The Gemara in Succah 29a says that solar eclipses are bad omens for the nations, while lunar eclipses are bad omens for the Jews. The Gemara compares an eclipse to a king who leaves his guests sitting in the dark: not everyone can be left in the dark during an eclipse, as the eclipse cannot cover the entire Earth at once.

Does this apply to all eclipses? Perhaps a total eclipse is a worse sign than a partial, like a king turning off the lights versus dimming them?

What about the location? For instance, this August's solar eclipse crosses the continental US. Does that mean Americans should be worried, while Europeans are okay? In fact, it's impossible for the King to leave everyone in darkness if He abides by the laws of astrophysics: the moon has to be directly between the viewer and the sun, and the necessary angle changes based on where one stands.

  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/16891/759
    – Double AA
    Jul 24, 2017 at 19:19
  • Do any of the meforshim explain explicitly the gemarra as referring to eclipses? If not, won't it be hard to find the answer if Chazal differentiated between full and partial eclipses?
    – robev
    Jul 25, 2017 at 3:51
  • @robev Please, enlighten me (pun intended). How else do you interpret the "sun being darkened," as Rashi puts it, or the parable of the king removing his lantern?
    – DonielF
    Jul 25, 2017 at 3:53
  • @DonielF I previously showed you an alternative explanation to eclipses, and you said you wanted an answer based on eclipses...I'm just saying it's not the only way to read the gemarra and I'm wondering if anyone says explicitly that it is. I agree it's the simple reading.
    – robev
    Jul 25, 2017 at 3:56

1 Answer 1


The gemara in Sukah (29a) does mention that location matters. If the eclipse occurs when the sun/moon are in the west (as explained by Rashi) then it is a bad omen for those in the west.

לוקה במזרח - סימן רע ליושבי מזרח, במערב - סימן רע ליושבי מערב, באמצע הרקיע - סימן רע לכל העולם כולו.

רש"י: לוקה במזרח - בבקר, כשהחמה במזרח. באמצע הרקיע - בחצות היום, כשעומדת בראש כל אדם.

  • 1
    That line is certainly relevant, but I'm not sure whether your translation is accurate. Does לוקה במזרח mean that it was stricken in eastern countries, and if it's eclipsed overhead (overhead where?) it's a bad sign for all? Or does לוקה במזרח mean that it's an annular eclipse with only the eastern side of the sun eclipsed, and באמצע הרקיע means it's entirely blocked? Also notice the parable the Gemara gives: a king who left his guests in the dark. Well, He's not leaving everyone in the dark. It's a physical impossibility for everyone to see the same eclipse.
    – DonielF
    Jul 25, 2017 at 3:45
  • @DonielF see Rashi's commentary (added to the answer)
    – user8726
    Jul 25, 2017 at 5:07
  • @DonielF "Or does לוקה במזרח mean that it's an annular eclipse with only the eastern side of the sun eclipsed, and באמצע הרקיע means it's entirely blocked?" No. it does not mean that. The Baraisa is pretty clear that were dealing with east and west of the world!
    – Bach
    Jul 25, 2017 at 13:32
  • "Morning" and "afternoon" are subjective, based on where one stands. כשעומדת בראש כל אדם, as I mentioned in my edit to my post and my above comment, is a physical impossibility, and Chazal definitely knew there were people in places besides where they were.
    – DonielF
    Jul 25, 2017 at 15:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .