They say that “seeing is believing.” In our age of technical wonders and artificial intelligence, we know that this is not to be trusted with any “photographs” or “video” that we see, as they can be easily altered, and it is close to impossible to know when they are “fake.” However, when it comes to natural things we see with our own eyes, we still take it true that “seeing is believing.” Moreover, the notion suggests that one cannot truly comprehend an event or phenomenon until and unless you see it for yourself. That might be true about many things, but at least for two events this past week, I beg to differ.

One of them was the solar eclipse that we missed here in Israel. We didn’t get to see it here in Israel, but the accounts shared by those who experienced totality describe a fantastic phenomenon. It’s depicted as an awe-inspiring, almost surreal encounter that makes one feel the greatness of our Creator like few others. Virtually all will recount how incredible it was to watch the moon moving directly in the path of the sun and then out again. They believe that the four or so minutes of totality represents the time it takes the moon to move that distance in its month-long trip around the Earth.

However, this is not accurate. The reason that it takes only four minutes is not because the moon moves in front of the sun at that speed; it does not. If it was moving at that speed, a far shorter time than a month would be needed to circumvent the Earth. The body that is moving so rapidly is the Earth itself, as it rotates on its axis.

As we stand still on the Earth’s surface, we are actually moving at an incredible speed. You may not know this, but (hold onto your hat!), you are actually moving at all times much faster than almost any jetliner – approximately 1,000 miles per hour. The circumference of the Earth (at the equator) is 24,901 miles. Simple arithmetic yields that for it to spin around completely in 24 hours, it would have to rotate at about 1,000 miles per hour.

Thus, when the umbra of the moon’s shadow moves over the Earth, it appears only briefly in any particular place because the Earth is spinning very quickly. (This also explains the circular path of the umbra, which is based on the Earth’s curvature.) Only a relatively small percentage of the movement that you see is due to the moon’s movement.

In other words, you are not seeing what you think you are seeing. The solar eclipse is due to the moon’s shadow to be sure, but the rapidity of the movement is due to the Earth’s movement rather than the moon’s.

I thought about this lesson as I sat in my home in Migdal HaEmek on Motza’ei Shabbos, less than two miles from the largest air force base in northern Israel. We knew that the Ayatollahs yimach sh’mam had unleashed hundreds of missiles that were headed our way, with who knows what type of warheads. It was the first time that out most dangerous enemy had attacked us directly, not through their Hamas and Hezbollah puppets. We knew that as a crucial military asset, Ramat David would be targeted, and one would expect us to be cowering in fear while awaiting the arrival of the missiles and drones.

And yet, when they arrived, it was surreal. We looked out at the flashing lights in the sky, knowing that they were deadly missiles and drones, and yet feeling totally at peace and calm and completely protected. Hashem was our protector, watching over us so that not one Jew was hurt. We certainly were grateful for the power and technical prowess that He blessed us with to intercept virtually every missile, and the skill and bravery of the IAF is just fantastic. One after the other missiles exploded, and the fireworks display beat any Fourth of July celebration I have ever attended. But we knew that no matter how good the IAF and the Iron Dome is, the fact that not one missile got through was a fantastic miracle only attributable to Hashem.

It felt like a Leil Shimurim – the Night of Protection – experienced by our ancestors in Egypt. All around them was chaos, death, and destruction; not one Egyptian home was spared from experiencing a death. At the same time, our people sat serenely in their homes, feeling loved and protected. One saw the danger, but the true story was not the visible missiles, but the hidden Hand of G-d batting them all away.

I know that some wonder how dangerous and frightening it must be in Israel at this moment. The opposite is true. There is nowhere else that I, nor anyone I know, would rather be than here, at this exciting moment, in the midst of unfolding history.

I hope you have the privilege of visiting here again soon, hopefully for good, as our nation progresses toward its national destiny, with the coming of the Final Redemption, speedily in our days.

Chag Kasher V’Samei’ach!

Rabbi Yehuda L. Oppenheimer is a writer and licensed tour guide living in Israel. Before aliyah, he served as the rabbi of several congregations, including the Young Israel of Forest Hills. He would love to show you our homeland on your next visit! He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or via WhatsApp at 972-53-624-1802.