Sunday, October 30, 2022

Magic Demons and Astrology real?

 Rav S. R. Hirsch (Letter to R. Hile Wechsler,published by Mordechai Breuer in Hama’ayan 16:2 (Tevet 5736/1976) p. 6) A related topic is the question of the nature of magic, astrology, demons, and suchlike... Who dares get involved in a dispute between Rambam and Ramban, following whom the camp of Israel is split in two on such matters? ...And if so, every intelligent person is entitled to adopt either view in the absence of either being ruled out. Alternatively—and in my view, this is the more correct approach—he can admit that he has no clarity in the matters. And I will admit without shame that I have never bothered to investigate and analyze the nature of these things, just as I have never been curious to investigate and inquire as to the nature of the World-to-Come, the world of the resurrection, and so on. For the truth of these things is concealed from everyone, and it is impossible to attain clarity on these things with decisive proofs... What difference does it make if with regard to matters of witchcraft and suchlike, the truth lies with Rambam or Ramban? Either way, we have to distance ourselves from such things, whether they are genuine or nonsensical. (


  1. there is no scientific support for any of the assertions of astrology.
    Time to give it a rest.
    If rationality is not a factor, the Gemara says ain mazal l'Yisrael, and Avraham is told tzei m'istagnotcha.

  2. just because astrology has complex arguments, doesn't make it true. The astronomy part of it is based on science. That's where the science ends.

  3. Slight tangent -

    We are told the original nachash had legs.

    Science agrees, says 150 million years ago...

  4. On one hand, "there are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy". On the other hand, we are physical beings in the physical world under the rule of physical laws.
    Maybe there's more out there but it's of no use to us to run after what we cannot perceive, measure or reliably manipulate.

  5. problem with that is that astrology postulates factors that have causal effects on the physical or human world. So , for example "if Mars is rising or in Capricorn etc etc, then x or y will happen". Except many scientists have tested these theorems, and have found them to have no significant effect on life events.

    The defenders face a number of problems:

    1) a person who makes predictions, and they do not pass, can be a navi sheker, especially if he claims it is all big "Divine science"

    2) There is also the credibilty of the defenders of the (astrological) faith - when you call them out and say the predictions are false, they come up with "oh, we don't know exactly what astrology is or was, ; oh, the old astrologers were great (gedolim) in the field, not like today's horoscopes etc etc. So they make grandiose claims, then they backtrak, saying we don't know today, we don't know yesterday, we don't know anything. Fine, so then they are unreliable fools.

  6. “we have to distance ourselves from such things” No. Allow me Torah thought parshat נח “And the LORD said unto Noah: ‘Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation. 2Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee seven and seven, each with his mate; and of the beasts that are not clean two [and two], each with his mate; 3of the fowl also of the air, seven and seven, male and female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. 4For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I blot out from off the face of the earth.’ 5And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.” (Genesis 7:1-5).
    בראשית פרשת נח פרק ז פסוק ב
    מִכֹּל הַבְּהֵמָה הַטְּהוֹרָה תִּקַּח לְךָ שִׁבְעָה שִׁבְעָה אִישׁ וְאִשְׁתּוֹ וּמִן הַבְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא טְהֹרָה הִוא שְׁנַיִם אִישׁ וְאִשְׁתּוֹ:
    רש"י בראשית פרשת נח פרק ז פסוק ב
    הטהורה - העתידה להיות טהורה לישראל, למדנו שלמד נח תורה:
    שבעה שבעה - כדי שיקריבי מהם קרבן בצאתו:
    Rashi says: Seven from the tehorah, obviously what in the future will be called tehorah. We learn from this that Noah learned Torah. Beautiful
    Torah thought daf hayomi Nedarim 4a:
    “ Mar Zutra the son of R. Mari said: He might violate Thou shalt not delay in respect to his sacrifices. Is this deduced from here; surely, it is rather inferred from elsewhere: [When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord, thou shalt not slack to pay it, for the Lord thy God] will surely require it of thee: this refers to sin-offerings and trespass-offerings?”

    “22When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not be slack to pay it; for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it will be sin in thee.” (Deuteronomy 23:22).

    דברים פרשת כי תצא פרק כג פסוק כב
    כִּי תִדֹּר נֶדֶר לַיקֹוָק אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא תְאַחֵר לְשַׁלְּמוֹ כִּי דָרֹשׁ יִדְרְשֶׁנּוּ יְקֹוָק אֱלֹהֶיךָ מֵעִמָּךְ וְהָיָה בְךָ חֵטְא:

    Beautiful. Noah promptly did his sacrifices when he left the ark. We must always do promptly what we are obligated to do. What a fine thought! The magid shiur says that rabbis in Europe that invited poor to a Friday night meal, would skip shalom alechem to serve the starving poor food faster in keeping with Deuteronomy 23:22.

  7. 1) If it doesn't come to pass, well you must have sinned or done something which upset the calculus. Blame the patient, in other words.
    2) This is a common defence. It's what lets us do business with Hindus, right? Back then, well they were real idol worshippers. Today it's just a business.

  8. It's a good thing that the king is not a Hindu or that the Hindu Prime Minister did not invite the Chief rabbi to a Hindu inauguration service. No precedent to that.

  9. Still could happen. There's Lubavitchers in India and wherever they go they like to style themselves as Chief Rabbis.


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