Constellations (4)

It’s thanks to the stars and constellations that the various phenomena are “carried along through (the system of God’s governance) and transformed” from their spiritual essence to their eventual physical manifestations (Derech Hashem 2:7:1). That means to say that the constellations function as a sort of way-station along the way from pure Godliness to utter materiality.

But rather than being passive ports-of-call along the way if you will, they play very active roles in the governing process. For they actually have a lot of input into the various experiences and circumstances those material things will experience (Derech Hashem 2:7:2; also see Ibid. 1:5:3 and 2:1:2). In fact, we’re taught that the physical phenomenon under their sway are also granted “the ability to continue to exist” by the constellations (Derech Hashem 2:7:1) — which is no mean feat to be sure [1].

Understand that the constellations also touch upon humanity, not only inanimate objects; that’s to say, we’re all personally and intimately effected by their input on some level or another (Derech Hashem 2:7:3). Their function is one of the reasons why things sometimes seem unfair, and why “bad things happen to the righteous and good things happen to the wrongful” (Petach 82).

But that’s because one’s stellar influence (i.e., mazal) isn’t based on his or her moral standing but rather on “what’s intrinsically needed to perfect the world”, which is to say it’s rooted in God’s ultimate intentions rather than our own selves. As such,  it “doesn’t have anything to do with a person’s free choice or his merits” and “it only functions in this world, and not in (relation to one’s standing in) the world to come which is dependent on one’s merits and deeds” (Da’at Tevunot 168) [2].

But know as well that the influence of the constellations can be undone at any time if and when God deems that necessary (Derech Hashem 2:7:3), and that we cannot depend on our knowledge of them to understand things about the world despite their vital role here (Derech Hashem 2:7:4).

Now let’s see the connection between the Sephirot, constellations. and angels.



[1]       This touches on the whole subject of Divine Providence, which will be discussed in Petachim 13, 114 below; in Da’at Tevunot 136,190; and at length in the entire second section of Derech Hashem.

[2]       See Klallim Rishonim 34 where this and more is explained at length Kabbalistically and theologically, and where it touches upon things discussed in Petachim 85-89 below. Also see more esoteric references to this in Petachim 105, 111, 114 below.

(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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