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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