Understanding One’s Personality through Zodiac Signs

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QUESTION

New York

I was informed by someone that there are ways to understand one’s personality based on the zodiac signs. This involves looking at not only the astrological sign, but also the time and location of birth, as well as the position of the moon, stars, and planets. I don’t actually believe in this, but I am curious to explore it with my student who does very much believe in this.

I’m concerned about any kind of divination issurim. From my understanding, you could stop before you get to predicting the future with this Zodiac stuff. This is just about understanding one’s personality and in that way is very similar to Myers-Briggs or the Enneagram or other personality tests that exist. If that is the case, and exploring the Zodiac is just understanding one’s personality more, I would think it would be permissible provided that does not leech into questions about predicting the future. What is your opinion?

ANSWER

Your analysis is correct. The Gemara and Rishonim, as I am sure you know, give credence to astrology both in terms of propitious times (e.g., Adar—see Taanit 29b) suggesting that the star one is born under can influence their personality (i.e., Mars being associated with violent tendencies —see Shabbat 156a).

Rambam, not surprisingly, rejects any value in astrology and rules that one who uses it gets malkot—lashes (Mishnah Torah, Hilkhot Avodah Zarah 11:8-9). Importantly for our purposes, he limits this to using it to determine good and bad times for doing something (since it is based on the prohibition of מעונן = עונה – Devarim 18:10). Rambam does not mention any problem with using astrology as a means of gaining insight into one’s character traits, or with studying it without acting upon it

So – yes, you are correct that using Zodiac signs/astrology in this way would not be prohibited.

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