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A Blessing for a Lunar or Solar Eclipse?

A Blessing for a Lunar or Solar Eclipse?


There are special blessings that we make whenever we witness particularly wondrous natural phenomena. Eclipses, however, are not listed among the wonders for which we make a blessing.

The Talmud tells us that a solar eclipse is a bad omen for the entire world, which runs according to the solar calendar, and a lunar eclipse is considered a bad sign for the Jewish nation, who calculate the duration of months according to the cycles of the moon.1 Thus the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, points out that eclipses should be opportunities to increase in prayer and introspection—as opposed to prompting joyous blessings.2 In fact, there are those who have the custom to fast after seeing a lunar eclipse, because it is a sign that we really could and should be doing better.

Now, you, I and the Jewish sages of old all have known for a very long time that eclipses are natural events that can be predicted thousands of years in advance. Thus we can be quite certain that their statement does not mean that eclipses are results of ill behavior. Rather, an additional result of the celestial positioning that causes an eclipse is that certain people are especially prone to sin and punishment. This is not unlike the Talmudic teaching that people born under certain Zodiac signs are likely to follow certain paths.3 These factors do not take away from free will, but they do give us a propensity that we can and must overcome.4

See Also


Sukkah 29a.


Igrot Kodesh 15:5579.


Shabbos 156a.


Likutei Sichot 15, 7.

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for
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Avi far rockaway October 23, 2017

Dear Rabbi Posner:
In your response, you do not answer my question. The question was: Can you provide proof of Talmudic knowledge that eclipses are predictable. You answered that Astronomy was important to Chazal (agreed). But your presumption that "In those days, this would apparently include the ability to predict an eclipse" is just that: a presumption. I am awaiting proof. Thank you. Reply

Avi Goldstein Far Rockaway August 21, 2017

Rabbi Posner,
Can you provide any proof that the Talmudic Sages knew that eclipses (lunar or solar) were predictable? Thanks. Reply

Menachem Posner October 22, 2017
in response to Avi Goldstein:

Hi Izzy,

Let's first accept it as a premise that astronomy was valued among the sages of the Talmud. One proof is the statement in Shabbat 75a that there is a mitzvah upon a person to calculate the movements of the stars and the changes of the seasons. In those days, this would apparently include the ability to predict an eclipse. Indeed, the Meiri (ad loc) specifically writes that it includes this knowlege. Reply

Izzy Kalman Israel July 20, 2017

The Eclipse: A sign from God to man that He exists I wrote an article about the eclipse that I think many readers will find fascinating. Please realize that it is meant for the general audience, not a religious Jewish one, which is why I refer to Hashem as Him/It. I hope it will increase reader's awe of Hashem's handiwork. To find it, do a search for A Possible Sign from God that He/It Exists. Reply

Jason Keller Florence, South Carolina. October 3, 2014

Astrology and Judaism If we as Jews follow a lunar calendar, wouldn't a lunar eclipse bring luck? Secondly, the sun sign mazel, would that be the same as leo. Elaborate more on astrology and Judaism. Especially with the sun/ascendent/moon. What does astrology mean in Judaism.

Yes, I may live in the south and yes I am Jewish 100% Reply

Michael David July 20, 2017
in response to Jason Keller:

The Torah doesn't speak of nor support the existence of "astrology"...and it certainly doesn't propagate the idea luck has anything to do with our past, present or our future.

What the Torah does support is Astronomy which is altogether different. Gypsies with crystal balls need not apply.

Eclipses are signs for the chosen people first and foremost. Why? Because they were given the written word that the celestial bodies were for signs. To whom much is given much is required. Knowing what these signs mean is to be shared with all mankind. Eclipses are never "good" signs for Israel, the Jews ...or for goy.

Michael David Reply

Baruch St. Louis January 7, 2011

Born under a certain sign - Shabbos 156a I have not looked at the g'morah for footnote 3 and there is probably more to it than the text itself. R' Posner translates "born under a certain sign." Is the g'morah speaking about the constellation (mozel) in which the sun is found (sun sign) or the constellation (mozel) on the horizon (ascendent/rising sign) at the time of a person's birth? Mozel tov! B'sha'ah tovah. Reply

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