There is No Flux of Destiny to Israel
“And why was Torah given [in Sivan] and not in the rest of the moons [i.e., months]? What is this matter like? A king who was arranging the festivities for his daughter’s wedding. And a man, one of the royal dignitaries, said: ‘It would be seemly for the princess, after she is seated in the palanquin, to have her ride on an elephant and so raise her among all the nobles of the kingdom.’ Another answered and said: ‘An elephant stands high, but is without splendor or beauty [alt., an elephant stands high, and so the princess will not appear impressive]. And since the princess is lovely, it would be more seemly to have her mount a horse and thus show her loveliness among all the nobles of the kingdom.’ Then a man spoke up and said: ‘An elephant stands high, and a horse is comely; but neither has a mouth to speak with, hands to clap together, nor feet to dance with. Hence it is fitting for me to extol the princess, for I have a mouth to speak with, hands to clap together, and feet to dance with; and so I would have her mount on my shoulders to display her loveliness.’ Even so the blessed Holy One, did not give the Torah in Nisan nor in Iyyar, because the מַּזַּל (mazal), constellation, of Nisan is Aries, and the constellation of Iyyar is Taurus, and it is not fitting for them to extol and praise [the Torah]. Hence the blessed Holy One gave the Torah in Sivan, because the constellation of Sivan is תְּאוֹמִים (Te’omim), Gemini, and Twins are human, and being human have mouths to speak with, and hands to clap together, and feet to dance with.
… Why did the blessed Holy One create His world in Nisan and not create it in Iyyar? Because at the time that the blessed Holy One wished to create His world He said to the prince of darkness: ‘Leave My presence, for I desire the world’s creation to begin with light,’ the prince of darkness being as black as a bull. At once the prince of darkness replied to the blessed Holy One: ‘Why do You wish to put something ahead of me in the creation? [i.e., Aries, a white lamb (Nisan) before a black bull, Taurus (Iyyar)]. The blessed Holy One said to the prince of darkness: ‘Leave My presence. If you will not leave My presence, I will rebuke you—I desire to begin creating the world with light.’ ‘And after the darkness, what will You create?’ ‘תְּאוֹמִים (Te’omim), Gemeni.’ ‘And why will you create תְּאוֹמִים (te’omim), twins?’ ‘Because the human will be able to see both in daylight and in darkness—מַּזַּל תְּאוֹמִים (mazal Te’omim), constellation of Gemini [Sivan].’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘סַרְטָן (Sartan), Cancer [Tammuz]: Because like a crab man scrabbles together his possessions out of holes and cracks.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘אַרְיֵה (Aryeh), Leo [Av].’ ‘Since after man in crab-fashion scrabbles together his possessions out of holes and cracks, he then thinks he is as strong as a lion.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘בְּתוּלָה (Betulah), Virgo [Elul]. For man is meant to rejoice in a virgin [alt., to grow as plump as a virgin].’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘מֹאזְנַיִם (Moznayim), Libra [Tishrei], for man’s deeds will be weighed in the balance.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘עַקְרָב (Aqrav), Scorpio [Marḥeshvan]. When a man is weighed and crimes discovered in him, he is made to go down to Hell.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘קַשָּׁת (Qashat), Sagittarius [Kislev]. Perhaps you will say that once a man is plunged into Hell, there will be no coming up for him. When mercy is besought in his behalf, however, he is shot up from Hell as an arrow from the קַשָּׁת (qashat), bow.’ ‘And after that what will You create? ‘גְּדִי (Gedi), Capricorn [Tevet]. You might think that when man comes up out of Hell, his countenance will be gloomy. The truth is that as he comes up, he will romp like a גְּדִי (gedi), kid.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘דְּלִי (Deli), Aquarius [Shevat], the pitcher from which I splash pure water on man to purify him of his sins.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘דָּגִים (Dagim), Pisces [Adar]. Because Israel are exempt from the forces that rule the world, and the [evil] eye or מַּזַּל גּוֹרֵם (mazal gorem), planetary influence, can no more prevail over them [than it can over דָּגִים (dagim), fish, under water. Cf. BT Berakhot 20a; Bereshit Rabbah 97:2]: only the [planet of the] hour [at birth] influences [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi-Eli’ezer, 6].’
