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According to this page, Chaza"l intentionally omitted solar and lunar eclipses from the list of natural phenomena upon which we make a bracha. The following explanation is given:

"The Hebrew term for eclipse [is] LIKUI - defect. The Talmud states that a Likui of the Sun is a bad sign for the world; a lunar likui is a bad sign for Israel. Being associated with bad signs, the eclipse was not assigned a bracha. [...] During an eclipse, we witness the powerful, constant light and energy of the Sun being diminished. Or the light of a full Moon paling to a feeble glow. In both cases, we can read the chilling reminder that it is in G-d's Hands as to whether we live in light or suffer in darkness."

However, brachot are still made on earthquakes, thunderstorms, and winds strong enough to shatter stones and mountains. Surely these events are also chilling reminders that it is in G-d's Hands as to whether we live, suffer, or die. They threaten our individual, if not our collective existence, in a much more concrete way than any eclipse. Surely that much was known even in the time of our Sages.

So why make a bracha on these dangerous events, but not on an eclipse? Is the essential difference that the eclipse threatens our existence as a human race, whereas the others only threaten us as individuals? What of the fact that it is actually G-d, not the sun, Who gives us life?

EXTRA CREDIT: Why make a bracha on a rainbow but not on an eclipse? Rainbows are also considered a "bad omen," and yet we make a bracha on them. In 'light' of that fact, why don't we also make a bracha on an eclipse? Does it just come down to "Because Chaza"l said so?" (Thanks to Double AA for pointing out this aspect.)

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You can also ask about rainbows, which are also a 'bad omen' judaism.stackexchange.com/q/10065/759 –  Double AA Jun 6 '12 at 14:27
    
@Double AA, very good point. Separate question or here? (I worry about making my questions too multifarious as I have been called out on it in the past...) –  SAH Jun 6 '12 at 14:52
    
IMO you can add it in here. I you feel it belongs separately, then consider waiting for an answer here before posting another question, in case they end up having the same answer. –  Double AA Jun 6 '12 at 16:48
    
Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/10924/… –  SAH Jun 7 '12 at 13:45
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1 Answer

My own thoughts. Eclipses are predictable and can be calculated in advance to the moment where it will happen and when it will happen. However hurricanes and earthquakes, no one can predict that a hurricnane or earthquake will happen at this precise moment in a year from now.

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I'd have to assume Chazal weren't up 100% on the calculations (or at least didn't expect the people to be), because otherwise I find it hard to understand why they (or the people) thought it was a bad omen. –  Double AA Jun 6 '12 at 17:21
    
Followup question: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/16891 –  msh210 Jun 6 '12 at 18:51
    
So you think calculability would tend to imply we don't say a b'racha: do you fit that into that reason cited in the question (and if so then how), or are you differing with the latter? –  msh210 Jun 6 '12 at 18:54
    
@DoubleAA They most certainly did know how to calculate eclipses. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antikythera_mechanism –  avi Jul 7 '12 at 18:36
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