On Thursday night, November 18-19, a partial lunar eclipse will be visible throughout North America. But not just any eclipse. It will be the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century, according to NASA, lasting 3 hours and 28 minutes.
A lunar eclipse takes place when the earth is between the sun and the moon, and the moon passes through the earth’s shadow. In this case, the earth’s shadow will block out 97% of the moon’s surface. The eclipse will be a “blood moon”, the result of atmospheric conditions that give the moon a reddish tint rather than black when it moves into the shadow. The red color comes from some of the sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere where it gets bent and colors like blue or green are filtered out, leaving behind longer wavelengths like the color red.
The upcoming eclipse will be visible throughout most of North America, as well as eastern Russia, Japan, the Pacific Ocean, Mexico, Central America, and parts of western South America. On the West Coast of the US, the eclipse will begin to be visible just after 11 PM, with a maximum at 1 AM. On the East Coast, the partial eclipse begins a little after 2 a.m., reaching its maximum at 4 in the morning.
There will be 228 lunar eclipses this century, between 2001 and 2100. Most years will have two while some years will experience three or four. This will be the second of 2021, the last one, a total eclipse, taking place in May.
The eclipse will coincide with the full moon. The November full moon is also called the full frost moon, sometimes called a full beaver or dark moon. The frost moon is the last full moon of autumn.
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Rabbi Mordechai Genuth discussed the meaning of eclipses in Jewish tradition. Rabbi Genuth explained that under normal circumstances, lunar eclipses are considered a bad omen for Israel. This is based on a section in the Talmud (Sukkot 29a) that specifies that lunar eclipses are a bad omen for Israel since Israel is spiritually represented by the moon. If the lunar eclipse takes place in the east side of the heavens, then it is a bad omen for all the nations in the east, and similarly, if it occurs in the western hemisphere of the sky, it is a bad sign for all the nations in the west.
“In the time of the Talmud, only Israel set the calendar according to the moon,” Rabbi Genuth said. “Setting the calendar according to the sun was the practice of the idolaters, like Rome which named the solar months and days after pagan gods. Today, the Muslims set their calendar according to the moon, even more than the Jews, in a manner that leads their calendar to be imbalanced. So a lunar eclipse is closely connected to the Muslims and, in this case, is a warning for the Arabs.”
“The eclipse will pass over the United States,” Rabbi Genuth said. “The new President is connecting his fate with that of the Arabs, choosing them over Israel. He is choosing war, the wars that originate in Ishmael, the wars that are presaged by the upcoming blood moon.”
Rabbi Genuth made one disclaimer; at the end of the section of the Talmud describing the omens contained within eclipses, the Talmud states: “When Israel does the will of the place (God), they have nothing to fear from all of this,” citing the Prophet Jeremiah as a source.
Thus said Hashem: Do not learn to go the way of the nations, And do not be dismayed by portents in the sky; Let the nations be dismayed by them! Jeremiah 10:2
Rabbi Genuth referred to the recent pressure by the Biden administration to open a consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem.
“This is also a warning to the Israeli government,” Rabbi Genuth said. “They need to be strong when it comes to Jerusalem.”
He explained that the name of Jerusalem is rooted in the Hebrew word “Shalem” (complete) which is a reference to the sun which, unlike the moon, does not go through phases.
“Jerusalem is eternal and must remain eternally whole,” Rabbi Genuth said.
The rabbi also noted a prophecy in the Book of Joel states that the coming of the Messiah will be preceded by a blood moon.
Before the great and terrible day of Hashem comes, I will set portents in the sky and on earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke; The sun shall turn into darkness And the moon into blood. But everyone who invokes the name of Hashem shall escape; for there shall be a remnant on Mount Tzion and in Yerushalayim, as Hashem promised. Anyone who invokes Hashem will be among the survivors. Joel 3:3-5
“We are indeed close to the end of days so these astronomical signs are taking on increased importance,” Rabbi Genuth said.