Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Satanic Strategy of Scorpius

The fascinating episode of Yaakov Avinu’s battle with the angel is recounted in this week’s parsha. For the first time in his life, Yaakov Avinu was taking control. As a young man he was still in the household of parents. Then he fled to Lavan’s house out of fear of his, slightly, older brother. Now, he was finally on his way to confront his brother. He was no longer subjugated to anyone else. It was at this time that this angel, Eisav’s angel, chose to attack.

Perhaps, this point in time was more of an opportune time to attack then can be seen in the pesukim themselves. Rav Yehonasan Eibshitz zt"l (Tiferes Yehonasan) states that this episode happened on Yom Kippur. We know that the first ten days of Tishrei are days of judgement, but, perhaps, this was even more extreme for Yaakov Avinu.

Rabbeinu Bachye (Bereishis 34:25) informs us that the third of anything is considered to be under the astrological influence of Mars and Scorpius. Both of these celestial objects are associated with destruction and desolation. Interestingly, both are associated with redness. Mars is the Red Planet (Maadim in Hebrew) and Scorpius' brightest star is Antares which is very red. In fact, its name means opposite Mars in Greek. Eisav was also associated with redness. In addition, Rabbeinu Bachye tells us, that the third of any item is subjected to the Angel of Death. The Ramban, when discussing the goat that was sent away on Yom Kippur (and also the red heifer) tells us that these ideas were taken and inserted into idol worship as some of its basic ideas. The other nations, and Eisav, were interested in tapping into what they perceived to be powers of the underworld. It is on Yom Kippur that it appears as if Klal Yisrael sends a sacrifice to appease these powers in order for them to remain quite during judgement. Of course, Klal Yisrael would not do this and this sacrifice was ordered by Hashem; however, its appearance seems to display this concept.

There is a phenomenon called the precession of the equinoxes. Without boring the reader with the details, the basic concept is that the constellations shift slowly over the course of many years. The reason why each mazal is symbolic of a specific month is because the sun is perceived to be located in that mazal’s region of the sky (see Rashi R"H 11b). Due to this precession, the technical order has been slowly shifting throughout time and we are currently one month off from the way Chazal describe the mazalos. Therefore, based on the old description the month of Nisan would be Dagim and not Adar. Initially, the month of Tishrei would have been described as being the month of Akrav, Scorpius.

In our scenario, we have Yaakov Avinu as the third of the Patriarchs. He is found alone on the final day of judgement in the month of the Akrav (although the equinox had already slipped into Libra, by the time Yom Kippur would the sun would already be in Scorpius). This would have seemed to be an opportune time for the Angel of Death, or the forces of Eisav, to strike. The third item is subjected to these influences and this item, Yaakov Avinu, is alone with nothing to protect him. It is in the month of Scorpius and the final day of the judgement. Yaakov Avinu, however, was victorious and, perhaps, this paved the way for Yaakov Avinu’s grandchildren, in the future, to have no evil inclination rule over them on Yom Kippur (Yoma 20a). Perhaps, this also had something to do with the fact that Scorpius was later reassigned, via precession, to Cheshvan instead of Tishrei.

When Klal Yisrael seem to be giving a present to these destructive forces, perhaps, what they are really displaying is how their father was able to overcome these forces. On the surface level it would appear as if Klal Yisrael has no chance to fend off these overpowering forces; therefore, it appears as if they are sending a present to them with the goat sent to Azazel. This would be comparable to Yaakov Avinu being seen as the major underdog in this battle. However, Klal Yisrael is able to overcome these forces. We are really sending a present to Hashem. We are showing that even though the objective onlooker may think that we feel powerless to these forces, we recognize that, with trust in Hashem and the observance of His Torah that we will succeeed. Yaakov Avinu overpowered both the angel and his brother. He then went to travel to Sukkos (Bereishis 33:17), so too, we overpower these forces every year and then travel from Yom Kippur into Sukkos.

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