Umbraphiles and Poets Put into the Shade by their Wifely Shidduch

April 4, 2024
iIlustration of an eclipse by Barbara Mendes from “The Adventures of Goldilocks and Baby Bear – What Happened Next” by Linda Hepner

People who are lovers of the sun’s eclipses

are known as umbraphiles, which doesn’t mean that they

believe that God is an umbrella, although gypsies,

of whose beliefs I know extremely little, may.


Some people used to think eclipses were a portent

of bad things that would happen, by them made afraid.

For those who dream that they’re the sun, it is important

to find a moon so they’ll be put into the shade.


Joseph found such shade in Egypt while exilic,

and let himself be covered by fair Asenath.

Every student of the sun who’s umbraphilic

becomes ecstatic when the moon is in its path,


reflecting thus the way that every hubris hus-

band orbited by his wife becomes ecstatic,

just as this poet shadowed by his shidduch does,

when, down to earth, his tides appear to be erratic.


Shidduch:  a Yiddish word denoting a marital match.

 “Umbraphile”: a person who enjoys observing eclipses of the sun.

Ps.91:1 may be interpreted as implying that all human beings should be umbraphiles:

יֹ֭שֵׁב בְּסֵ֣תֶר עֶלְי֑וֹן בְּצֵ֥ל שַׁ֝דַּ֗י יִתְלוֹנָֽן׃

O you who dwell in the hiding place of the Most High, and abide in the shade of God, whose name is Shaddai.

I dedicated the original version of this poem to the late Jay Pasachoff, a distinguished professorial umbraphile whom Dennis Overbye praised in “A Lifetime Under the Moon’s Shadow,” NYT, 4/2/24.  Unfortunately, Jay has landed in the valley of the shadow of death due of his smoking habit which I regretfully observed four years before his passing.

Gershon Hepner is a poet who has written over 25,000 poems on subjects ranging from music to literature, politics to Torah. He grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Using his varied interests and experiences, he has authored dozens of papers in medical and academic journals, and authored “Legal Friction: Law, Narrative, and Identity Politics in Biblical Israel.” He can be reached at gershonhepner@gmail.com.

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