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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 books, Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights. 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.
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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. R’ Shimshon Miostripoli brings the Rambam who states in מורה נבוכים that four of these מורים על הטובה, indicate good — חמה, נוגה, כוכב, צדק — and three indicate bad — מאדים, שבתאי and לבנה. 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). Therefore, שלם are the first letters of שבתאי, לבנה, מאדים!
The Chida writes that Hashem commanded us in Chodesh, Shabbos and Mila to annul the bad three — מאדים, שבתאי and לבנה, 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 determine ראש חודש. Finally, מילה is under מאדים as the Gemara 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.
The following are some hints to the three Mitzvos of Shabbos, Mila and Rosh Chodesh:
1) The miracle of Chanuka was through five חשמונאים. חמש, five, forms an acronym of חודש, מילה שבת.
2) The miracle of Chanuka was with oil. Oil anoints — משח. משח forms the acronym of מילה, שבת, חודש.
3) In addition to the decrees on the three Mitzvos, the Greeks also wanted them להשכיחם תורתיך, to forget the Torah, as we say in על הנסים. This is hinted to in מזמור שיר חנוכת הבית which we say on Chanuka, where it saysולא שמחת אויבי לי, do not let my enemies rejoice over me, asשמחת is an acronym for שבת, מילה, חודש, תורה. My enemies, the Greeks were not happy because they were unsuccessful at taking these away from us as we still have Torah and Mitzvos.
 Shabbos 156a. This is known as חנכ”ל שצ”ם, an acronym for these seven.
 Nitzozai Shimshon, Vayishlach s.v. והנה.
 Breishis 33:18. A hint to this is found in the word שלם as it is an acronym for שלדה, לימוד, ממון, skeleton referring to his physical body, learning and money. Another hint is found in the trait of Yaakov, אמת (Micha 7:20), as it forms an acronym for אברים, ממון, תורה, limbs — referring to the body, money and Torah.
 דבש לפי, מערכת ח, 7, s.v. חודש.
 Shabbos 156a.
 Chida in Yosef Tehillos on Tehillim 30, s,v, מזמור.
 The Chassam Sofer points out that the word חשמן (as in חשמונאים) when rearranged spells ח’ שמן as the miracle of the oil was eight days.
 The first letters of מזמור שיר חנכת הבית spell משחה. This hints to the miracle of the oil, as in שמן המשחה, anointing oil.
 On Chanuka we light candles and Torah is compared to light, as it says תורה אור (Mishlei 6:23).
 Tehillim 30:2.