Star light! Star bright! Make me a Talmud scholar tonight!

James Davila at Paleojudaica notes that Madonna supposedly cited the Talmud in her recent acceptance speech at her induction into the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame. The pop star stated:

There’s a saying in the Talmud that for every blade of glass there’s an angel that watches over it and whispers grow, grow. And I could still hear those angels whispering. And even the naysayers, the ones that said I was talentless, that I was chubby, that I couldn’t sing, that I was a one hit wonder, they helped me too. (Quoted from “The Bangkok Jungle“)

Well, it turns out that the “Material Girl” was a bit mistaken. She did not quote from the Talmud, but from the Zohar:

The Holy One brings out all the hosts, camps, and stars, each one is called by its own name, and “not one faileth” (Isa 40:26). Over all these stars and constellations of the firmament there have been set chiefs, leaders, and ministers, whose duty is to serve the world each one according to his appointed station. And not the tiniest grass-blade on earth but has its own appointed star in heaven. Each star, too, has over it a being appointed who ministers before the Holy One as its representative, each according to his order. All the stars in the firmaments keep watch over this world: they are appointed to minister to every individual object in this world, to each object a star. Herbs and trees, gras and wild plants, cannot flourish and grow except from the influence of the stars who stand above them and gaze upon them face to face, each according to his fashon. (Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 171b)

While she’s certainly no Talmud scholar, her lyrics have a new (and potentially more profound) meaning:

You must be my lucky star
‘Cause you make the darkness seem so far
And when I’m lost you’ll be my guide
I just turn around and you’re by my side

Starlight, star bright first star I see tonight
Starlight, (star bright) make everything all right
Starlight, star bright first star I see tonight
Starlight, (star bright) yeah

Come on shine your heavenly body tonight
‘Cause I know you’re gonna make everything all right

Update: Manuscript Boy (from Hagahot) e-mailed Jim Davila of Paleojudaica with the following quote from Genesis Rabbah 10.6:

א”ר סימון אין לך כל עשב ועשב ברקיע שאין לו מזל ברקיע שמכה אותו ואומר לו גדל

Neusner’s translation:

Said R. Simon, ‘There is not a single herb which is not subject to the influence of a planet in heaven, which smites it and says to it, “Grow!”‘

As Manuscript Boy notes, it’s “Not whispers but beatings. Other than that, it’s pretty close.”

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