"The Way of G-d"
Part 2: "Divine Providence"
Chapter 7: "The Influence of the Stars"
It's ironic that we in modernity are more thunderstruck by the millions of
lights on the ground when our plane descends at night over a city than we are
by the sight of millions of stars and planets in the sky. The ancients,
though, were indeed nonplused by the over arching ring of galaxies over their
heads. Is it because they were more Heaven-centered than we, and we more
earth-centered than they? Probably. But be that as it may, it's clear that
they realized the power of the galaxies while we simply don't.
Perhaps that's why the following statement by G-d doesn't quite move us. G-d
is revealed to have told us the following: "I created twelve constellations
in the firmament, and I created thirty hosts for each one. For each host I
created thirty legions; for each legion I created thirty cohorts; for each
cohort I created thirty maniples; for each maniple I created thirty camps;
and I attached three hundred and sixty-five thousand myriads of stars to each
camp... *all for your sake*" (Berachot 32b). The implication is of course
that the universe is vast, opulent, and chock full of stellar life, and that
somehow or another it all serves *our* needs. So let's now explore the role
the various planets and stars play in our lives.
Ramchal starts by reminding us of the point he'd made a while back: that
there's a Heavenly "backdrop" behind everything in our world that includes
transcendent forces and angels (see 1:5:1). Included among them, we now find,
are the stars and planets, too. What they do is draw out and transfer the
"information" stored in the transcendent forces to our world, and make sure
it's all applied in the appropriate material form.
Like everything else, the exact number of stars and planets, and the potency
accorded each is specific to the tasks at hand and purposeful. Each serves to
fulfill G-d's purposes, and the lot of them help to maintain the material
world and to turn spiritual essences into matter.
This series is dedicated to the memory of Yitzchak Hehrsh ben Daniel,
and Sarah Rivka bas Yaakov Dovid.
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