What are the Mazalot?




The Hebrew Zodiac known in Hebrew as the Mazalot (מזלות) is the Jewish knowledge of the stars, the constellations, and how our birth days and times effect who we are as individuals. The Hebrew Zodiac differs from the “traditional” Western zodiac that consists of the twelve signs (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces) historically based on Roman and Egyptian tradition. 

The two main differences between Western and Hebrew zodiac is the timing and that Western Zodiac is horoscopic, meaning to form divinations or conclusions based on horoscope of someone’s birth. The timing of the Hebrew Zodiac is based on the Hebrew (or Jewish) lunar calendar that celebrates the new year in the Greogorian calendar’s fall season. This new year’s celebration in the Hebrew calendar is called Rosh HaShanah (Head of the Year). The timing of the Western zodiac is based on the Gregorian (or Sun) calendar, developed by Pope Gregory the XIII in 1582, which most of the world uses today. The Gregorian calendar begins and ends each day with the sunrise and sunset, the Hebrew calendar begins each new day at sunset and that day ends at the following sunset. Based on the phases of the moon and the verse from Bereshit (Genesis) “there was evening and there was morning…”, the Hebrew calendar days have no fixed length or number of hours. The differences between the Hebrew calendar and the Gregorian calendar, moon calendar verses sun calendar, create a significant difference in the placement of the Zodiac signs throughout each year. 

If you were born on December 22nd, 1970, according to the Gregorian calendar and Western Zodiac your sign is Capricorn (The Mountain Sea-Goat), but according to the Hebrew calendar the Gregorian date is translated to the 25rd of Kislev, 5731 which makes your sign Keshet (Sagittarius) which was the preceding sign of Capricorn in the Gregorian calendar.

The second difference between the Hebrew and Western zodiac: the use of horoscopes. The Western zodiac focuses primarily on the Sun sign (the position of the sun at your Gregorian date of birth) and draws conclusions about your personality, relationships, and future actions. The conclusions are based on a horoscope or a chart of the stars and planets at the time of your birth, this chart includes angles and “houses” depicting the placement of the constellations and planets. The placement of the celestial bodies is said to determine the actions and character traits that a person will carry throughout their life. Modern science has performed many controlled studies to determine the validity of Astrology and horoscopic practices, the studies failed to prove any validity of the claims a horoscope makes for a person’s relationships and future actions.

The Hebrew Zodiac is not horoscopic in that Jewish teachers and sages have never claimed that the position of the celestial bodies can determine someone’s fate or future. The use of prediction and omens used by other cultures has always been forbidden to the Jewish people.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 18:9-11 states:


9. When you have come to the land the Lord, your God, is giving you, you shall not learn to do like the abominations of those nations.

ט. כִּ֤י אַתָּה֙ בָּ֣א אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ נֹתֵ֣ן לָ֑ךְ לֹֽא־תִלְמַ֣ד לַֽעֲשׂ֔וֹת כְּתֽוֹעֲבֹ֖ת הַגּוֹיִ֥ם הָהֵֽם:


10. There shall not be found among you anyone who passes his son or daughter through fire, a soothsayer, a diviner of [auspicious] times, one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,

י. לֽא־יִמָּצֵ֣א בְךָ֔ מַֽעֲבִ֥יר בְּנֽוֹ־וּבִתּ֖וֹ בָּאֵ֑שׁ קֹסֵ֣ם קְסָמִ֔ים מְעוֹנֵ֥ן וּמְנַחֵ֖שׁ וּמְכַשֵּֽׁף:


11. or a charmer, a pithom sorcerer, a yido'a sorcerer, or a necromancer.

