Monday, September 24, 2007

Jewish Mystics See "Star" From The East -- Believe It Portends Arrival Of Mashiach

I thought I could not be stunned any more, but they keep surprising me.

Several years ago, after davening Maariv in Etz Chaim, we went out to say kiddush levana. It was a cloudy night, and we could not see the moon. Finally, a portion of it seemed to peek out from behind a cloud, and we started to say kiddush levana. A convertess who happened to be there chastised us that we were saying kiddush levana while facing Venus, rather than the moon. And she was, of course, right.

Over at DreamingOfMosiach, in a post titled "Moshiach's Star?!!," Nava posts about "A gigantic star [...] seen tonight, 11/12 Tishrei 5768, at 3:30 am in East of Haifa, Eretz Israel." Here is one such picture -- she has another there, with a closer zoom, so check it out.

This gigantic "star" is supposed to portend the arrival of Mashiach.

In all likelihood, that is no star, but rather is Venus. According to "This Week's Sky At A Glance" from Sky and Telescope magazine, Venus is supposed to appear in the eastern sky before and during dawn. This is when it is seen as the "morning star." According to the Zemanim page at, Alot haShachar in Haifa is at 4:17 AM, and so 3:30 AM is slightly before dawn. I am no astronomer -- hey, I just admitted I started saying kiddush levana towards Venus! -- but without any other information, it seems quite likely that what is pictured here in the Eastern sky of Haifa is Venus, which is a bright celestial object that looks like a really bright star that is supposed to appear in the eastern sky at specifically this time.

Of course, they give it other significance, because they have kabbalists who say, and believe that autistics are saying, that Mashiach's arrival is imminent.

There is indeed a basis for connecting a star to mashiach. There is Bilaam's prophecy in Bemidbar 24:17:
יז אֶרְאֶנּוּ וְלֹא עַתָּה, אֲשׁוּרֶנּוּ וְלֹא קָרוֹב; דָּרַךְ כּוֹכָב מִיַּעֲקֹב, וְקָם שֵׁבֶט מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל, וּמָחַץ פַּאֲתֵי מוֹאָב, וְקַרְקַר כָּל-בְּנֵי-שֵׁת. 17 I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh; there shall step forth a star out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite through the corners of Moab, and break down all the sons of Seth.
though this can be taken most literally, as an actual star, or else metaphorically as a rise to power or ascendancy of fate.

The Zohar talks of a connection between a star and mashiach. In Zohar I, Vayera 119a {corrected from "Vaera", thanks to a comment by Gilui}:
In the year sixty-six the Messiah will appear in the land of Galilee. A star in the east will swallow seven stars in the north, and a flame of black fire will hang in the heaven for sixty days, and there shall be wars towards the north in which two kings shall perish. Then all the nations shall combine together against the daughter of Yaakov in order to drive her from the world. It is of that time that it is written: "And it is a time of trouble unto Yaakov, but out of it he shall be saved" (Jeremiah 30:7).
Perhaps this influenced what follows. Nava writes her basis for believing that this expected sighting of Venus portends Mashiach:
Batya Schneerson; mystic and widow of Tuvia Schneerson, a'h, cousin of the late Lubavitch Rebbe zs'l, has powers to see the future. She says that she was born with this gift. She is a religious Orthodox woman and has complete Emunah. When nessecary, brings proof from the TaNaCH.

In 2004, she said "A star will appear, Argaman - Initials of Ariel, Refael, Gavriel, Michael, Nuriel (angels). The star will announce Moshiach's arrival but only very few will know that it appeared. It will be able to be seen from the East. It is a very big, shiny and colorful star, bigger than a regular star. It will appear for a minute or 2 and afterwards, a gigantic golden halo will appear around it and then they will both disappear. This can be seen on a cloudless nite."

Wow. Fine, I don't believe that this woman has powers to see the future, and would regard her claim to this as fakery. Regardless, while the Zohar talks of a star in the east swallowing seven stars in the north, this different claim that a star in the east will announce mashiach's arrival seems theologically difficult. Let us ignore possible issues with belief in astrology. This claim sounds very familiar, but I can't place it...

Oh, yes. The Star of Bethlehem, from the Gospel of Matthew!
"In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage. When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born."
The King James version of this has "star in the East" instead of "star at its rising." Such predictions have just the slightest hint of Christian influence.

