On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible within a band across the entire contiguous United States; it will only be visible in other countries as a partial eclipse. Some Jews will be joining a kosher tour to the Path of Totality in St. Joseph, Missouri. You can read about it here. Hotel and meals are included.

That said, most Jews will not be traveling to Missouri but will still be captivated by the event and would be interested in attending a class about this rare occurrence. Rabbis and Jewish educators can utilize several resources addressing solar eclipses. Rabbanan.org offers a comprehensive shiur outline by Rabbi Joshua Flug entitled, Jewish Perspectives of Solar Eclipses (requires log-in credentials).

The site also features a fascinating memoir by a talmid of the yeshiva in Radin, R. Shmuel Pliskin, who recounted how he fashioned special glasses for the Chofetz Chaim to observe a solar eclipse. The Chofetz Chaim in fact delivered a derasha to the yeshiva explaining the significance of the eclipse.

Rabbi Tzvi Pittinsky, a rebbe and director of EdTech at The Frisch School in New Jersey has put together a great source sheet that can be used by rabbis and educators to teach their students and congregants about the upcoming total solar eclipse.

The source sheet comes complete with maps, Hebrew-English translations and videos. You can download it here and read more about Jewish perspectives of Solar Eclipses and other Natural Phenomena in Tanach on his blog where he discusses questions such as: What is the only event mentioned in Tanach whose time of occurrence can be verified scientifically to the second? 

 UPDATED August 15th: 

See also Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky’s explanation in Emes L’Yaakov about the significance of solar and lunar eclipses as “laws of nature” (Thank you Rabbi Akiva Males for bringing this to my attention).



Other resources:

The Solar Eclipse: A Jewish Message by Rabbi Benjamin Blech

Solar Eclipses in Judaism by Rabbi Gil Student


 UPDATED August 16th: 

Rabbi Avigdor Miller on solar eclipses:

The gemara says that a solar eclipse is a sign of ill fortune for the gentiles. (A lunar eclipse is a sign of ill fortune for Jews.) So this gentleman asks, rightly, how can it be a sign of ill fortune if it happens according to mathematical precision? And the answer is as follows.

Any change in the fortunes of the world is foreseen by Hashem. Nothing happens by itself. Hashem ordains when some good fortune should happen to the world, or chalila when some misfortune should happen, and He makes it turn out on certain auspicious dates. When He plans a misfortune for the umos haolam (nations of the world), He makes it happen at the time of a solar eclipse. A solar eclipse is to let you know that this is planned by Hashem and it’s not an accident.

Let’s say at the time of a solar eclipse something happens in far off country like Tibet where there are no Jews. You shouldn’t say that one thing has nothing to do with the other. The reason that it happened then was to bring your attention to it and make you aware that Hashem is in charge of the world. He made it turn out at the time of the solar eclipse…

Rabbi Avigdor MillerTherefore, it’s not that the solar eclipse is made to happen at a time of some misfortune to the gentiles, the misfortune to the gentiles is made to happen at the time of the solar eclipse. Why? In order to label it, to let us know that it’s the yad (hand of) Hashem. – Abraham and Lot (#046)



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