Braid the Parashah

Solar Eclipse 2024

Is there a blessing for seeing a solar eclipse? 

Of course there is! In fact, there is more than one option but here’s the one that resonates most with me:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יהוה אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם שֶׁכֹּחוֹ וּגְבוּרָתוֹ מָלֵא עוֹלָם

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, shekocho ug’vuratoh malay olam.

Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the Universe, whose strength and glory fills the world.

This blessing is designated not only for a solar eclipse but for any significant, or unusual, natural phenomenon.  

It is not surprising that our ancestors had a decent amount to say about solar eclipses… We know now that solar eclipses have been occurring since the biblical period, and so of course our ancestors tried to make sense of them in whatever way they could. At times, they expressed the idea that a solar eclipse occurred when God was punishing the people for a variety of sins.  At other times, the appearance of a solar eclipse was a bad omen… prophesying a calamity that was sure to befall either the Jewish people or their enemies.  

Today we understand that a solar eclipse is not divine punishment or retribution… but rather a significant and unusual natural phenomenon. And the more we learn about science, the more we truly understand how significant and unusual it is. What are the chances that the size of the moon and the size of the sun, and their distance apart from each other and earth would all happen to align in a way that would even make the possibility of this phenomenon a reality! 

It is truly astounding, and so even if you don’t believe that God is responsible, it is nearly impossible to understand and experience this phenomenon in a way that doesn’t invite an expression of wonder and awe. A blessing is indeed worthy of the moment and so as we pray for clear skies, we do so by offering thanks that we are alive and living in an area where we can experience even a part of this unique moment in history.

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