Since Venus was seen in the East, they assume this is the same star this mystic spoke of. But did this star appear for only a minute or two and then disappear? Did a giant gold halo appear around it before its disappearance? Both these were predicted by this mystic. No mention of these facts are made in the blogpost, and I would have expected mention of it if it had. It is quite possible that they are trying to force what they saw to accord with what they wanted to see, despite the disparity.

Also, the mystic said that the star is called Argaman. This is not the same as the name of Venus, which is Nogah, Ayelet haShachar, or Kochav haErev.


Zach Kessin said...

Well I am an astronomer, at least an armature one, but I know the night sky. Venus is high in the east in the morning sky and very bright. Jupiter is bright in the south right after dark.

Saturn is also in the morning sky, but much less bright.

Both Venus and Jupiter would be brighter than any star. Both will also be quite easy to distinguish as planets don't twinkle like stars .

Zach Kessin said...

Star of Brooklyn?

joshwaxman said...



though I'm not sure that these particular mystically inclined folks think that the Mashiach who is coming is going to be specifically the Lubavitcher Rebbe...

Anonymous said...

Hi Jonathan,
Isn't venus a star? Yes, it is a star, aka Nogah, Ayelet haShachar, or Kochav haErevit (evening STAR)

one of the many stars that shine...

joshwaxman said...

who is Jonathan?

Venus is a planet. But indeed, was considered a star. Therefore, what? It is an *expected* and *regular* celestial phenomenon, and certainly not what this mystic predicted. This is supposed to herald the messiah?

Zach Kessin said...

Well Venus is a planet, is a bit smaller than Earth, but with a runaway greenhouse effect that causes it to be about 800F or so. The Russians landed a few probes and both the US and USSR have sent a number of space ships past it.

All that being said its orbit is quite regular and can be predicted with pretty good accuracy for as far into the future as you could want. I can tell you exactly where Venus will be on August 12 2734 CE (It will in fact be in Virgo near Spica, but pretty close to the sun so hard to see).

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

if the Wise Men come from the East in the Christian narrative, wouldn't that indicate that they were following the star Westwards?

J. P. van de Giessen said...

Hi Steg,

The text in Matthew about the Star of Bethlehem isn't so clear. Some hypotheses argues the wise men saw the star (the first time) in the east. Most hypotheses favor a conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.

Further the star on the photo is Venus, you can recognize it on the second photo on dreamingofmoshiach, where you can see it is not a circle (ie. it is an inner planet like Venus or Mercury)

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Zohar is referring to year 66 from 1948 which would be 6 yrs from now. significance being end of this shmitta cycle. significance being acc to the gra that there will be fighting for the shmitta cycle leading to moshiach coming at the end which just happens to be shnat tshuah taf shin eyin heh

Anonymous said...

Could the Zohar have been referring to 66 years from November 28, 1941, which brings us to November 28, 2007 - the day of the Annapolis derangement? -- ["Day after Annapolis: Palestinian Authority TV shows 'Palestine' map erasing Israel by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook - November 28, 2007"] -- It's exactly (by the civil calendar) 66 years from the time when they first tried to drive Jews from the world. Annapolis was just another meeting between a "Palestinian" monster and a western leader to decide the fate of the Jews.

478. In the year 66, the King Mashiach will appear in the land of Galilee, . . . . (possibly referring to Rav Kaduri's statement about having met Moshiach there, and at about this time, though unfortunately it doesn't seem to match exactly)
. . . .
479. And all the nations will be united against the Daughter of Ya'akov, in order to drive her out of this world. [Zohar Kodesh] (which corresponds to both the original meeting of Hitler and the Mufti y"sh, and of Rice and Abbas y"sh)

Of course, the Annapolis meeting was in 2568, and there was a lot of talk that Moshiach might come in then, so there actually is a connection, just not a mathematically precise one that I can see.

In short, I think it's just the sound of a footstep, a footstep of Moshiach getting very very close.

Oh, and another thing. The night of November 28, 2007, was Yud Tes Kislev, the "New Year of Chassidus," which virtually screams to me that this is a significant event in the approach of Moshiach.


Anonymous said...


Use "Sky View Cafe" to run back to the time and location that "star" was seen on and from, and you will find out what it was.



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