The Chofetz Chaim and the Eclipse

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7 Responses

  1. Moshe Chaim Biron says:

    After reading the article a while back and noticing it lacked the date of the event, I had also done some research. The article mentions it was during the later years of the Chofetz Chaim (who was niftar in the year 1933), yet Reb Naftali Trop (who was niftar in the year 1928) was still the Rosh Hayeshiva at the time. This would imply that the eclipse took place in the mid-late 1920s. My conclusion was the same; the only eclipse during that time period which would fit the description would be the eclipse of June 29, 1927. This would also coincide with that which the article mentions that the eclipse occurred during the early morning hours on a Wednesday. However, the shortfall with this assumption is, that the article connotes that a total eclipse was visible in Radin. The eclipse of June 1927, although indeed being a total eclipse, totality was only visable from regions further north than Radin, such as Norway, Finland, and far-north parts of the United Kingdom. Radin (54.04°N,24.99°E) would have only seen a 75% blockage of the sun.

  2. David Ohsie says:

    @R Biron: Thank you for that research. I think that we can assume a fair amount poetic license here. The author seems to imagine the eclipse as a setting sun, turning redder as the totality approaches (whereas the Sun appears red near the horizon due to greater atmospheric scattering). Thus, the description of totality that was not actually visible is probably not fatal to your conjecture. The description of eye protection based on smoked glass appears to be accurate as described here:

    FWIW, here is a page with an animation of what the eclipse would have looked like from Radin (based on your coordinates):,24.99?iso=19270629

  3. Steve Brizel says:

    For those interested Sukkah 29 and the hashkafic consequences of a solar and lunar eclipse

  4. mycroft says:

    One has to read Gemarrah in context. In time of Gemarrah apparently non Jews followed Sun. Islam today follows a total lunar calendar. Christianity follows a hybrid, solar, but their holiest day follows lunar calendar and the days before and after are set by that day. We like the Chinese follow a solar/lunar calendar-lunar months but with leap months to keep months in same season.
    Not even getting into issue did they understand how a solar eclipse is formed.By the time of the Chafetz Chaim it was clearly known.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      There are many Drashos Chazal about Klal Yisraek being compared to the moon shich is never completely eclipsed nd the nation’s of the world being compared to the static appearance of the sun

    • dr. bill says:

      actually, christianity also follows a solar and lunar calendar in setting Easter. it is instructive to closely examine when the time of pesach and le’havdil easter diverge to understand completely the changes that occurred in the days of the amoraim.

      of course the greek orthodox follow an approximation that should be apparent to those who understand this issue; i hope to still be alive for the next birchat hachamah and look forward to what might be said.

  5. Wolf says:

    Slightly off topic but on the topics of eclipses, in Emes LYaakov on Nach it mentions how someone asked Rav Yaakov Kamanetsky about a society which claims to have historical records predating the Torah. He looked at the records and pointed out that they have to be false for the following reason: The records list every time there was an eclipse. Going back in time, every eclipse that was mentioned in a time period consistent with the Torah was also consistent with the cycle of eclipses whereas every eclipse mentioned before a time period consistent with the Torah wasn’t consistent with the cycle of eclipses. (eg Based on the eclipse cycle there would not have been an eclipse six and half thousand years ago on a given date. Yet the records claims there was)

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