it has come to a screeching halt? As we sit at home, trying to navigate this new life that has been brought upon us, seemingly out of nowhere, we may be wondering – how can we cope? How long will this last?
The Navi gives us words of guidance. In verse 15, he advises:
כי כה אמר ה’ א-לקים קדוש ישראל בשובה ונחת תושעות בהשקט ובבטחה תהיה גבורתכם
“For thus said my Lord, Hashem Elokim, the Holy One of Israel: In stillness and peacefulness will you be saved, in quiet and in confidence will be your might”.
Unlike the way we would normally envision an apocalyptic battle require courage in the form of might, the prophet teaches us that the might and bravery required by us in the special time he describes, is of a different nature, one of quiet confidence, stillness and peacefulness.
Over these last weeks, I believe that many are experiencing the feeling that I have been having, as if Hashem is bringing families closer, reopening our eyes to the beauty of simplicity and quiet, without the rat-race and breakneck pace of our former lives. Our courage, teaches the Navi, as we are home with our families and no longer immersed in materialism and consumerism, is to embrace this new quiet and peace. Hashem is working on us. He is doing something to our hearts. We just need to sit still and let the process transpire within us.
However, Yeshayahu warns, the longer we try to fight and resist what Hashem is doing to our hearts, the longer and more painful the process becomes.
ולא אביתם, ותאמרו לא כי על סוס ננוסץץץולכן יחכה ה’ חננכם ולכן ירום לרחמכם”
“You did not consent. And you said, “not so! We will flee on a horse, therefore you will flee… Therefore Hashem will delay in showing you grace, and therefore He will be aloof from showing you mercy.”
All around, I hear people asking “how long will this last?” and praying for it to end.
However the Navi guides us in a different way. The answer to the question “How long will this last?” is: AS LONG AS IT HAS TO! As long as it takes for the changes Hashem is making within us to take root. Resistance and hoping for it to end will only prolong the process. Like a patient in a delicate operation, writhing and resisting the surgeon will only complicate things, whereas calmly allowing and accepting the treatment will make for its swifter completion.
In light of this prophecy, I bless everyone with a Passover of peace and quiet acceptance. May we merit to have open hearts to the Teshuva, repentance, that these days are leading us towards. This Teshuva, I believe, will be the key to speedy healing of ourselves and the world.