The Talmud Says Eclipses Are a Bad Omen. Sorry.


Jews have a prayer for everything, from eating a new fruit to using the toilet. So what does the Talmud say about an eclipse?

“The Sages taught: When the sun is eclipsed it is a bad omen for the entire world.”

It’s been a rough couple weeks as it is. Are things really about to get even worse?

Sorry, but according to the Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Sukkah, 29b), yes. And while a lunar eclipse is especially bad for Jews, since Jews rely on the moon for their calendar, a solar eclipse is bad for everyone who follows a solar calendar, i.e. the one that says the eclipse is happening on August 21st.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe concluded that since the eclipse signals Divine displeasure, and the need for more prayer, no blessing should be said over it.

But Rabbi Joshua Heller writes: “Today, we understand that eclipses are natural, predictable phenomena…a predictable reflection of the Divine will that was manifested at the time of creation, rather than a specific, timely response to societal trends.” Therefore, he offers a couple options:

Either the one that blesses God “… who performs the work of creation,” or the one said over shooting stars, earthquakes, lightning, or violent winds, which blesses God: “…whose power and might fill the universe.”

Take your pick, or don’t. But in any event, don’t forget your special glasses.

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