Tough Luck and/or the Ability to Change Fate
The Talmud talks about the predictable behavior of someone born on a particular day of the week or at a certain hour of the day. One born on a Wednesday will be wise and radiant. Someone born in the sixth hour of the day under the influence of Mars will be prone to spilling blood.
Pharaoh threw the boys into the river because his astrologers told him the Jews’ redeemer would die from the water. This prophecy referred to when Moses, to produce water, hit the rock instead of speaking to it as God commanded; as a result, he passed away in the wilderness. They were right. Moses’s fate was predetermined.
The Talmud says, “A first wife is predetermined.” Rashi says, regarding a different issue, “Since his flow from above has turned sour, difficulty and hardship are likely to come upon him.” Tough luck?
Rabbi Elazar ben Pedas was extremely poor. On one occasion, after letting out blood (an ancient health remedy), he had nothing to eat to regain strength. He took a clove of garlic, became faint, and fell asleep.
The rabbis who visited him saw that while he was sleeping, he was crying and laughing and that a ray of light was radiating from his forehead. They asked him why he had been crying and laughing when he awoke. He answered, “God was sitting with me, and I asked Him, ‘How much longer will I suffer in poverty?’ God said, ‘Elazar, my son.” Would you like me to return the world to its beginning and recreate it so that perhaps you would be born at a time more favorable for livelihood?’
Despite all this effort of creating the world anew, I replied to God that it seemed that it would only be “possible” for my life to be better. I asked God, ‘Which is longer, the life I have already lived or what I still have to live?’ God answered, ‘The life you have already lived.'”
Rabbi Elazar declined the offer, deciding that since he had already lived most of his years, and starting all over again gave him only the possibility of a better lot, it was not worth it.
On the other hand, it is written that a person can change his preordained fate through prayer and good deeds. It is written that if a person changes his name or his place of residence, this can help change his lot. When God told Abraham he would be the father of a great nation, Abraham said, “I can see in my star that I am not predestined to have children.” God responded to Abraham (and God did not say what Abraham saw was wrong), “I will move your star over from the west to the east, and then you will be able to have children.”
The granddaddy interpretation of quantum physics is that a person’s (or measuring device) affects one’s reality. We see this in Jewish law in many places. One example is that the new lunar month, no matter when the actual moon theoretically appears anew, can only begin when witnesses testify to seeing the new moon and the tribunal decides there is a new moon.
So, does a person influence his condition, or is it all predetermined?
Hillel the Elder was coming along a road, and as he approached his hometown, he heard screaming in the city. With conviction and certainty, he declared, “I am confident that this [screaming] is not [coming from] within my home.”
The Talmud attributed a verse from Psalms to Hillel’s confidence: “Of evil tidings, he will have no fear; his heart is firm, confident in God” (Psalms 112:7).
The Malbim writes that this sincere (abstract) faith in God (expressed and manifesting itself in some form of physical activity) changes a person’s fate and fortune for good and increases blessings.
Yes, God has put a pattern and natural order in place. However, it is also true that when a person strengthens and connects with the One in charge through the observance of God’s commandments, all kinds of changes become possible.
Chapter 136 www.aspiritualsoulbook.com