Perspective on the Eclipse

Robert LichtmanBy Robert Lichtman, Chief Jewish Learning Officer

Today’s solar eclipse offers us the rare opportunity to simply look up at the sky and whisper Wow! As humans, made of the same stuff that comprise the sun, the moon, and all the heavens, that sense of amazement has an impact upon us. Some of us may look up and feel tiny. Others may look up and swell with awe.

The Torah’s magnificent account of creation, the prelude to all that follows, has this to say about the sun and the moon: God made two great lights; the great one to dominate the day and the small to dominate the night…

The very same sentence refers to both orbs as great, yet in the same breath it refers to one as great and one as small. How can both statements be true?

The eclipse allows us to understand this. We know the sun is great – gargantuan, actually – compared to the Small moon. Turns out the sun is exactly 400 times larger than our moon. It also turns out the sun is exactly 400 times farther from the earth than the moon is. That is why the moon can glide across the face of the sun and block it out completely. 

So the Torah’s description is contradictory and it is also correct. From the vantage point of outer space, our sun is Great and our moon is Small. But from our perspective on earth, the sun and the moon are precisely the same size.

Here in our Federation, among our volunteers as well as among us as professionals, some have great titles while the titles of others appear smaller. That may matter from where we sit. But from the vantage point of our community who look at us – who look TO us – we succeed when we appear as one and the same. All of us sweating the small stuff that allows us to do great things.  Not once in a hundred years, but every day. That’s the Wow. At the end of the (solar) day, titles won’t matter, greatness and smallness are irrelevant.  We – as one – Build. We – as one – Care.  We – as one – Save.

Federation professionals take a break to check out the eclipse…


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