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The Planets & The Torah

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Did you grow up with the planetary mnemonic “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pies”? Of course, since 2006, when Pluto was removed from the roster of planets, the mnemonic has changed.

Until the 17th century, when Neptune and Uranus were first discovered, everyone, including the sages of the Talmud, recognized the other five planets of the Milky Way: Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. (In the Talmud, these planets are not, of course, listed by the names of Roman gods, but rather as Maadim, Kochav Nogah, Kochav, Zedek, and Shabbetai.)

While the sages debate the efficacy of astrology, the Torah testifies that God made Abraham and all of his descendants beyond the influence of such metaphysical mysteries. (Click here to read more on this subject.) Nevertheless, some sages assigned different astrological influences to different parts of the day and declared that planets affect the people who are born under their influence:

Those born under the influence of the sun will be distinguished, self sufficient and “his secrets will lie uncovered,” (and will be an unsuccessful thief.)

Those born under the influence of Venus will be wealthy, but immoral.

Those born under the influence of Mercury will be wise and have a good memory.

Those born under the influence of the moon will “suffer evil, building and demolishing…eating and drinking that which is not his and his secrets will remain safe.” (He will be a good thief.)

Those born under the influence of Saturn will have frustrated plans, although it is also said that plans against such a one will be frustrated.

Those born under the influence of Jupiter will be right-doing.

Those born under the influence of Mars will be a shedder of blood. On this “Rabbi Ashi observed: Either a surgeon, a thief, a slaughterer, or a circumciser” (Shabbat 156a).

(Pluto was discovered on February 18, 1930.)

Copyright © 2014 NJOP. All rights reserved.

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