When I’m not driving myself crazy with other things, I’ve been continuing to trawl through the Gemara sources and Tanach to see what else we can learn about how Hashem has typically used comets in the past.
Here’s some good news: There are so many instances in the Gemara where we find discussions of how Hashem used a comet to actually come and fight on behalf of his Tzaddikim / the Jews, and in this post, we’re going to take a closer look at some of those sources.
Let’s kick off with this, from Tractate Rosh Hashana, 11b, which describes how God used a ‘rogue star’ to cause Noah’s flood, aka the mabbul:
“In the six hundredth year of the life of Noah, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on this day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. R’ Yehoshua says: ‘That day was the seventeenth of Iyar, a day on which the constellation Kimah normally sets during the daytime – and the subterranean fountains normally become depleted.
“’But because the generation altered their practices to deviate from the natural order, the Holy One, blessed is He, altered upon them the works of creation. And He brought the constellation Kimah up during the daytime, and He took two stars from Kimah and brought a flood to the world.”
Here’s some more details about those two stars and the Kimah constellation, taken from the Artscroll notes:
“The constellation Kimah is a minor constellation located in the tail of the Lamb [i.e. connected to the ‘Aries’ constellation, which rises in the month of Nissan.]”
Why is it important to know that we’re dealing with a lamb (Aries) here?
More connections will be made when we get to the section, below, about Rebbe Nachman’s story called ‘The Bull and the Ram,’ but for now, suffice to say that the Israelites were redeemed in Nissan, the month connected to the Aries constellation, and were told to slaughter a Paschal LAMB by Hashem.
We also know that this ‘lamb’ was worshipped by the Egyptians (because remember, their pagan gods were all named for celestial bodies) – so the Jews were sending a very deep message to the Egyptians about Who really rules over the heavens.
Now, let’s skip over to Sanhedrin, 95b, where the Sages are discussing how Sancheiriv’s army was miraculously killed by Hashem as they camped outside the Jerusalem city walls on the eve of Pesach. (There’s that Nissan / lamb thing going on again!):
“The wicked Sancheiriv came upon the Jews with an army…The Gemara adds that this was not the only time a force so vast was marshaled against the Jews. And so they came upon Abraham, and so they are destined to come with Gog and Magog.”
According to the Maharsha:
“The three enemy forces mentioned here – Sancheiriv’s army, the army of the four kings and Gog and Magog were all defeated through clearly miraculous circumstances. Furthermore, all three wars represent turning points in world history.”
The Gemara continues:
“And an angel of Hashem went forth and slew one hundred and eighty five thousand of the campy of Assyria, and they arose in the morning, and behold they were all dead corpses….With what did [the angel] strike them? R’ Eliezer says: [The angel] struck them with its hand…The Jews who witnessed the splitting of the Sea saw the same hand that was destined to punish Sancheiriv.”
The Gemara is setting up a link between the ‘modus operandi’ God used to bring about the miracles of the Exodus, and the punishment of Pharoah’s army, and the way Sancheiriv’s army was miraculously killed. What is that ‘modus operandi’? Read on.
The Gemara then puts forth different options for how the angel Gabriel (God’s agent for this purpose) killed the Assyrians, with one saying that ‘Gabriel breathed into their nostrils and they died’, while others saying that ‘Gabriel clapped his hands and they died’.
Elsewhere in the Gemara, we’re taught that Nadav and Avihu died the same way that Sancheiriv’s army died. How did they die? They were electrocuted! The descriptions above also accord with the idea that ‘something’ disturbed the static electricity held in the dielectric air of our atmosphere, and channeled it down in a way that it electrocuted literally hundreds of thousands of Assyrians.
In 96a, the Gemara tells us:
“With reference to Abraham’s war against the four kings, Scripture states: And at night, he and his servants deployed against them and struck them etc….R’ Yitzhak Nafcha said:…the implication is that ‘night acts’ were performed on behalf of Abraham (i.e. the very stars in the sky fought on his behalf.)”
TO SUM UP WHAT WE’VE LEARNED SO FAR:
- The stars came and ‘fought’ for Avraham against the four kings
- There’s a link between how the four kings were miraculously defeated, how Sancheiriv’s Assyrian army was miraculously killed (on Pesach Eve), and the future war of Gog and Magog.
