In the previous chapter, we discussed the flow of Divine creative energy through the four worlds of Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah, and Assiyah. We have also seen that Beriah is where souls and angels become manifest. The higher Garden of Eden is in Beriah and the lower Garden of Eden is in Yetzirah.
In this chapter, we shall focus specifically on the flow into the physical world of Assiyah.
As previously explained, the supernal Sefirot are manifest in the world of Atzilut. Below this is Beriah; the world of the Throne of Glory (Kisei Hakavod). Beriah allows the Sefirot to interact with the lower worlds. Between Beriah and Assiyah is Yetzirah, the world of the angels. It must be noted that although there are also angels in the world of Beriah and Assiyah, the Kabbalists associate the angels primarily with the world of Yetzirah due to their emotional intensity.
The Kabbalists associate the three worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Assiyah with the three faculties in Man of thought, speech, and action. Just as these three act as garments to the soul, the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah, and Assiyah likewise act as garments to the Sefirot of Atzilut. Yetzirah is known as the world of speech. The Talmud states that “every word emanating from G‑d creates an angel.” The force that traverses the spiritual domain is what we call an angel, and when we speak of “G‑d’s word,” we are actually referring to His interaction with the lower worlds. We have also described it as a conduit or channel for Divine energy flow. In truth, there are many different types of angels. Some are created on a daily basis, and others are permanent with fixed names, such as Michael and Gabriel.
The Midrash actually states different opinions as to which day during creation the angels were created, with debate as to whether it was the second or the fifth. Since all opinions are held as valid, we must say that they refer to different groups of angels with diverse functions.
One of the most important factors in astrology is the time and date of a person’s birth. The Talmud states that there is a “Mazal of the hour.” The time, day, and date when a person is born has an important influence on his destiny. The stars in the sky also form an important link in G‑d’s providence over the physical world. Between G‑d and Man, there are many levels of interaction, the lowest being those between the angels and stars. The Midrash and Zohar state, “There is no blade of grass that does not have a “constellation”—Mazal—over it, telling it to grow.” This means that G‑d’s providence works through the angels, but these angels in turn work through the stars and planets. In a sense, we could speak of the angels as souls to the stars. Some sources speak of the stars as having intelligence, but the commentaries note that this is actually speaking of the angels that are associated with them. The Zohar teaches that every star in the universe has a name, and the Midrash indicates that the names of the stars correspond to the names of the different angels. We see that the Divine influence and flow comes through the angels, through the stars, and finally to earth. We may also now understand why they started to worship the stars in the days of Enosh. Although the founders of star worship knew about G‑d, they mistakenly believed that G‑d is far beyond the vanities of this world and they felt it would be better to serve the underling stars, who seemed to be more of an influencing presence. In time, the underlings became the principal and the notion of monotheism was lost until Abraham (see Ch.2). It must be clear that despite the seeming influence of the stars upon human life, the concept of Mazalot (constellations) is essentially a physical concept. It is a channel through which spiritual forces flow down to the world. A person can establish direct contact with G‑d through prayer, and bypass the influence of the stars.
Influence extends only from the visible members of our solar system. The distant planets such as Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, which are invisible to the unaided eye, are not considered to have any significant astrological influence.
In order of their distance from Earth, the planets are; Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon. Saturn is furthest from the earth and the moon the closest. In Genesis it states that the creation of the stars and the planets were on the fourth day of creation. Counting from Sunday, this means they were made on Wednesday. In Biblical reckoning, night always precedes the day. Therefore the planets were placed in position on the eve of the fourth day, i.e. on Tuesday night.
They were placed one at a time, an hour apart in order of their distance from the earth. Thus in the first hour 6 p.m., Saturn was placed in position. In the second hour, 7 p.m., Jupiter was placed in position; Mars 8 p.m., Sun 9 p.m., Venus 10 p.m., Mercury 11 p.m., Moon 12 p.m. Each planet then dominated the hour in which it was positioned. After the first seven hours, their dominance began a new cycle, with the planets in the same order. This seven hour cycle continues through the week, and it is the same every week. One immediately notices following this order that the first hour of each evening is dominated by a different planet. Sunday-Mercury, Monday-Jupiter, Tuesday-Venus, Wednesday-Saturn, Thursday- Sun, Friday-Moon, Saturday-Mars. So too the first hour of each day is dominated by each planet as follows; Sunday- Sun, Monday-Moon, Tuesday-Mars, Wednesday-Mercury, Thursday-Jupiter, Friday-Venus, Saturday-Saturn. We see clearly that the name of each day is associated with the planet that dominates its first hour in the morning. Sunday is dominated by the Sun, Monday (Moon day) by the Moon, Tuesday (Mardi – Mars day) by Mars, Wednesday (Mercredi – Mercury’s day) by Mercury, Thursday (Jeudi – Jupiters day) by Jupiter, Friday (Vendredi – Venus’s day) by Venus and Saturday by Saturn. In Hebrew Saturn is called Shabbatai after the word Shabbat.
The Torah states (Deuteronomy 18:10) “There shall not be found among you one who calculates times.” The Talmud, in the name of Rabbi Akiva, specifically applies this prohibition to one who calculates auspicious times, meaning that one should not make astrology a dominant influence in one’s daily life and predictions through astrology are forbidden. Therefore one should not use horoscopes to determine one’s future actions, though it is permitted to do character analyzes through astrology.
It is the prevalent custom that on a happy occasion such as a birth, one wishes “Mazal tov” indicating the wish that the planetary influence on the child should be a good one. Yet we are not slaves to the planets, as the Torah states, “You shall be perfect with the L-rd your G‑d” (Deuteronomy 18:13). This means that the more we perfect our relationship with the spiritual dimension, the more G‑d is going to aid us in changing the natural course of events. This makes any action based on astrological predictions needless. It states clearly in the Talmud that “Ein Mazal LeYisroel” or “there is no Mazal for the Jewish people.” This simply means that the Jewish people as a whole were lifted above the Mazalot by virtue of their receiving the Torah.