Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's that in the West?

A few weeks ago I happened to look up at the sky and I noticed that Venus was shining brilliantly in the west and Jupiter was shining brightly somewhat overhead. Both of these planets are extremely bright and I found the sight of them to be quite beautiful. I knew that the two would be moving closer together every night and that this sight would become more and more pleasing with every night. I then remembered something that I had seen in Rabbeinu Bacheye's Kad Hakemech and went to grab my copy to review something that he had written about Purim.

As has been mentioned in this post many times, there are seven objects that were desingated as planets in ancient times. They are: the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The placement of these objects in the sky was considered to help determine how the natural events of the world would occur. Rabbeinu Bacheye mentions that of these seven, two function primarily in what we would generally call more of a natural sense and the other five are more of what we consider to be a supernatural way. The two natural ones are the sun and moon and they very naturally affect the day, weather, tides, etc. The other five, says Rabbeinu Bacheye, can be divided into those that have positive influence and those of negative.

There are two planets with positive influence, two with negative, and one that seems to take the disposition of that which is around it. Mercury is the one that is not independently good or bad, Saturn and Mars are malevolent, and Jupiter and Venus portend good tidings. When Saturn and Mars join together, whatever is being influenced by them will be completely destroyed. Rabbeinu Bacheye then goes to demonstrate how Achashveirosh was symbolic of Saturn and Haman of Mars. Thus, their combination to destroy Klal Yisrael should have had severe ramifications. Trying to offset this were Mordechai, symbolic of Venus, and Esther, symbolic of Jupiter. Rabbeinu Bacheye then goes to show how certain words evoked by Esther actually were referring to Hashem overriding the whole system of nature to save His nation and that Haman tried to belittle this concept.

I find it very interesting that Jupiter (Esther) and Venus (Mordechai) will be fantastically close at Purim (actually coming their closest a few days after Purim, but still unusually close even on Purim). Keep watching towards the west every night after sunset to see this with your own eyes. May we merit to a mazaldikke sha'a and find salvation just as the Jews did many years when they prayed to Hashem to save them from the evil Persian Empire.


Ari S. said...

I didn't mention in the post itself, but the constellation that this will happen in is Aries, that of Nissan. Nissan is the month we were saved in and the month that according to Rebbi Yehoshua that we will be saved in the future.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this beautiful vort... When I was saying Kiddush Levanah this past MS"K, I was wondering about the stars and was nervous that these stars, so close to the new moon, might be a sign of something not so good. In that vein, your Vort was certainly welcome!

Anonymous said...

Amen v'amen!.

Anonymous said...

You got it the other way around. Jupiter is Mordecai (Marduk) and Venus is Esther (Ishtar).

Ari S. said...

There are certainly other opinions as to astrological associations and Mordechai and Esther. In fact, in a different post I compiled many different approaches with Esther including, as you mention, that she is associated with Ishtar and Venus (astrotorah.weeklyshtikle.com/2010/02/esthers-astronomical-identity-crisis.html). This post was specific to Rabbeinu Bacheye's approach. Rabbeinu Bacheye explicitly associates Mordechai with Venus and Esther with Jupiter.