And why did the blessed Holy One in the beginning create the sun as the only source of light?’ Because the world, all of it, was intended to be lighted by one luminary, the same by night as by day. And after the creation of the sun, [the prince of darkness asked], ‘what will You create?’ ‘כּוֹכָב (Kokhav), Mercury, and נוֹגַה (Nogah), Venus [two-in-one, i.e., a hermaphroditic planet].’ But because the blessed Holy One foresaw the generation of the flood take to whoring, He—just as soon as He foresaw that—made Mercury and Venus dwell apart from each other. Nevertheless, the generation of the flood rose up and confounded one sex with the other.
Mercury is אִישׁ (ish), man, and Venus אִשּׁה (ishah), woman [cf. BT Sotah 17a]. Now why create Mercury at all? Because Mercury—the male principal—represents our father Abraham who in wisdom gives guidance to all the world, every part of it.’
‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘The לְבָנָה (Levanah), Moon—for the children of Israel, every one of them, are destined to reflect the light of Abraham as the moon reflects the light of the sun.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘שַׁבְתַאִי (Shabbtai), Saturn—for the peoples of the world will rule over Israel.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘צֶדֶק (Tsedeq), Jupiter—for the blessed Holy One לְהַצְדִּיק (le-ha-tseddiq), will deal justly, with them. And you may mistakenly think that the peoples will be saved from the judgment. But the blessed Holy One created מַאְדִים (Ma’adim), Mars, [אָדוֹם (adom), red]—Hell into which they will fall” (Pesiqta Rabbati 20:1–2).
“[Length of] life, sons, and sustenance depend not on merit but on מַזָּל (mazal), flux of destiny” (BT Mo’ed Qatan 28a).
“It was recorded in Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi’s notebook: He who [is born] on the first day of the week [Sunday] shall be a man without one in him—what does ‘without one in him’ mean? Shall we say, without one good quality? Surely Rabbi Ashi said: I was born on the first day of the week! So it must be, ‘Without one bad quality.’ But didn’t Rabbi Ashi said: I and Dimi son of Qaquzeta were born on the first day of the week: I am king [head of the academy] and he is a captain of thieves!—rather it means either all good or all bad. What is the reason? Because light and darkness were created on that day. He who is born on the second day of the week will be contentious—what is the reason? Because the waters were divided thereon. He who is born on the third day of the week will be wealthy and promiscuous. What is the reason? Because herbs were created that day. He who is born on the fourth day of the week will be wise and radiant [cf. Ecclesiastes 8:1: a man’s wisdom lights up his face]. What is the reason? Because the luminaries were hung [on that day]—he who is born on the fifth day of the week will render kindnesses. What is the reason? Because the fishes and birds were created that day. He who is born on the eve of the Sabbath will be a חַזְרָן (ḥazran), seeker. Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq commented: חַזְרָן (ḥazran), assiduous, in mitsvot. He who is born on the Sabbath will die on the Sabbath, because the great day of the Sabbath was desecrated on his account. Rava son of Rav Shila observed: But he shall be called great and holy.
Rabbi Ḥanina said to [his disciples]: Go and tell the son of Levi, it is not the מַזָּל (mazal), constellation, of the day that is the influence but the constellation of the hour that is the influence [cf. BT Shabbat 129b: ‘the planet Mars rules at even-numbered hours of the day’; Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 5]. He who is born under the sun will be a man outstanding [lit., of radiant appearance]: he will eat and drink of his own but his secrets will be revealed; if a thief, he will not succeed. He who is born under Venus will be a wealthy and promiscuous man. What is the reason? Because fire burns in it. He who is born under Mercury will be radiant and wise. What is the reason? Because it is the sun’s scribe. He who is born under the Moon will be a man to suffer evil, he will build and raze, raze and build, eating and drinking what is not his but his secrets will remain concealed: if a thief, he will be successful. He who is born under Saturn will be a man whose plans will be frustrated [since שַׁבְתַאִי (Shabbtai), Saturn, alludes to שׁבָּת (shabbat), cessation]. Others say: All designs against him will be frustrated. He who is born under צֶדֶק (Tsedeq), Jupiter, will be a man צַדְקָן (tsadqan), who does justly. Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq observed: who does righteousness in mitsvot. He who is born under Mars will be a man who spills blood. Rabbi Ashi said: Either a surgeon, a thief, a [ritual] slaughterer, or a circumciser. Rabbah said: I was born under Mars [yet am none of these]. Abayye said: The master has also punished and killed [see BT Megillah 7b: ‘Rabbah and Rabbi Zera joined together in a Purim feast. They became drunk, and Rabbah arose and cut Rabbi Zera’s throat. On the next day he prayed on his behalf and revived him. Next year he said, Will your honor come and we will have the Purim feast together? He replied: A miracle does not take place on every occasion’].
