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Responsa

Heavenly Portents

Q: During the Purim season of 5757 the comet Hale-Bopp was visible as well as a partial Lunar eclipse with a very visible Mars directly above the moon. All this the day after the horrible bombing in Tel Aviv. I know that it is significant. Can you tell me anything about this?


A: The Talmud suggests that celestial occurrences can be indicative of judgment from above with possibly grave consequences. Nevertheless, the Talmudic Sages were very careful to emphasize that one can subvert such judgment by attaching his consciousness directly to the realm of Divinity, where the forces of severity are "sweetened" and harnessed only for the good of Creation.

In truth, astrology is not a healthy interest for Jew or non-Jew. The essential article of faith common to both is the belief in one G-d. Although the study of astrology does not necessarily constitute a breach of that faith, it can lead to ascribing inordinate power and significance to the heavenly intermediaries which G-d set in the firmament–thereby creating fertile ground for consequent expressions of worship. Indeed the term used in Rabbinic sources to denote a pagan Akum–is actually an abbreviation of the Hebrew words Oved Kochavim U'Mazalot–"a worshipper of stars and zodiacal signs."

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