Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Yaakov’s 12 Sons: Star Power Plus
Published: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 07:47:32 PM
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Yosef had a dream about himself and his brothers. “And he dreamed another dream, and told it to his brothers, and said, I have dreamed that the sun, the moon, and 11 stars bowed down to me” (Bereshit 37:9). One of the meanings of Yosef’s dream is that the Jewish People are All Stars. Perhaps that is why Jews invented Hollywood. (Pun Intended)

In Jewish astrology, G-d channels His life force into our world through the Heavenly Stars. Yaakov’s sons, who are the ancestors of the 12 Tribes of Israel, are actually 12 different soul routes from which the Jewish Nation descends. These 12 Souls of Yaakov’s sons correspond to the 12 signs of the Zodiac and the 12 Hebrew months. The month in which we were born indicates a hidden strength that we can develop, and a weakness that we can overcome. We can refine our weakness by using the cycle of the 12 Hebrew Months.

According to the Talmud, everyone has a particular star (Mazal) which is his benefactor (Shabbat 53). Mazal - מזל does not mean luck. The word comes from נוזל - Nozel, which means the heavenly flow or karma of each person.

A number of Talmudic Sages held the view that the power and influence, which stars have over human beings, does not extend to Israel. Thus, Rabbi Yochanan said, "Israel is immune from the flow and of the ‘influence’ of the constellations". (EIN MAZAL LE-YISRAEL, Shabbat 156a).

On the other hand, Rava said, "Length of days, children, and finances DO depend upon destiny-MAZAL" (Talmud Moed Katan 28a). But we can rise above our MAZAL – Destiny through our Tshuva and good deeds. By observing Mitzvot, we enter into a higher realm of existence and bypass the Star Power over us.

Why do the stars form an important link in the chain of G-d's Providence over the world? G-d's Providence works through angels, but the angels work through the stars because the angels are like souls to the stars.

The Abarbanel in Devarim 18 explains that just like the human soul needs a body to accomplish its mission in the world, so too angels need a body to accomplish their mission. Don McLean, who is coming to Israel in January, had a number 1 hit song called Starry Starry Night. Was he singing about angels? Because each star is actually a body of an angel! But why are the angels and stars necessary in the link between G-d and man? The answer is in order to test us. Does the angel or star have its own independent power, which is classic idolatry – hence the term עובדת כוכבים ומזלות, or are they merely a tool of G-d, like a hammer in the hand of a carpenter.

When the carpenter builds you a cabinet, do you thank him or his hammer? Our task in life is to distinguish between the Creator and His creations, which are merely His tools, including astrology.

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