Being in the TV news business, I’ve been preoccupied with this week’s solar eclipse. It not only makes for great TV (and price gouging on eclipse glasses), it also makes for a few Torah thoughts.
The ‘experts” call this an extraordinary cosmic coincidence. But is it? The sun is 400 times larger than the moon, but it’s also 400 times farther away. During a total eclipse, from the ground, the sun and moon will look almost identical in size. Time, space and motion will align perfectly. That’s no cosmic coincidence. It’s a gift from God and a reminder of who’s running this world.
They call it a solar eclipse, but it’s the moon that’s the star of the show. The moon will step in front of the sun and create darkness. A short time later, the moon will move aside and reveal light. Is it no wonder we Jews are likened to the moon? We too have the special ability to either create darkness or reveal light in the world. This eclipse is a wake-up call for all of us.
Seeing the moon and sun overlapping is a special reminder of what it means to be Jewish. We see this when you compare the world’s calendars. The common calendar goes strictly by the sun, which we know to represent chesed and kindness. That’s a very Christian concept. Love and kindness conquers all. Period. On the flip side, our Islamic cousins go strictly by the moon. It’s why Ramadan can be in the winter or the summer. The moon represents gevurah and discipline.
Now consider our calendar. Yes, we go by the moon. But we also add leap months to catch up with the sun. That not only keeps our holidays in the proper season but it offers a profound lesson: We value kindness and discipline equally. No doubt, we go by the book. (In fact, a whole lot of books). But we also know when to bend the rules. It’s the reason why we can break Shabbat to save a life. It’s also why an accidental drop of milk won’t necessary make your chicken soup non-kosher. Kindness. Discipline. Compassion. We’re a pretty balanced people.
Enjoy the eclipse. Don’t forget those special eclipse glasses. Equally important, don’t forget Who’s behind the celestial show and the lessons we can learn from it.