We know that the ‘red string’ is an talisman that is effective against the ‘evil eye’. What is effective against negative mazal (astrological influences)? Can we avoid ‘bad luck‘?
Since Talmudic times, sages, rabbis, and ordinary Jews have disagreed about astrological influences, about mazal. Some hold that astrology is all bunk, a pseudo-science, while others hold that, yes, it is true for non-Jews, but has no effect on Jews, and yet others believe that it definitely has effect on Jews and non-Jews alike, with the caveat that keeping the commandments of the (written) Torah is effective for protection against harm caused by negative astrological influences – the 613 commandments for Jews and the 7 commandments for non-Jews, the Children of Noah. For example, a negative astrological influence may cause financial loss, difficulty in friendships, or inner conflicts and confusion — albeit, some ‘negative astrological influences’ are built-in to one’s unique mazal, one’s destiny, and are necessary for each individual’s spiritual unfolding and growth.
However that may be, most astrologers would agree that ‘negative astrological influences’ may result from, for example, difficult planetary transits such as transiting Saturn conjunct your ascendant or Pluto entering your twelfth house. While an astrologer can discuss what may result from such difficult transits, wise astrological advice is contingent for its effectiveness on something more — its success depends on finding favor in God’s eye.
To merit that favor, keeping the Torah’s commandments is necessary. The problem is that, for many reasons, keeping all the commandments is not possible. The Jewish sages and prophets understood this and provided remedies.
Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki (1040 – 1105), universally known by the acronym, “Rashi”, is esteemed for his Torah commentaries. In the Talmud we find a discussion about how King David, Isaiah, Habakkuk and others came and established the observance of the Torah’s commandments from 613 in number to 11 and then to 2 and even 1. Rashi writes:
Makkot 24a: and he established them on 11 — At first they were completely righteous (tzadikim) and were able to receive the yoke of many commandments (mitzvot); later generations were not so completely righteous and when they came to observe all of them, no one had the merit to do so. And David came and established them, etc., so that they may gain merit through fulfilling these 11 commandments. And so generations are always descending and it (the number of commandments) is further reduced.
Makkot 24a: Isaiah then established the 613 commandments upon two, as it is stated: “So says the Lords: Observe justice and perform righteousness” (Isaiah 56:1).
Habakkuk came and established the 613 commandments upon one as it is stated: “…the righteous shall live by his faith(emunah)”. (Habakkuk 2:4).
We find in the Talmud many roads that lead to the same destination. Hillel and Shammai were sages whose rulings on how to observe the Torah commandments were virtually always in disagreement – yet each in their own way fulfilled the spirit of the Torah and so both rulings are considered valid. Whether we follow King David’s, Isaiah’s, or Habakkuk’s commandment to merit protection from negative mazal, doing so sincerely is the spiritual ‘red string’ that protects us.