יא. וְחֹבֵ֖ר חָ֑בֶר וְשֹׁאֵ֥ל אוֹב֙ וְיִדְּעֹנִ֔י וְדֹרֵ֖שׁ אֶל־הַמֵּתִֽים:


The Talmud (Shabbat 23) mentions the significance of the time and sky a person was born under. Most Jewish sages have agreed that the Mazalot or Hebrew Zodiac can be used to determine personality traits and be used to perform character analysis, but it is forbidden to use horoscopes to determine future actions. The Jews have been taught that G-d created the universe with His angels, celestial bodies, and positioned the stars in the sky, therefore we must worship He who is in the heavens above the stars. The stars are one of the many tools G-d uses to connect us to Himself. The Talmud states, “Ein Mazal LeYisrael” or “there is no Mazal (luck) for the Jewish people” meaning the Jewish people are lifted above star worship and our destinies cannot be determined by the Zodiac. 

If our Mazal determines our personality traits, how can we learn more about ourselves and use this tool to improve ourselves and strengthen our weaknesses? Rabbi Zamir Cohen, a great sage of our time, covers many Torah, Talmudic, and Kabbalistic topics in his video lectures found on YouTube. Not all his videos have English subtitles, but there are two lectures in which he explains how our personalities are determined by our Mazal. You can watch these videos here and here

The Hebrew Zodiac is divided into groups of elements: Earth, Fire, Water, and Air, signs in the same group share similar character traits. The Earth signs are Gedi (Capricorn), Betula (Virgo), and Shor (Taurus). The Fire signs are Ariye (Leo), Taleh (Aries), and Keshet (Sagittarius). The Air signs are Dli (Aquarius), Moznaim (Libra), and Teomim (Gemini). The Water signs are Akrav (Scorpio), Sartan (Cancer), and Dagim (Pisces).

A few examples: My sister (@aninterlocuter) is a Taleh (Aries) and I am an Ariye (Leo) by birth, though our personality and how we relate to life are completely different, we are both very passionate about things we care about and about our opinions likely because we are both fire signs. Gedi (Capricorn) can sometimes appear to be emotionally distant from people they care about, but their love and loyalty runs deeper than just their emotions, someone with the sign of Gedi is said to be very wise and loving. 

Our signs can also reflect negative aspects of our personalities, things we may struggle with. Each sign corresponds to a planet that was visible at the time of our birth, the planets reveal the aspects that can be used for good or for bad. A Dli (Aquarius) is born under visible Shabbtai (Saturn) parallel to Shabbat day (a rest day) a Dli may struggle with being idle, idle in their actions or possess idle thoughts. If a Dli (Aquarius) does not work to overcome this struggle of idleness or laziness, they will not accomplish their plans. A Moznaim (Libra) is born under the visible Kokhav-Nogah (Venus), known as the bright planet, a person born under Venus will struggle with modesty and humility because their personality tends to be more “show-y” and passionate. 

Each of us is created perfectly in G-d’s image according to his plan, with our good and less-good qualities. The Hebrew Zodiac may help us understand ourselves better, but we must always remember that we are beautiful humans worthy of love and are all the children of G-d. We must never try to change who we are or manipulate our personality or the personality of a seemingly “difficult” child. To say that someone’s personality is flawed or to attempt to become something we are not is to tell G-d that he made a mistake in his perfect creation. 


Still not sure what your Hebrew Zodiac sign is, but you would like to buy some Poppy Hayoun Designs merch? Never fear, on my homepage you will find a blog post with the title “Calculator” where you will find a handy Hebrew/Gregorian birth date and zodiac sign converter tool. Plug in your Gregorian birth date and the calculator will produce your equivalent Hebrew birth date and corresponding Hebrew Zodiac sign. A calculator that yields results more interesting than your high school graphing calculator’s results!


Use the Hebrew Zodiac calculator tool to find your Hebrew Zodiac sign, and start learning more about what makes you special! Want to encourage your child to embrace who they are then check out the kids and youth section for your young stars and the Hebrew Zodiac baby onesies are such a cute way to share your little one’s personality!


Shop your sign and #buyyourPHD!


Best of luck!

Avigail



References:

https://www.ouisrael.org/torah-tidbits/astrology-judaism/

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/361901/jewish/Angels-and-Mazalot.htm

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