I was really planning to leave the whole ‘Kochav Yaacov / Planet X’ subject alone for a while, and to write more about different things, but God doesn’t seem to be letting me.
I sit down to type, and all that comes out is….Nibiru! Idol worship! Star gazing!
So, instead of fighting the impulse, I’m bowing to it. I’ve been reading a lot of things in our holy sources that are directly related to all the ‘Nibiru’ phenomena that I suspect we’re all going to start hearing a lot more about, and I guess God wants some solid Jewish sources in place to damp down the paranoia, panic attacks and crazy conspiracy theories that seem to flourish in the wake of ‘Nibiru’, when God’s out the picture.
It’s crucial to understand that STAR WORSHIP = IDOL WORSHIP, and that giving the planets / sun / moon / comets ‘powers’ without connecting their effects on the planet (and on human beings…) directly back to Hashem is the essence of idol worship.
All those ‘deities’ we may be familiar with from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome (to name the most well-known) were all representatives of the planets and other celestial bodies.
Even today, the hard-core pagan astrologists out there have sites that read like NASA probe reports.
Whenever we fall into the error of being ‘scared of Nibiru’ – we’re effectively worshipping idols, same as our ancestors did when they used to offer incense to the ‘Queen of Heaven’ (i.e., planet Venus) to ‘stop it’ from ravaging planet earth. I’ll give you some more historical sources of this in a following post, but for now, let’s go back to our Gemara, Tractate Avoda Zara II, 54b (Artscroll translation) to see how our Sages explained this phenomenon:
“The Rabbis taught in a Baraisa: The philosophers asked the Jewish Sages in Rome, ‘if your God is not favorably disposed toward an idol, why doesn’t He get rid of it?!’ The Jewish Sages replied to the philosophers: ‘If they would worship something that the world has no need for, He would indeed get rid of it. But behold, they worship the sun, the moon, the stars and the constellations.
“’Should He destroy the world because of the fools?! Rather, God allows the world to function according to its natural order, and the fools who have acted corruptly will ultimately have to give an accounting of their sins.’”
A little later on in that same Gemara (55a), there’s a discussion about why the matters connected with idol worship / paganism often seem to be so convincing, as though they really can affect the world without Hashem, and predict the future:
“Rava bar Rav Yitzhak said to Rav Yehuda, ‘There is this pagan temple in our place that whenever there is a drought, and the world needs rain, [the idol] appears [to its followers] in a dream and tells them: ‘Sacrifice a man to me and rain will come.’ They sacrifice a man, and rain rain indeed comes. How do you explain this?’
“Rav Yehuda replied to him:…’What is the meaning of that which is written: ‘And lest you raise your eyes to the heaven and you see the sun, and the moon, and the stars – the entire legion of heaven – and you be drawn astray and bow to them and worship them, which Hashem, your god, has apportioned to all the peoples under the entire heaven!’
“‘This teaches that God smoothed the way for the idolaters to slip by means of stuff and nonsense, such as these deceptive dreams, in order to drive the idolaters from the world. If a person wishes to pursue the vice of idolatry, his free will is given ample opportunity to do so, until the point of utter self-destruction.’”
Again, sitting in our vantage point of 2017, we think that our ancestors were the most primitive idiots alive for ‘worshipping’ little stone idols and turning their backs on Hashem.
But here’s the thing: the ancients used those ‘stone idols’ as a way of ‘tapping into’ the power that really does exist in the Heavens, and that is the root and essence of idol worship.
For example, the pagan god ‘Markulis’ that shows up in a lot of the Gemara’s discussion was actually named by the Romans for the planet Mercury – and so it was with all the ‘pantheon’ of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.
Even on a very ‘materialistic’ plane, the celestial bodies effect our weather, food supply, health and moods. On the spiritual plane, they can effect our destiny – if that’s what we believe, as the Gemara discusses in detail, and as I will BH bring in a post soon.
It seems to me that part of the test of ‘Kochav Yaacov / Nibiru’ is to not fall back into the same mistakes our idol-worshiping ancestors made, who attributed power to the celestial bodies that was disconnected from Hashem.
Hashem is pulling the strings in the heavens (and everywhere else).