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From Siach Shaul

Overcoming Mazal with Merit

Sanctity requires separation, as sanctity does not come to a person naturally. This is the essence of Judaism, whose goal is to, on the one hand, reach great heights, but on the other, does not deny the true situation.

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Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

Nissan 26 5782
The mandate of "You shall be holy" is explained by Chazal as: "Be like those who separate themselves [from temptations]" (Sifra, Kedoshim 1). Sanctity requires separation, as sanctity does not come to a person naturally. This is the essence of Judaism, whose goal is to, on the one hand, reach great heights, but on the other, does not deny the true situation. Rather, we strive to "uproot the weeds" before we come to plant worthwhile plants.

The Jewish People declared at Sinai "We will do and hear," and they also had the mountain held over their head. There is no contradiction between the two. There are two forces in man – the good part of his nature and the destructive part of his nature. Along with the positive action ("We will do and hear"), they had to accept upon themselves the concept of "Remove oneself from evil" (the weeding of the garden). They must not deny or cover up the problems but accept the holding of the mountain over their heads. Only then will the positive be something that one can really be happy with.

Therefore, in every generation it is necessary to really accept the Torah anew. Actually, in every year, we must accept it anew, and every day it should appear to us as new.

It is the way of man to work on refining his nature. The corrections can bring on the repair of all of the natural world, as all of existence depends on mankind. It goes up and goes down along with him. "If not for My covenant day and night, the rules of the Heavens and the earth I would not have placed" (Yirmiyahu 33:25). If they would not have accepted the Torah, the morally destructive elements would grow stronger until, "… this will be your place of burial"

The mishna (Kiddushin 4:14) says that neither poverty nor wealth are a product of one’s profession, but everything depends on his merit. Tosafot (Kiddushin 82a) asks from the statement of Chazal that livelihood, life, and children depend on mazal (ostensibly, rather than merit). On the other hand, Bnei Yisrael are not governed by mazal (Shabbat 156a).

The explanation is that mazal is not a combination of natural factors. There is a possibility of things that are beyond nature, and this depends on a realization that wealth is not a function of one’s profession. While livelihood, life, and children depend on mazal, merit impacts the mazal. When nature is repaired, so too, mazal, which is a foundation of blind nature in the world, also changes.
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