Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Demonic Offspring

I hope everyone has been enjoying the beautiful sight of Venus and Jupiter appearing to come very close together in the western sky. From this point on, they will now appear to be separating. Due to their brilliance, most people find this sight to be quite pleasing!

After hearing nice feedback about the last post which focused on the significance of certain planets as taught by Rabbeinu Bacheye, I figured that I would follow up with a possible theory about a certain passage from Pesachim. The Gemara teaches that initially there was a female demon named Igras the daughter of Machlas who would cause harm to people in the nighttime. Rabbi Chaninah b. Dosa limited this demon's abilities of destruction to only Tuesday nights and Friday nights. Later, Abaye took even this limited amount of time from this demon. (Pesachim 112b)

The Maharsha comments that it is possible that this demon is actually the offspring of the Machlas who was the daughter of Yishmael who was also the wife of Eisav. Citing Midrash, the Maharsha states that just like we know that Adam produced demons for 130 years after he sinned, so too, the union of Machlas and Eisav produced demons.

As mentioned many times in this post, every night/day is considered to be influenced by one of the seven ancient planets (sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). The two nights to which Igras the daughter of Machlas was initially limited to having control of were Tuesday nights which are under the control of Saturn and Friday nights which are of Mars. (See Rashi Berachos 58b and Ibn Ezra's Reishis Chachmah) Mars is associated with Eisav and his descendants and Saturn with Yishmael and his descendants. As such it is interesting to see that the the demon which was the product of Eisav and Yishmael's union (Machlas was Yishmael's daughter and Eisav's wife) was relegated to the two nights that are symbolic of these two forces. Of course, Abaye later banished this demon altogether.