There is a general prohibition on depicting and/or owning depictions of celestial bodies, such as the sun and moon (see, e.g., the Rambam Hilkhoth Avoda Zara 3:18). Nonetheless, there are opinions that permit partial depictions (see, e.g., Shach YD141:25, Neharei Afarsamon YD 118, and Darkhei Teshuva 141:40 cited here). Would this include full depictions of an eclipse? For example, is one allowed to photograph and/or own a photograph of an eclipse?


Permissibility of images of celestial bodies

What can a Jew draw?


4 Answers 4


In the site Din it says that one may photograph an eclipse for study but not for pleasure. They base this on Shevet Halevi, vol. 7, 134, Qs 6-9 and Shut Aveni Yishfeh, vol. 1, 151.


Either way, it would be problematic during totality as you are photographing the complete moon in front of the sun, though the issue may only be in printing or developing the picture.

  • Except at totality, there isn't a complete circle visible for the moon or the sun, so this answer wouldn't apply. Even during the partial phase, you can't see the moon. It's just black space. Are you telling me that a black circle is forbidden to print because the moon sometimes looks black?? Is it forbidden to draw a circle on a white piece of paper because the sun is a white circle??
    – Double AA
    Aug 23, 2017 at 22:07
  • 2
    If that's what you're trying to depict, then that would be a problem regardless.
    – Zvi
    Aug 23, 2017 at 22:08
  • How do you know your last comment is true? How do you know it depends on intent?
    – Double AA
    Aug 23, 2017 at 22:09
  • ...and source?? Jan 23, 2019 at 21:48

In the question - "Nonetheless, there are opinions that permit partial depictions (see, e.g., Shach YD141:25, Neharei Afarsamon YD 118, and Darkhei Teshuva 141:40 cited here)."

A little farther down in that link I found -

May one draw a picture of a forbidden form, or take/develop the picture from a camera?

It is forbidden to draw the above forms in a complete way, as stated above in B. Accordingly, it would be forbidden to take or develop a picture of the sun, moon or stars unless it is being done for educational purposes. Those however who are lenient in this matter have upon whom to rely.[29]

[29] As a) Some Poskim rule a mere drawing is permitted. b) One is not actually drawing the picture and is simply having the camera do so for him based on his command. Now, although this is a classical case of Kocho, which is forbidden, nevertheless, when added to the previous reason it seemingly carries greater leniency.

So it would seem that in regard to the question of "is one allowed to photograph and/or own a photograph of an eclipse?" That there is room to be מקיל.


The Gemara in question is AZ 43a-b, which brings from the pesukim of לא תעשון אתי in Shemos 20:20 and לא תעשה לך...כל תמונה אשר בשמים ממעל in Ibid. v. 4 that various servants of HaShem, including the sun, moon, stars, and planets, are forbidden to be drawn or for their images to be served. Says the Gemara there, 43b:

טבעת שחותמה בולט אסור להניחה ומותר לחתום בה חותמה שוקע מותר להניחה ואסור לחתום בה

A signet ring (with an image on it) whose signature protrudes (and therefore makes an indentation when pressed) - you cannot wear it but you can press with it. If the signature is indented (and therefore makes a protrusion when pressed) - you may wear it, but you may not press with it.

Translation follows Rashi, who explains that if the symbol protrudes - either from the ring or the signature - it is forbidden, but if it doesn’t, it is permissible.

Thus, a photograph is okay, even of the entire sun, as it doesn’t protrude.

  • 1
    How is the OP's question not a dupe of the above link? Or, if not a dupe, that one seems to answer the question directly
    – DanF
    Aug 23, 2017 at 19:47
  • Why was this downvoted? This seems to me to sufficiently answer the question.
    – DonielF
    Aug 23, 2017 at 22:15
  • 1
    @donie it wasn't me, but there's no evidence in this answer that we rule like this gemara quote, and the question is tagged halacha. Perhaps editing in such a source would help.
    – Double AA
    Aug 23, 2017 at 23:08

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