- There’s also a link between Sancheiriv’s defeat and the events of the Exodus – with the ‘same hand’ being used to punish the Assyrians and the Egyptians.
- We’re explicitly told that God took two stars from the ‘Kimah’ constellation to cause the mabbul
- The Kimah constellation corresponds to the month of Nissan, and Aries, the Ram.
- We know that the Exodus occurred in Nissan, and that the miracle involving Sancheiriv was also Nissan (erev Pesach).
- We also know that there is a famous teaching that the Jews will be redeemed in the future, too, in the month of Nissan.
OTHER TIMES THAT HASHEM USED ‘COMETS’ TO COME AND FIGHT FOR THE JEWISH PEOPLE
Now, let’s head over to Tractate Brachot, 58a, where there are some more connections to be made. There, it says (talking about Hashem’s power):
“Who performs great deeds that are beyond comprehension…and the strength – This is a reference to the Exodus from Egypt, for it is stated regarding the Exodus: Israel saw the great hand etc. And the splendor – This is a reference to the sun and the moon, which stopped for Joshua, as it is stated: Then the sun stood still and the moon stopped… even everything in heaven and earth – This is a reference to the battle against Sisera, for it is stated regarding that battle: From heaven they fought; the stars from their courses, etc [fought against Sisera.]”
That same section of the Gemara then goes on to talk about the fall of Rome, the war against Amalek and the war of Gog and Magog.
What the Gemara in Brachot seems to be telling us clearly is that:
- God regularly moves stars out of their regular orbits, and the celestial bodies to fight against the Jews’ enemies.
- When this occurs, it’s often referred to in Scripture as ‘the great hand’ of Hashem.
- This ‘great hand’ showed up at the Exodus; when Joshua fought the Caananite nations; and when Deborah the Prophetess fought against Sisera.
- There is a connection between these events, and future events including the fall of Rome, the final disappearance of Amalek and the war of Gog and Magog.
MORE REFERENCES TO THE ‘KIMAH’ CONSTELLATION
In case the links weren’t starting to come into sharp enough focus, in the very next section, Brachot 58b, the Gemara then starts talking about comets, the ‘Kimah’ constellation, and the blessings a person should say when they experience:
- Lightning and
- Tempests (i.e. very strong winds)
As we know from THIS post, all these things start happening in abundance when a large comet approaches and starts disrupting the earth’s weather and other things.
The Gemara has a whole discussion about earthquakes in Brachot 58b, that makes it clear that earthquakes happen because God is upset about the ongoing exile of the Jewish people, and that He’s shaking the ground in sympathy, as it were, with Jewish suffering.
I.e. – the earthquakes are on our side!
What’s even more interesting, though, is the discussion about the comets and the Kimah constellation. The Gemara tells us:
“Upon seeing the Zikin, one says Blessed are You… Whose strength and might fill the world…What is the meaning of zikin? It is a kochva d’shavit.”
The notes explain that Rashi describes this kochva d’shavit as having a long shape, like that of a rod, while the Rambam describes it as a star with a tail – clearly, a comet.
“Shmuel said: The paths of heaven are as clear to me as the paths of Nehardea, except for the path of a kochva d’shavit, of which I am ignorant.”
The Jewish sages who codified the Gemara knew all of the heavens inside and out, as Shmuel attests. But, even they couldn’t predict the path of a comet, because (as we learnt in THIS post) a comet’s tail is always changing, and the amount of ‘drag’ it exerts on the body of the comet can radically change its course and path.
To put this another way, a comet’s course is only known to God, and is 100% affected by the actions and teshuva of the Jewish people, and mankind more generally. No-one can predict ‘comet events’ with any accuracy!
MORE ABOUT THE KIMAH (ARIES) CONSTELLATION
Now – no coincidence here! – the Gemara starts talking about the Kimah constellation, that we already know was responsible for the mabbul, and by inference (because it’s part of the Aries constellation that governs Nissan), probably also played a major part in whatever ‘comet’ experiences were going on at the time of the Exodus, and Sancheiriv – and maybe the other times too.
