SOMETHING cool is going to happen next Monday night.
Maybe even while you are eating your Afikomen.
At midnight, the moon might turn blood-red.
(Lunar eclipses are rare but not that rare. But they are "that rare" on Seder night. There will be one next year - visible only in the Pacific Ocean, and then not again for many years.)
Here's what's cool - we know that the moon will be eclipsed, and we know where the eclipse will be visible.
But the color is unpredictable:
"The umbra may take on a range of colors from light coppery-red to almost total black. The light illuminating an eclipsed moon is coming from thousands of sunsets and sunrises around the Earth. During some eclipses, these sunsets and sunrises are clear, and much light passes through; during others, clouds may block the light, causing a dark eclipse. On rare occasions, the light reaching the moon is exactly the color of blood, but there is no way of predicting this in advance" (space.com).
So this mini science lesson leads to a question for your table that I'm willing to bet NOBODY reading this can answer:
What's the connection between a lunar eclipse and Pesach?
The answer lies in that obscure line in the Haggada from prophetic book of Yoel (Joel):
"Blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke" (Yoel 3:3).
It's all very nice and on the theme of the 10 Plagues. And you probably read it every year and pay little attention.
Maybe you even skip it?
But what few know is that the very next line of the book of Yoel says:
"The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood..."
The prophet is telling us that a solar and lunar eclipse are a good omen for those who say "Next year in Jerusalem".
This Monday night, after you finally find and finish your afikomen, after your four cups of wine, and a fifth for Eliyahu HaNavi (Elijah the Prophet), you'll find yourself at that famous line, "l'shana ha'ba b'Yerushalayim" - next year in Jerusalem.
Perhaps it will be close to true midnight, when the moon will be at full eclipse (1:07 am in Baltimore, 1:10 am in San Francisco and Seattle, 12:53 am in L.A.).
Wherever you are on the globe, take a look at the moon.
And think about it.
Wishing you and yours a chametz-free, happy Pesach
PS - if you or someone you know does not have a first or second seder to attend, anywhere in the world, please let me know.
PPS - These just in:
a. Dark glasses for Plague of Darkness $5.43 for a 12-pack
b. Lego skeletons for Death of First Born or cheaper skeletons - 12-pack
c. Martha Stewart's interesting idea of a bag of plagues for each person.
d. Whaddya think - edible plagues?
e. The new 2014 edition of the Art of Amazement Haggada.
f. bestjewishkidsbooks.com has even more links to last-minute Pesach books and gifts, even matzah.