Tuesday, May 27, 2008



by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

Anonymous commented: just wanted to let you know that the saying "good luck" refers to a world were things happen randomly and by chance - I know you don't believe this so I would suggest using a better saying such as "good mazal".

We have a custom you are surely aware of, shouting out Mazel Tov at good occasions (wedding, bar mitzvah, etc.) Mazel, in common translation, means Luck. And Tov means good. Mazel Tov = Good Luck, literally. Using more Jewish religious circles terminology doesn't change the fact that we're wishing someone 'good luck'.

What is this mazel thing, and why do we want people to have good ones? In super brief (perhaps in more detail in a future post), when we appear to be operating within the realm of the 'natural pattern of the world', even within the natural pattern there's a supra-rational pattern. BUT it's not the G-dly pattern of being connected to G-d and clearly operating (at all times) according to the Hand of Hashem (this is a level usually only tzaddikim reach). Rather, it's Mazel, "luck".

We all know someone who just seems completely lucky. Things work out for him/her, good things seem to drop into his/her lap, every business step is a success, etc. We see the same in the opposite direction, though skilled everything they seem to do fails, troubling things seem to keep occurring out of the blue, etc.

The Gemora itself recognizes this, and discusses certain people born with a certain mazel. Of course, books of Kabbalah discuss this at various depths, including how to influence one's mazel.

So, though we wish and strive to always maintain a sufficient connection to Hashem to operate only within the clear direct influence of the Hand of Hashem, most of us will fail to reach that level much of the time. During those other times, we wish for mazel tov, good luck, that we be set with the best possible seemingly-random pattern of the world, that during those times when we're less closely connected to Hashem than we should be and would prefer to be, that the natural pattern and apparent randomness of the world still work out for the obvious and understandable good within this world. In other words, we want good luck, and wish our friends and family to have it as well.

So, mazel tov, good luck!

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MAOZ said...

Somewhere I read/heard that the word "mazal" is related to the word "nozel" meaning "flow" or "influx". So in wishing someone "mazal tov" you are in essence saying "May you have a good influx of blessings!"

Anonymous said...

Just to point out that Maoz is 100% correct - mazal stems from the root nozel meaning to flow. Mazal is one's flowing of blessing from above. It does NOT mean luck. I suggest you change your wording to "Good flow"

yitz.. said...

to add a little bit more to Anonymous and Maoz ..

Mazal also means constellation, it's not luck, it's more along the lines of 'fortune' or 'fate' as determined by the natural order of the world through the complex workings of the zodiac etc..

the understanding is that while you are connected to the natural 'flow' or 'workings' of the world, your 'flow' of blessing is directed by the mazaloth, the constellations and the whole system that entails.

it should be noted though, that the Talmud does use the word mazal also to mean one's soul (or something similar to it) 'even though he doesn't see, his mazal (soul) sees.' .. which implies the reality in Judaism that if you don't subject yourself to the order of nature, it has no bearing on you...

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