(I haven’t found any specific dates for Sisera’s defeat or Joshua’s miracle over the Ayalon valley, that we’ve seen are also associated with ‘stars’ fighting for the Jews. If you, dear reader, can help fill in those blanks, that would be amazing.)
Let’s get back to the discussion about the Kimah, and other, constellations in Brachot 58b:
“He makes [the constellations] Ash, Kesil and Kimah…. What is the reason for the name Kimah? Shmuel said: It is called Kimah because it looks like a hundred stars.”
In modern astronomy, ‘Kimah’ has been identified with the Pleiades star cluster.
I’m going to paraphrase the next bit, but feel free to go and look all this up for yourselves and draw your own conclusions.
The Gemara explains that the constellation ‘Ash’ is also called ‘Yotha’, and that it could either be the ‘tail of the Ram’ (i.e. Aries) or the ‘head of the bull’ (i.e. Taurus, which equates to the month of Iyar, when Noah’s flood began).
The Gemara then explains that ‘Ash’ follows ‘Kimah’ (i.e. Taurus follows Nissan) because: “When the Holy One, Blessed is He, wanted to bring a flood on the world, He took two stars from Kimah…And when He wanted to close the gap [in Kimah], He took two stars from Ash and closed it up.”
The discussion ends:
“Rav Nachman said: In the future, the Holy One, Blessed be He, will restore [Ash’s stars] to her…”
Why is this so important to know?
Because Benayahu explains that God will take the stars from Kimah, and put them back in Ash, and then create two new stars for Kimah, in fulfillment of the Prophet Isaiah’s statement about what’s going to happen when Moshiach comes and the redemption actually happens, that: “Behold, I am creating new heavens and a new earth.”
IN OTHER WORDS:
- It appears that the time that redemption / Moshiach is going to occur, is when Kimah / Ash are ascendant (Nissan / Iyar).
- We now know that at that time, stars will once again be moving around the heavens in weird ways – two stars will ‘disappear’ from Kimah and go back to Ash, and Kimah will then have two ‘new’ stars appear in their place.
- The last time two stars ‘disappeared’ and then ‘reappeared’ from Kimah, Noah’s flood happened as a result.
- If the Tzaddik of the generation, Noah, had prayed for mankind to make teshuva, the flood wouldn’t necessarily have destroyed the way it did…. So it’s still all to pray for IN 2017.
REBBE NACHMAN’S TALE OF THE BULL AND THE RAM
Now, let’s take a look at Rebbe Nachman’s tale of the Bull and the Ram. You can read that story for yourself HERE, but here’s the main points:
There’s a king who decreed that anyone who wanted to stay in his land would either have to stop being religious, or leave.
Some left, many stayed, and the ones that stayed become marranos, or hidden Jews.
This first king died and his son takes over. He rules with an iron hand, and his ministers start plotting to kill him. One of the ministers is a Jewish marrano, and he goes to tell the King about the plot, and saves his life.
The king then swears to give the marrano whatever his heart desires – so the marrano asks for the right to wear his tallith and tefillin in public, and openly practice as a Jew.
The king begrudgingly agrees.
This king dies and is succeeded by his benevolent son, who is really into astrology, and asks his astrologers what could destroy his children. The astrologers tell him to be careful about a bull and a ram.
This king dies, and is succeeded by his son, who also rules in a very autocratic way, and comes up with a plan to conquer the entire world without war. This son also bans all bulls and rams from his kingdom.
This king creates a statue made of gold, silver and other metals [similar to the one seen by Nebuchadnezzer in the book of Daniel] and puts it on a hill, so that ‘all seven planets shine on it’. People start asking this statue what they should do in life (i.e. worshipping it), and by way of this statue, the king conquers the whole world.
This statue only has power if the king ‘lowers the haughty and raises up the lowly’. So, the king issues a command that all the privileges, rights and rank should be stripped from the ‘worthy’ people of his realm, including the Jew’s privilege to wear his tallit and tefillin.
One night, the king has a dream, were the bull (Taurus) and the ram (Aries) signs of the zodiac are laughing at him. He wakes up extremely angry and frightened, and asks all his wise men what’s going on, and whether its connected to his family’s tradition that they could be destroyed by a bull and a ram.
