Thursday, July 21, 2022

Jews and mazel

 Meiri (Shabbos 156): …. The gemora here says that in general Jews are not controlled absolutely by mazal. Don’t pay attention to the alternative view that says that Jews are in fact controlled by mazal. That view is the result of some of the sages became confused after they saw the lack of order in the manner of mankind’s reward and punishment. This confusion is also manifest in Moed Koton(28a) which states that “Lifespan, children and livelihood are not the result of merit but rather mazal.” This statement was made only because the author saw someone who was a tzadik and great scholar who was unsuccessful in these three areas.Another one of these confused sages stated in Bava Kama (80b): “A door which is locked is not readily opened” and “All those who suffer misfortune do not quickly obtain good fortune” while another one of this group said, “He will never obtain good fortune” . This statement was only made because of bad personal experience as the gemora itself concludes that it was not a general rule but he was only describing his own personal experience. All this shows that these statements asserting the importance of mazal were only made in response to their authors’ personal experiences or what they observed with others. Thus these are only exceptions to the general rule that “Jews are not governed by mazal.” In other words reward and punishment typically determines what happens to a person and not mazal. Our gemora here (Shabbos 156a) provides testimony concerning incidents predicted by astrologers such as being on the verge of death and yet nevertheless being saved through the merit of giving charity. There is no need to repeat the events described in this gemora because they are clearly stated.


  1. what authority is invested in rishonim to interpret the Talmud? are they "the Judge in charge of the day " ?

  2. The gemara says "Ain mazel 'lYisrael" And our long history shows it - boy do we have no mazel.

  3. Thanks (KA ?) for this post of the Meiri’s comments to Shabbath 156. To your question KA: what authority is invested in rishonim to interpret the Talmud? are they "the Judge in charge of the day " ?

    The reference is to:”7The hand of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So thou shalt put away the evil from the midst of thee. 8If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, even matters of controversy within thy gates; then shalt thou arise, and get thee up unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose. 9And thou shall come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days; and thou shalt inquire; and they shall declare unto thee the sentence of judgment.” (Deuteronomy 17:7-9)
    דברים פרשת שופטים פרק יז פסוק ט
    וּבָאתָ אֶל הַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם וְאֶל הַשֹּׁפֵט אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם וְדָרַשְׁתָּ וְהִגִּידוּ לְךָ אֵת דְּבַר הַמִּשְׁפָּט:
    רש"י דברים פרשת שופטים פרק יז פסוק ט
    ואל השופט אשר יהיה בימים ההם - ואפילו אינו כשאר שופטים שהיו לפניוו אתה צריך לשמוע לו. אין לך אלא שופט שבימיך:
    KA, you invite risible slander of Garnel: And our long history shows it - boy do we have no mazel.

    My theory. Everyone has authority to interpret the Talmud. Not trolls though. A troll is a person who posts inflammatory, insincere, digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.), a newsgroup, forum, chat room, online video game, or blog), with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses, or manipulating others' perception. This is typically for the troll's amusement, or to achieve a specific result such as disrupting a rival's online activities or manipulating a political process. Even so, Internet trolling can also be defined as purposefully causing confusion or harm to other users online, for no reason at all.
    Daas Torah is a community of believers i Nechemia 9: 13Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spokest with them from heaven, and gavest them right ordinances and laws of truth, good statutes and commandments; 14and madest known unto them Thy holy sabbath, and didst command them commandments, and statutes, and a law, by the hand of Moses Thy servant;

  4. Thank you Gerald
    My question was not stating any particular intention, not sure how you got your slander claim.
    However, once you accept that rationalist rishonim have power vested in them, it becomes problematic for later authorities to deny them.


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