Astrology’s Lies

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

The rabbis argue on astrology’s validity. But 2 opposing views cannot both be correct. How must we decide the matter? 

Anyone who performs a deed because of an astrological calculation or arranges his work or his journeys to fit a time that was suggested by the astrologers is [liable for] lashes, as [Leviticus 19:26] states, “Do not tell fortunes” (Maimonides, Laws of Star Worship 11:9).

All the above matters are falsehood and lies with which the original idolaters deceived the gentile nations in order to lead them after them. It is not fitting for the Jews who are wise sages to be drawn into such emptiness, nor to consider that they have any value  (Ibid. 11:16).

How could Maimonides say that witchcraft and idolatry are all imaginary and foolish, if there was demonstrated proof? Clearly, there is no evidence. To verify what is true, we must prioritize God’s words over man’s, His words being absolute truths:

You are helpless, despite all your art. Let them stand up and help you now: the heaven gazers, the star-gazers, who announce, month by month whatever will come upon you (Isaiah 47:13).

Here, Isaiah taunts fools to test their beliefs which they know are just that: beliefs without evidence. 

Thus said the Lord: “Do not learn to go the way of the nations, and do not be dismayed by signs in the sky; for the nations fear them. For the laws of the nations are delusions” (Jer. 10:2,3).

Jeremiah delivers God’s rebuke that astrology is a delusion. 

The prophets teach of the fallacy of astrology. Their words are direct from God. 

Maimonides explains that some sages might have been misled:

I know that you may search and find sayings of some individual sages in the Talmud and Midrashim whose words appear to maintain that at the moment of a man’s birth, the stars will cause such and such to happen to him. Do not regard this as a difficulty, for it is not fitting for a man to abandon the prevailing law and raise once again the counterarguments and replies (that preceded its enactment). Similarly it is not proper to abandon matters of reason that have already been verified by proofs, shake loose of them, and depend on the words of a single one of the sages from whom possibly the matter was hidden. (Maimonides, “Letter to the Community of Marseille)