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Lech Lecha(Genesis 12-17)

Mazal Tov!

Every person is born underneath an astrological field, a particular energy-flow that determines many specifics of life – personality, circumstances, potential. Now in Hebrew this is called "mazel" – literally an alignment of stars. But it can also mean "luck," as when we wish someone Mazel Tov.

A person's mazel is pre-programmed from birth. But in Parshat Lech Lecha, God takes Abraham outside and tells him to "see if you can count the stars." God changed Abraham's name and metaphorically lifted him above the stars to re-align his destiny.

Why did Abraham merit this special treatment? At the time, the prevailing world system was idolatry. Abraham saw the falsity of this idea, and lifted himself above societal norms. For this act of transcendence, God responded in kind by lifting Abraham out of the natural system – "above the stars."

This established a principle for all eternity – that the Jewish people are above "mazel." We need not accept the "fate of the stars." And surely, history bears this out: The Jewish people have outlasted all the great empires like the Greeks and Romans. And even in our lifetime Jews in Israel have defied all odds by thriving in a land surrounded by enemies.

But beyond a national level, this idea also has powerful application to our personal lives. The Talmud tells us that the daughter of Rebbe Akiva was destined to die on her wedding day. At the wedding meal, the bride absentmindedly stuck her hairpin into the wall behind her – unknowingly killing a cobra that was prepared to strike. Later, when they found the dead cobra and realized the bride's good fortune, they asked her to recall the day's events. She reported that in the midst of the wedding festivities, she had noticed some poor people outside, and she'd left her own wedding in order to bring them food. An incredible act of humanity!

So here we see the principle in action: This woman's super-human act raised herself out of the pre-set system – changing her destiny and saving her life. If we aspire, we can do it, too.

November 5, 2005

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Visitor Comments: 19

(16) Anonymous, October 21, 2015 11:55 AM

Great article! Thanks for posting!

(15) Anonymous, October 26, 2014 1:00 PM

Love this!

This is a great article! Thank you so much for posting this!

(14) Anonymous, July 4, 2014 1:34 PM

This is great! Thank you so much for posting it!

(13) L, December 2, 2012 3:15 AM

G-d in action

That was a very inspiring article Rabbi Shraga. I do agree with you and based on my own past experiences I support your view about "a particular energy-flow that determines many specifics" of one's life. I recently went to an event in NYC, Two ladies were standing by the door, one consoling the other who was crying. I asked if I could be of help, they said not, and explained that the one crying had lost her purse and did not have any money to return home, or to make a phone call so that someone from her house could pick her up. She was not from the area, and did not know how she would go back home. I did not ask any more question, but pull money out of my pocket, enough for the lady to at least take a taxi where she needed it to go. At first she did not want to take it, as she did not know me, then said she would take the money under the condition that I accept payment later. I said okay. She attempted numerous times calling her house, but no one answered. The woman left in a taxi and I continue to my event. Next morning I went to work, and found a big surprise, a $500. paid class I previously wanted to take, but couldn't because of money scarcity at the time. To my amazement, the person who paid for the class was someone I didn't even know well. That same day, I went to eat with some friends at a restaurant. After my friends and I finished eating, I asked for the bill, and graciously the waiter said, that a couple that was sitting on the south corner of the room, "paid for your table prior to leaving". I was totally stoned. Nevertheless, the lady I had helped in New York City the prior day, sent to me the money I had given her when she lost her purse, along with a very sweet note.."energy-flow". Thank you very much for leading us to a world of constant analysis, and may G-d continues brightening your mind.

(12) iubelo, July 9, 2011 9:52 AM


I consider this total and utter nonsense!Believing that the stars have any power whatsoever on people's lives amounts to plain idol worship and polytheism!i have always thought the Torah teaches to believe in haShem ONLY and not in these pathetic astrological superstitions.

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