Friday, May 4, 2012

Shabbat Ends With Supermoon-May 5th

Nadene Goldfoot
Judaism follows the moon instead of the sun in creating a calendar.  Shabbat comes on a Friday night 1/2 hour before sundown and ends on Saturday night when 3 stars appear in the sky.  It's easy to see this in Israel where light from cities don't reflect at night, blocking out stars.  I had never seen such a black sky nor such huge twinkling stars as I did in Safed.  We'd sit out a night and watch till we saw the first three, then go in the house to end shabbat with a braided candle and the sniffing of spices to bring in a wonderful new week

This is the month of Iyar, and Shabbat is on the 12th and 13th of Iyar, or this 4th and 5th of May.  It starts with the lighting of candles at 8:04pm, so I have a few hours left to finish this posting.  Saturday night, Shabbat will end at 9:15pm.  Synagogues will be reading from Pirkei-Avot: chapter 3.  According to our lunar calendar, this is the year 5772.

This supermoon is supposed to be the biggest and brightest full moon of the year because it will pass closer to Earth than usual.  At 11:34 p.m. the moon will be about 221,802 miles from Earth which is about 15,300 miles closer than average.  This distance varies because it's orbit is elliptical instead of circular.

If we look for it at the horizon, it will look bigger because it's an optical illusion.  It will be there at sunset.  If you live on the East coast, that is a little before 8 pm Saturday night.  The affect should be higher tides.  This is not only because of its closeness but of its alignment with the sun and Earth.  It's not going to be a big change so many would notice, however.

Last year saw a supermoon on March 19, 2011 which was 240 miles closer than this years.  Next year it will be farther away yet.

In Judaism we celebrate with every month's  full moon.  In Israel, it is the time women have a party and study about their religion. It's called Rosh Chodesh which falls on the 22nd of this month.  On that day the month changes to Sivan, which is still in the month of May.  . It is customary in the Ashkenazi tradition to offer prayers for national redemption and a prayer for a prosperous and blessed month.    May it be so.

NBC News Friday night-supermoon
Chabad Calendar 2012
New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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