Lunar Observations in Rosh Hashanah

The Daf Yomi cycle just finished studying Masechet Rosh Hashanah. Mazal tov to all those who have completed this study! In Masechet Rosh Hashanah observations of the Moon play a very significant role. A major topic of study in this tractate is how the ancient Jewish “calendar” worked. In fact, it was not really a…

Shavuot, Philo, Astronomy and Pythagoreans

The first century CE Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria, in glowing terms, describes the holiday of Shavuot and its underlying reasons based on mathematics – and astronomy!

The Menorah and Planets

Chanukah is an opportune time to share this interesting midrash about the Menorah and planets…

HaAdam Al HaYareach (Man on the Moon) Part 4

In 1969 Rabbi Menachem Kasher, one of the gedolim [= great Torah scholars] of the twentieth century, published a series of Torah thought essays related to the most amazing event of his time, or any time ever in human history: the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, this week I am…

The Lights of Kislev

The light of the Menorah is a symbol, but of what? There are surprising similarities to… a rainbow…?

There’s a Bad Star on the Rise

In the course of the arguments of Moses and Aaron convincing Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, we find fascinating ideas that are illuminated by astronomy.

Zot Chanukah & Incandescence

To illuminate the process described in Rashi’s comment, I thought people would really enjoy this awesome video by Ben Ames explaining “What is a Flame?”

Dreidel Earth

As a brief follow up to the last post, which discussed the Earth’s axial tilt, I thought I’d add another brief point about how the Earth is like a dreidel – in one respect, at least. This won’t involve much actual Torah, but dreidels are, at least, a very traditional part of Chanukah customs. As mentioned,…

The First Festival of Light

Chanukah is often referred to as the Festival of Light(s). But it is not the first Festival of Light in the world, as the Talmud tells us.