It was stated. Rabbi Ḥanina says: The מַזָּל (mazal), constellation, gives wisdom, the constellation gives wealth, and there is a מַזָּל (mazal), flux of destiny, to Israel. Rabbi Yoḥanan says: There is no flux of destiny to Israel. Now, Rabbi Yoḥanan is consistent with his view, for Rabbi Yoḥanan said: How do we know that there is no flux of destiny to Israel? Because it is said, Thus says YHWH, Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the nations are dismayed at them (Jeremiah 10:2). They are dismayed but not Israel. Rav too holds that there is no flux of destiny to Israel. For Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: How do we know that there is no flux of destiny to Israel? Because it is said, וַיּוֹצֵא (Va-yotse), And He took [him] outside (Genesis 15:5). Abraham said before the blessed Holy One ‘Master of the Universe! [Look, to me you have given no seed, and] a member of my household is to be my heir (ibid., 3).’ He said to him: ‘Not so, [This one will not be your heir,] but he who issues from your loins will be your heir’ (ibid., 4). He said before Him, ‘I have gazed at my horoscope, and I am not fated to engender a son.’ ‘Leave, your astrological speculations! For there is no מַזָּל (mazal), constellation, to Israel. What do you suppose? Since צֶדֶק (Tsedeq), Jupiter, stands in the West I will turn it back and place it in the East’ [cf. Job 37:12; Zohar 1:110a; Bereshit Rabbah 44:10]. As it is written, Who raised up צֶדֶק (Tsedeq), Jupiter, from the east, He has summoned it for his sake (Isaiah 41:2). From Shemu’el too [we learn] that there is no מַזָּל (mazal), constellation, to Israel. For Shemu’el and Avlet were sitting, while certain people were going to a lake [to cut reeds]. Avlet said to Shemu’el: ‘That man is going but will not return, [for] a snake will bite him and he will die.’ Shemu’el said, ‘If he is an son of Israel he will go and return.’ While they were sitting he went and returned. [Thereupon] Avlet arose and threw off [the man’s] knapsack [of reeds], [and] found a snake in it cut up and lying in two pieces—Shemu’el said to him, ‘What did you do?’ ‘Every day we pooled our bread and ate it; but today one of us had no bread, and he was ashamed. I said to them, I will go and collect [the bread]. When I came to him, I pretended to take from him, so that he should not be ashamed.’ ‘You have done a מִצְוָה (mitsvah), commandment’ he said to him [cf. JT Orlah 1:5, 61b: ‘One who eats from his friend’s food is ashamed to look at him’]. Then Shemu’el went out and expounded: but righteousness saves from death (Proverbs 10:2); and [this does not mean] from an unnatural death, but from death itself.
From Rabbi Akiva too [we learn that] there is no מַזָּל (mazal), flux of destiny, to Israel. For Rabbi Akiva had a daughter. Now, Chaldeans told him, On the day she enters her bridal chamber a snake will bite her and she will die. He was very worried about this. On that day [of her marriage] she took a brooch [and] stuck it into the wall and it penetrated the eye of a snake. The following morning, when she took it out, the snake came trailing after it. ‘What did you do?’ her father asked her. She said to him ‘A poor man came to our door in the evening and everybody was busy at the banquet, and there was none to attend to him. So I took the portion which was given to me and gave it to him.’ ‘You have done a מִצְוָה (mitsvah), commandment’ he said to her. Then Rabbi Akiva went out and expounded: but righteousness saves from death: and not [merely] from an unnatural death, but from death itself. From Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq too [we learn that] there is no מַזָּל (mazal), flux of destiny, to Israel. The mother of Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq was told by Chaldeans, ‘Your son will be a thief.’ [Thus] she did not let him [go] bareheaded, saying to him, ‘Cover your head so that the fear of heaven may be upon you, and pray’—now, he did not know why she spoke that to him. One day he was sitting and studying under a palm tree, the evil impulse overcame him, he climbed up and bit off a cluster with his teeth” (BT Shabbat 156a–b).
“Just as there are twelve constellations from the side of good so there are twelve constellations from the side of evil. This is what is meant by, [These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names in their habitations and their encampments,] twelve chieftains according to their tribes (Genesis 25:16), since, [On the day of good luck, enjoy the good, and on the day of evil, see:] one against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14)” (Zohar 3:283a, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).