Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Nasa’s website reports that on Monday, August 21, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun:

“Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – can be seen, will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.”


Indeed cities in this line are preparing for record tourists who they anticipate will want to witness this “awe inspiring sight.”

But will they understand why it is indeed awe inspiring?

The Gemara in Sukkah (29a) says that a solar eclipse is a sign of grave things coming to the world. The Gemara offers the following parable: This can be compared to a human king who made a feast for his subjects, and placed a lantern before them. When he became angry with them, he told his servant, “Take away the lantern from before them, and place them in darkness!”

The explanation is clear: Hashem is the King, we are the subjects and the sun is the lantern. Removing the light and making people sit in darkness is a form of punishment. Thus the awe-inspiring sight of a solar eclipse is in fact intended to inspire awe; namely that we, subjects of the King of Kings, have not found favor in His eyes.

The Gemara continues and quotes a Braisa that cites four possible things that can cause a solar eclipse: a head of a beis din that died and was not properly eulogized; a betrothed girl who cried out in the city for someone to save her and no one came to her rescue; for mishkav zachor; and for two brothers who were murdered simultaneously. Rashi on the Gemara says he does not know what connection any of these things has to the sun. However, be that is it may, they do have a connection, and for any of these things the sun can become eclipsed, denoting an ominous sign.

Of the travesties listed in the Gemara the one that is most obviously becoming more rampant is mishkav zachor. Liberals across the world have corrupted societies and infiltrated them with these disgusting behaviors and demanded tolerance towards these actions. Regretfully they have intruded and invaded our holiest city. Jerusalem now hosts a parade for these sick people. Sadly it should be pointed out that the parade only marches in West Jerusalem, for in East Jerusalem they would likely be stoned. Why must we have so much tolerance for an act that the Torah considers a capital offence, and is classified by the Torah as an abomination?

Regarding the other sins on the list I would suggest that the betrothed girl who cried out in the city for someone to save her and no one came to her rescue could refer to anyone who is helpless in any situation and cries out for help yet no one stands up for them.

The sin of head of a beis din that died and was not properly eulogized could refer to a general lack of respect for Torah scholars. Or perhaps it is simply the perversion of justice administered in Israel and around the world. If I could name a few, Elor Azariya will begin serving his 18-month sentence on the manslaughter conviction on Wednesday, 17th of Av for killing a terrorist who may or may not have been already fatally shot but was clearly still attempting to cause further damage. And in another instance, despite calls for the death penalty, the military prosecutor will not be seeking the death penalty for the terrorist charged with the murders of members of the Solomon family Hy”d of N’vei Tzuf. So instead of ridding the world of this monster, Israel will treat him, heal him, educate him, feed him, nurture him, and one day release him only to commit Rachmana litzlan another attack!

In the United States, Jonathon Pollard is still being treated unfairly, Shalom Rubashkin is still in jail, Hilary Clinton is still not in jail, and a special council has been appointed to investigate the current US President for crimes that we have no basis for assuming. Nearly all of the (impartial) lawyers who he has hired to help with this effort have contributed heavily to Hilary Clinton’s campaign. A travesty of justice indeed.

Going back to the Solomon family, while this was not two brothers who were murdered simultaneously, it was a father, a son, and a sister.

I was bothered by the statement of the Gemara. Don’t the orbits of these celestial bodies set up a solar eclipse on a natural occurrence? How can this be an ominous sign? Indeed Rav Yonason Eibshitz in Yaros Dvash says that the Gemara is not referring to an eclipse; rather there are times when the sun’s power is weakened and it does not produce as much. However others learn that it is in fact referring to an eclipse. The sefer Igra D’kala suggests that although there is a natural path that the heavenly bodies follow, nevertheless they were all created to serve people. And if we were not angering our King, the sun and the moon would change the course of natural law and prevent an eclipse. He asks, if an eclipse were scheduled to occur when Yehoshua held the sun in its place, would it have occurred? Definitely not! We see that we have the power to change natural law, and the fact that it isn’t changed is an ominous sign.

Perhaps on August 21 the news stories will be reporting how scientists are baffled as to why there was no eclipse. But if that is not the case we should be awe inspired and fix our ways.


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Rabbi Fuchs learned in Yeshivas Toras Moshe, where he became a close talmid of Rav Michel Shurkin, shlit”a. While he was there he received semicha from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, shlit”a. He then learned in Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, and became a close talmid of Rav Shmuel Berenbaum, zt”l. Rabbi Fuchs received semicha from the Mirrer Yeshiva as well. After Rav Shmuel’s petira Rabbi Fuchs learned in Bais Hatalmud Kollel for six years. He is currently a Shoel Umaishiv in Yeshivas Beis Meir in Lakewood, and a Torah editor and weekly columnist at The Jewish Press.