Constellations (2)

We’re also taught that “there is not a blade of grass” among all other natural things in the universe “that doesn’t have its mazal in the heavens to strike it and say to it ‘Grow!’” (Breishit Rabbah 9:6). And that every person “has a mazal that is his guardian from conception and birth” (Shabbat 53b) and oftentimes perceives things that he himself cannot (Meggilah 3a) [1].

The Zohar is quite emphatic about the rule of the constellations. It said that “the stars and constellations in the heavens were appointed to be rulers and governors over the entire world” (2, p. 171). Some of our sages argue, though, that our people aren’t influenced by the constellations while others say otherwise (Shabbat 156a) [2]. And some maintain that we can rise above the constellation by dint of our righteousness while others disagree (Shabbat 129b).

So we see how important constellations are in God’s governance of the world. Let’s explore what Ramchal says about them.



[1]       See Moreh Nevuchim 2:10 for a full discussion of the role that the constellations (and other celestial entities) play.

[2]       It’s stated in the Zohar, though, that prior to the granting of the Torah everyone was beholden to the constellations, whereas after the revelation God exempted those of us who study and observe the Torah from their rule, while the unlearned and heretics were not absolved from the constellations’ influence (3, p. 216b).

The Zohar discusses the constellations at length at a number of points including 1, pp. 188b-189a; 2, pp. 171a-172a, 188a, 232a; 3, pp. 251a-251b; and Zohar Chadash, Breishit p. 15a.

(c) 2010 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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