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Venus is transiting today for the last time until 2117 (or 5878, if you prefer). Is there a specific bracha that should be made upon witnessing this spectacular event?

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relate: –  Double AA Jun 5 '12 at 13:52
Will this be Too Localized tomorrow? –  Double AA Jun 5 '12 at 13:54
For any blessings to be said you would have to actually see the transit. If you are only looking at a projection on a screen or from a mirror that does not qualify as seeing it for the purposes of the laws of blessings. And with that I caution everyone to take proper eye safety precautions before attempting to look at the sun! –  Double AA Jun 5 '12 at 13:56
@DoubleAA Only maybe Too Localized if you think, chas veshalom, that Mi Yodeya won't still be around in 5878. Even with such pessimism, it'd still be no more Too Localized than, e.g. halachic questions about the behavior of historical figures. –  Isaac Moses Jun 5 '12 at 14:00
@AdamMosheh I strongly dispute that my logic implied that at all. A reflection or a projection on a screen is not the same as focusing light on your retina where you see the light directly. Glasses are fine IMO (as are most binoculars, refractive telescopes and microscopes). –  Double AA Jun 5 '12 at 14:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

A quick search of discussions on the web seems to point to there being no particular bracha and that Oseh Ma'aseh B'reishit is not called for, for a solar eclipse. As a kal vachomer, I would say that if there is nothing said for the still infrequent but more spectacular solar eclipse, then for the transit, why would there be? This site suggests other textual options at least as it relates to lunar eclipses -- and the kal vachomer could work from there with those psukim being said for other events.

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Thanks for the second link in particular; it's very good. It seems he's suggesting those workarounds for eclipses in general, not just lunar ones; and, as you say, they could easily be extended to this particular type of "eclipse." –  SAH Jun 5 '12 at 13:23
Also, I don't understand why Oseh Ma'aseh is acceptable for many kinds of dangerous/foreboding events (like a hurricane/lightning), but not for one in which the sun or moon is eclipsed? Can someone explain this to me? Should it be a separate question? –  SAH Jun 5 '12 at 15:51
@SAH, sounds like a separate question to me. –  msh210 Jun 5 '12 at 16:55

See my answer here regarding a modern dispute whether we can extend the scope of blessings to natural wonders not explicitly listed in the Talmud.

Regarding the transit itself: it would seem to fall into the possible exception I mention there regarding eclipses (where all agree there is no blessing) because when the Talmud discusses the fact that eclipses are a bad omen (Sukkah 29a), it discusses eclipses of the sun, the moon, and the מאורות-[heavenly] lights. Rashi there explicitly includes stars in this. As Venus is the brightest 'star' in the night sky, I submit that an "eclipse of Venus" (ie a transit) would also qualify as a bad omen, and would thus possibly not get a blessing even according to the more lenient opinion in my other answer.

This is just my idea. Please make sure to CYLOR sometime in the next 105 years before relying on anything you see here.

SAH correctly points out in that Venus is eclipsing the sun, not being eclipsed. However, I note that during the transit, Venus appears black against the larger bright sun, not affecting its total brightness (at least to the extent that we can notice). So in terms of which body is considered to be in ליקוי='diminished', it would seem that Venus is the one despite being in front of the sun.

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Good answer, but during the transit, Venus itself is not being eclipsed! Rather, it is (very partially) eclipsing the sun. So a fortiori I think your answer holds. –  SAH Jun 7 '12 at 13:43
@SAH See my edit. –  Double AA Jun 7 '12 at 15:42

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