Usually the sun rises and the sun sets. This is normal. This is what we expect. Anything otherwise would be a miracle – or a horror movie.
But 3,286 years ago, on the 3rd day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz – which corresponds to this Tuesday – something very different happened in the pattern of the sun. On that day, the Jewish people were at the threshold of completing their conquest of the Promised Land, when the sun was about to set. Nighttime would force the Jews to retreat and would allow their almost-vanquished enemies to regroup.
But then, Joshua, Moses’ successor as the leader of the Jewish people, said to the sun: “Sun, stand still upon Gibeon, and moon in the valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, did not set, until the Jewish people had achieved victory over their enemies. And this is how they conquered the Promised Land, the Holy Land of Israel.
What do these events mean to us? What does the sun’s suspension teach us? What does it inspire in us? How does it compel us to act and what does it compel us to achieve?
Perhaps if we turn our lens to the original leader, Moses, and the three key segments of our Torah reading – the Red Heifer, the Rock, and the Copper Snake – we, too, can learn how to suspend the sun.