I’m reading the Meam Loez, first volume (Bereshit) page 92.

There it says there are 1022 stars that can be seen at night, same numerical value as the Brit Mila, so one who does not defile the covenant through sexual misdeed is above mazal. Sexual misdeed, I know that it’s referring to homosexuality, masturbation and so on.

My question is whether the Me'am Loez refers to one who has never committed such acts?

The root of this question stems from the midrash that states that Avraham will be by the gates of Gehinam advocating for those that protected their Brit Kodesh, not baalei teshuva as they did not protect the Brit from sexual immorality. We are also not talking about second class as teshuva is second class, (there are kids and adults that have not masturbated, Jewish and non-Jews)

(In this context, we’re not talking about wasted seed during sleep.)

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    Hi Jonathan and welcome to the site, and thanks for the interesting, important question. It would help a lot if you could find the exact quote from the midrash that says ba'alei teshuva are not recognisable to Avraham at the gates of gehinom. The one I am aware of refers to those who don't have a brit (or undid it). Also, the "second class" statement - what do you mean by that? It's not clear to me
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 8, 2022 at 14:31
  • Conncerning the idea that "teshuva is second class," Kli Yakar ztl on Leviticus 6:9:2 "This is because a completely righteous man who never sinned is called holy, but a baal teshuvah who sinned and returned is called holy of holies." Rashi ztl on Sanhedrien 99a "...the great merit of those who have returned to God in repentance is such that no other can stand in their position"
    – BID
    Dec 8, 2022 at 16:57
  • (continued) Rambam ztl in MT Repentance 7.4 "A Baal-Teshuvah should not consider himself distant from the level of the righteous because of the sins and transgressions that he committed. This is not true. He is beloved and desirable before the Creator as if he never sinned. [...] Our Sages declared: "In the place where Baalei Teshuvah stand, even the completely righteous are not able to stand." The level of Baalei Teshuvah transcends the level of those who never sinned at all, for they overcome their [evil] inclination more."
    – BID
    Dec 8, 2022 at 16:59
  • @Bid. Chaye Sara, rashi, 25:19-23 specifically says “Gd desires the prayers of the righteous (Yevamos 64a) I also believe Gemmara berachot says like rashi, , on Yitchak, HaShem answers Yitschak, he’s a Tzadic Ben Tzadic, not Rivka, she was a Tzadeket bat Rasha. Deduce the notion that HaShem loves more the Tzadik ben tzadic. Than a Baal teshuva. Only through teshuva b Ahava not of fear do they stand a chance. There’s a rule in learning Gemara, Ayn Lomdin min haklalot, We don’t learn from generalities, especially from the word Kol.
    – jonathan
    Dec 9, 2022 at 4:37
  • The prayer of the Tzadik ben Tzadik is not more accepted because he is "loved" more, it is because the prayer is in his merit and his fathers merit, whereas for a Tzadik ben Rasha it is only in their own merit, see the Ben Ish Chai on that Yevamoth 64a. Eitherway, a Tzadik ben Rasha is not the same thing as a baal teshuvah. There are many Balei Teshuva with righteous fathers (ie OTD), therefore after there repentance they are indeed a tzadik ben tzadik. (cont'd)
    – BID
    Dec 9, 2022 at 5:31

1 Answer 1


Because it is written in Ladino originally, it it difficult to determine what Rabbi Yaakov Culi zl meant. The Torah Anthology, Me'am Loez you are citing doesn't say the gematria of brit milah (circumcision) is 1022, it is ברית קדוש, brit kodosh, that has the gematria of 1022, which means "Holy Covenant."

Chazal in Shabbat 156b discuss the fact that mazal does not apply to Jews, and makes no mention of sexual misdeeds specifically disqualifying someone. Rabbi Yochanan derives the idea that Jews do not fall under mazal from Jeremiah 10:2:

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: From where is it derived that there is no constellation for the Jewish people? As it is stated:

כֹּ֣ה ׀ אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֗ה אֶל־דֶּ֤רֶךְ הַגּוֹיִם֙ אַל־תִּלְמָ֔דוּ וּמֵאֹת֥וֹת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם אַל־תֵּחָ֑תּוּ כִּי־יֵחַ֥תּוּ הַגּוֹיִ֖ם מֵהֵֽמָּה׃

Thus said the Lord: Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the nations are dismayed at them” (Jeremiah 10:2)

The nations will be dismayed by them, but not the Jewish people.

The Malbim zl comments on Jeremiah here:

"If you do not learn to walk in the way of the nations, then you will not be susceptible to the stars, for you are under the supervision of the Lord, not under the rule of the celestial arrangement. Only when you learn the way of the nations will you go out of direct supervision. Also, do not think that idols are useful for producing a desirable fortune from the stars."

From these sources, it would seem this concept applies to anyone who is considered a Jew, and not engaging in the practices of the nations. All this to say that what the Torah Anthology Me'am Loez refers to (sexual misdeeds specifically causing a person to be subject to mazal) cannot be ascertained from other sources, as far as I can see. Instead we will have to reflect upon how Rabbi Yaakov Culi zl treats the subject matter elsewhere.

Later in Sefer Bereshit parashah VaYeshev, Rabbi Culi zl gives an explanation of how to do teshuvah for illicit emission of semen (Gen 38.9), and the translator, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan zl, cites Rabbi Nachman of Breslov zl to demonstrate another tikkun, which he says is considered a "complete rectification for masturbation and nocturnal emissions." (Torah Anthology, Me'am Loez Series, 3a, p. 283, footnotes)

Now we know that:

  • Rabbi Culi zl himself gives a tikkun for this sin

  • Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan zl, who is one of the foremost experts on the Yalkut Me'am Loez, offers what he designates as a complete tikkun for this sin

  • A Jew's exemption from mazal is not mentioned as being effected more by sexual sins than any other sins, according to any other source (as far as I am aware).

It seems to me that if someone does proper teshuvah for this sin then they would be back in the position of someone who had never committed such a sin, as the Rambam ztl in MT Repentance 7.4 says "A Baal-Teshuvah should not consider himself distant from the level of the righteous because of the sins and transgressions that he committed. This is not true. He is beloved and desirable before the Creator as if he never sinned."

Therefore the Torah Anthology, Me'am Loez Series, is referring here to someone who is engaging in sexual misdeeds or has done so without ever doing teshuva for these sins.

  • Please refer to my previous posts regarding the tikun, for severe sins, (You only need to do it once).
    – jonathan
    Dec 12, 2022 at 0:09
  • Your last statement from the Rambam, to my opinion undermines everything. “(as if) he never sinned". Not the same as - (his love to him, the one whom has never sinned). It’s a harsh reality, I mean dry winds that blow in the dessert taking your moister leaving you with nothing other than dry, parched, broken skin, and no nutrients to keep going. That’s why rabbis say be strong against the world, out smart the yetzer, and win- (Not fail)
    – jonathan
    Dec 12, 2022 at 0:28
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    Thank you for your post, I will keep it in mind and I will look in to it.
    – jonathan
    Dec 12, 2022 at 0:30
  • Thanks Jonathan, just so you know the Rambam goes on to say a baal teshuvah is on a higher level than those who have never sinned. Chuzak u Baruch to you in your studying, that it will lead you toward truth always.
    – BID
    Dec 13, 2022 at 5:14
  • @jonathan Hi Jonathan, i was reading Tomer Devorah from Rav Moshe Cordevero zl and I thought this section might be worth a read for you, (Tomer Devorah 1.15)
    – BID
    Feb 16, 2023 at 20:23

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