On the roof, awe, omens and humility

By Hila Machmali, Web Editor-in-Chief


BP Video Courtesy of Hila Machmali

Most of Shalhevet’s faculty and about 15 incoming ninth-graders gathered on the roof at 10:15 a.m. Monday, let out of their respective meetings and classes for a brief viewing of the nationwide solar eclipse. To the naked eye, the eclipse — which covered about 70 percent, according to the Griffith Park Observatory —  of the sun here — had no effect on the sunny California day, but once each person got a chance to view the sun safely, they stood in awe and urged their peers to experience it with them.

Protective glasses were passed around so that each person could watch the sun safely. In addition, Gemara teacher Ms. Atara Segal had configured a cardboard box to block the vision-damaging UV rays exerted by the sun;it projected a small, bright image of the moon’s passing over the sun onto the cement pavers in the lunch area, so that even those without the glasses could watch easily.

New Judaic Studies teacher Rabbi Abraham Lieberman said solar eclipses, which occur when the moon passes between the earth and the sun during daytime, are controversial in Jewish thought.

“Solar eclipses are mentioned in the Talmud and are viewed as a bad omen,” Rabbi Lieberman said, “although there are also some rabbis that will explain a solar eclipse to be showing God’s perfection — a way to humble us and remind us that God is there.”

Rabbi Lieberman also said that the because some view it as a negative sign, there are different opinions on whether or not a bracha should be said. A handful of those viewing this week’s event said the blessing, which thanks God for renewing creation.