One wise man speaks up and tells him about an ‘iron rod’ that can dispel all his fear, and the king takes his family and sets out to go there. BUT – the road is guarded by the angel that oversees anger, and this angel is in charge of all the destructive forces in the world. Only he knows the path to the iron rod.
When they get to this angel, he directs the King and his entourage to go on a path that passes through a fire that is so hot, that a person is burned if they get within four miles of it.
The entourage looked, and they saw kings and Jews wearing tallit and tefillin walking through this fire. When the king sees this, and against the advice of his counsellor, he decides he and his family can also cross through the fire. They are burnt to a crisp.
When then counsellor returns home and tells everyone what happened, the Marrano has this to say:
“They were destroyed because of me. The astrologers saw something, but they didn’t know what they saw. From the skin of the bull, tefillin are made. From the wool of the ram, the tzitzit tassels of the tallith are made. Therefore, because [of the tallit and tefillin], the king and his family were destroyed.
“The kings who walked through the fire unharmed have in their land Jews who wear the tallit and tefillin. But [this king] did not allow the Jews in his land to wear the tallit and tefillin, and therefore he was destroyed.”
THE CONNECTION WITH PSALM 2
Rebbe Nachman’s story is connected to Psalm 2, which Artscroll tells us: ‘alludes to the encounter between the nations and the Messiah.’
Once again, there are a lot of ‘hints’ about what’s going to be, when the Moshiach is revealed:
“Why do nations throng and regimes talk in vain? The kings and princes of the earth take their stand and conspire together against Hashem, and against His Moshiach…He who sits in heaven will laugh at them and mock them. He will speak to them in His anger and His wrath, and terrify them….[Talking to the Moshiach]:
“You will smash them with a rod of iron, like a potter’s vessel you will shatter them. O kings, be wise, o judges of the earth, be disciplined! Serve Hashem with awe, so that you may rejoice when there is trembling.
“Yearn for purity, lest He grow wrathful and your way will be doomed, for blaze in a brief moment will His anger. Praiseworthy are all those who trust in Him.”
TO SUM UP WHAT WE JUST LEARNT FROM REBBE NACHMAN AND PSALM 2:
- There are four ‘kings’ or kingdoms, and these correspond to the four kings who persecuted and exiled the Jews.
- The last kingdom is Rome / Edom / Xtianity.
- The kingdom’s astrologers have a tradition that a ‘bull and a ram’ can destroy the (non-Jewish) king and his descendants – but they don’t know how, or what it really means.
- The non-Jewish king and his family are ultimately mislead by the angel of anger and destroyed by fire.
- The non-Jewish kings who encourage their subjects to practice Yiddishkeit can ‘pass through the fire’ unscathed, as can practicing Jews.
- The tallit (wool) and the tefillin (leather) are what mitigates the power of the ‘ram’ (Aries) and the ‘bull’ (Taurus).
- The non-Jewish king and his descendants are killed because of the Marrano, i.e., the Moshiach.
- The world’s leaders who are ‘conspiring’ against Hashem (and the Jewish people) are going to be smashed into pieces when the world starts ‘trembling’.
- Anyone who’s at least yearning to serve Hashem properly, and to act appropriately, and to have emuna will come through the process OK. (And clearly, it also helps if they’re careful to lay their tefillin every day and wear tzitzit, if they’re Jewish men…)
I’M NOT PRETENDING I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT ALL THIS MEANS
Or, how it all fits together. I know there are people out there with a much higher level of Torah scholarship than I possess, and I’d be very happy to get more ideas or pointers about what all this may be telling us, tachlis.
But at the end of the day, God has been pushing me to get all this stuff out there, because some clear themes are poking through that if we trust in God, or at least WANT to trust in God and to walk in His path, we’ll be OK.
That’s not my idea or my opinion – that’s the message from Rebbe Nachman, the Prophet Isaiah, the Sages of the Gemara, and many other huge Jewish leaders, too, right up to our own modern times.
Emuna and emunat Tzaddikim (which includes believing in ALIVE Torah sages, and not just in Torah sages who already passed on) are the key to being on the right side of the comet equation.