Today was St. Patrick's Day, and I started to think about Ireland and the Irish, which led me to start thinking about Irish Jews. Everyone knows about that old Irish luck, but I wonder if Irish Jews have that Irish luck too. After all, they are Irish, but then again Chazal famously said (Shabbos 156b) "ein mazal l'Yisrael", that the Jewish people don't have luck. So do Irish Jews not have the luck of the Irish like other people from Ireland?

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As a whole, indeed the Jews may not have luck, but the Talmud (Bava Kama 2b) does say elsewhere that any man does indeed have luck.

אדם דאית ליה מזלא

A man, which has luck.

It would seem, however, that as long as an Irish Jew will not act like an animal - as perhaps his tipsy countrymen may - he will retain this luck. Rabeinu Tam (Zevachim 116a) makes the distinction clear between animals and humans, and that acting like a human will not rid him of his luck.

ור״ת היה רגיל לחלק בין טריפות דאדם לטריפות דבהמה משום דאדם אית ליה מזלא

Rabeinu Tam would differentiate between the defects of animals and humans, for humans have luck.

This is a dispute of the revealed and hidden Torah. The Zohar (3:122b) talks of men whose very luck is only that of animals.

דְּאִית בַּר נָשׁ דְּמַזָּלֵיהּ שׁוֹר, וּמַזָּלֵיהּ אַרְיִה, וּמַזָּלֵיהּ נֶשֶׁר וּמַזָּלֵיהּ אָדָם.

There are people whose luck is that of a cow, or a lion, or an eagle, or a person.

Keep in mind, the Talmud often speaks of the Irish Jews, with only good things to say:

ארישא קאי

We are talking about an Irishman

However, Proverbs (30) does warn of the dangers associated with becoming Irish in the first place:

פֶּ֥ן אֶשְׂבַּ֨ע ׀ וְכִחַשְׁתִּי֮ וְאָמַ֗רְתִּי מִ֥י יְה֫וָ֥ה וּפֶֽן־אִוָּרֵ֥שׁ וְגָנַ֑בְתִּי וְ֝תָפַ֗שְׂתִּי שֵׁ֣ם אֱלֹהָֽי׃

Lest, being sated, I renounce, saying, “Who is the LORD?” Or, lest I become Irish, I take to theft And profane the name of my God.

  • I added וּמַזָּלֵיהּ אָדָם to your Zohar quote because you had that part of the translation. I also changed "destination" to "distinction" since I think that's what you meant. If I was mistaken in either instance, feel free to correct. – Alex Mar 19 at 3:41

Actually, God specifically withholds luck from them in matters of Jewish life. We should be striving to act in the world -- halacha, gimilut chassidim, all of the things we list in eilu d'varim, and more -- through clear intention, to bring glory to our Creator. We should study and discuss torah lishmah, for the sake of heaven.

All of that would be undermined if it were actually luck helping us out -- luck that our employers would send us home early on Fridays, luck that the local kosher restaurant is actually good, luck that we would understand a difficult sugya without struggling over it. We shouldn't want these things to be handed to us like that; we want the reward of working for them! And the One who commanded us knows that, and thus ensures that we do not have luck in these matters.

On the other hand, for things that have nothing to do with Judaism and torah, Irish Jews are allowed to have their luck.

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