Message from Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman
This past Sunday night, after watching the stirring Patriots’ victory, Annie and I decided to stay up way past our bedtime to watch the “super blood wolf moon.” This dazzling show (which can also boast of having the greatest nickname for a scientific phenomenon ever!) was a total lunar eclipse, but with some notable additions. The sun and the moon were perfectly aligned, but on opposite sides of the earth. This meant that the moon would be completely covered by the earth’s shadow, taking on a glowing reddish tint (hence the name “blood moon”). The eclipse also occurred while the moon’s orbit was closest to the earth, and therefore the moon appeared abnormally large (a “super” moon). And finally, the January full moon – often the Jewish holiday of the trees, Tu B’Shevat – is also known as the “wolf” moon. A spectacular nickname for a celestial wonder.
The night was frigid, but with our Golden Retriever, Bernie, in tow, and cell phone cameras in hand, we braved the cold for this heavenly glimpse. I must confess that witnessing a red moon felt surreal, as if the laws of nature – the immutable, unchanging rhythms of our little corner of the universe – were suddenly in doubt. But of course, I knew that nothing had changed at all. A large red moon was a phenomenon of light, shadow and positioning in the sky. So why all the fuss?
Perhaps the size and color of a super blood wolf moon teaches us not to be in awe of its singularity, but rather to be in awe of the moon on every night. Rather than taking the timeless presence of the sun and the moon for granted, we can instead offer our humble gratitude for being one small part of God’s vast creation. Perhaps when we recognize the miracle of our existence, we will also recognize the obligation of caring for the Earth, so that it may continue to give us life and sustain us. Indeed, the miracle of this super moon cannot be found in its size or its color. The miracle is that we can gaze upon it and revere God’s magnificent creation. Shabbat shalom.