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Mercury, Mars, and More

Rabbi Yehoshua Alt

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Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg Ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the Sefer, Fascinating Insights: Torah Perspectives On Unique Topics. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes, and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

Mercury, Mars, and More

The Gemara mentions seven celestial bodies:חמה, נוגה, כוכב, לבנה, שבתאי, צדק, מאדים, the sun, Venus, Mercury, moon, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars.[1] R’ Shimshon Miostripoli[2]  brings the Rambam who states in מורה נבוכים that four of theseמורים על הטובה, indicate good—חמה, נוגה, כוכב, צדק—and three indicate bad—מאדים, שבתאילבנה. These three bring destruction—שבתאי to the body, לבנה to one’s Torah, and מאדים to money, financial loss. Rashi comments on ויבא יעקב שלם that Yaakov was intact physically (as he recovered from the injury inflicted by Esav’s Malach), financially (although he gave Esav’s gifts) and in his learning (as he forgot nothing while in the house of Lavan).[3] Therefore, שלם are the first letters of שבתאי, לבנה, מאדים!


The Chida[4] (1724-1806) writes that Hashem commanded us in Chodesh, Shabbos and Mila to annul the bad three—מאדים, שבתאילבנה—and be saved from them. The Mitzva of Shabbos is under the domain of שבתאי. In fact, the first three letters of שבתאי spell שבת!ראש חודש  is under the domain of the לבנה as it is dependent on the moon when we determineראש חודש. Finally, מילה is under מאדים as the Gemara[5] says that one who is born during the hour of מאדים will be one who spills blood which can be one who is a Mohel. The Greeks wanted to abolish these three Mitzvos so that we would be under the dominion of the three bad stars.

[1] Shabbos 156a. This is known asשצם  חנכל as it is the initials of these seven.

[2] Nitzotzai Shimshon, Vayishlach s.v. והנה.

[3] Breishis 33:18. A hint to this is found in the word שלם as it is the initials of שלדה, לימוד, ממון, skeleton referring to his physical body, learning, and money. Another hint is found in the trait of Yaakov which is אמת (Micha 7:20) as it is the first letters of אברים, ממון, תורה, limbs, referring to the body, money, and Torah.

[4] דבש לפימערכת ח, 7, s.v. חודש.

[5] Shabbos 156a.

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