Eclipse of the Sun but not of the Heart

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Eclipse of the Sun but not of the Heart

Aug 24, 2017

May I invite you to consider Adam’s point of view. Remember Adam? The very first human being, born into the Garden of Eden on the sixth day of creation. Adam loved the sun. He enjoyed its light and its warmth upon his skin. So you can imagine what happened when he experienced his first sunset. At first it must have been breathtaking for him—the variant colors in the sky as the day came to a close. But according to midrashic commentary on the Torah, once the sunset was complete Adam burst into tears. Where did that beloved ball of warmth and light go? Did I do something to cause it to leave? No human being had ever experienced a sunset before, so Adam assumed that it was gone forever.

Beautiful landscape with sunset


Imagine how thrilled Adam was the next morning when he saw the sun rise for the first time. He sang and danced and rejoiced! Adam marveled at the magnificence of the sun.

What if we felt that way each morning? What if we woke up in awe of the magical sun as if the sun’s very existence were a genuine miracle?

If you happened to be here at the Grancell Village Campus of the Los Angeles Jewish Home on August 21st around 10:00 a.m., then you witnessed that type of enthusiasm. The family of one of our residents was kind and thoughtful enough to bring multiple pairs of viewing glasses for our residents and staff. One by one people shared the glasses and gazed into the sky with wonderment and awe. News agencies reported that this went on all over the country. Millions of Americans stopped to watch.

I’m no scientist but I have got to say: what is the likelihood that the sun would be 400 times the size of the moon and also 400 times further away from the earth than the moon, so that this perfect encounter could occur? It’s amazing. And from a Jewish point of view, a solar eclipse can only take place on the eve of Rosh Chodesh, the Jewish holiday celebrating the new moon, the first of the month.

With the events that took place last week in Charlottesville, Virginia, many Americans felt a sense of hopelessness and even fear that we are sliding backwards in time, as if there has been an eclipse of the hearts of many of our people. But then so many came out of the woodwork during the week and on the weekend following, demonstrating against bigotry, against racism, against neo-nazism.

There has been an eclipse of the sun but not a “total eclipse of the heart.” Perhaps if we can all remember that we are all citizens of the earth, inhabitants of the same universe, all descendants from Adam and Eve, we will remember, as Jewish tradition teaches, that no one can say, “my lineage is better than yours.”

We are all one, warmed by the same sun.

Rabbi Karen Bender
Rabbi Karen Bender
Skirball Director of Spiritual Life
karen.bender@jha.org
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