Dear Rabbi Kornfeld:
I wonder whether an alternate interpretation of the Rambam 's attitude is
>>The RAMBAM (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 11:8) rules that it is an Isur d'Oraisa to look into one's astrological horoscope, as the Gemara here implies. What, then, does the Rambam do with the Gemara in Shabbos?
The Gemara there lists each Mazal and its effects on one who was born in it... It is just telling us the facts about what that person's tendency will be. Apparently, that does not fall into the prohibition against divining.
However, the Rambam writes later (11:16) that anyone who believes that there is any truth in these predictions is foolish and childish. How, then, could Rebbi Akiva and the Amora'im be concerned for the predictions of astrologers?
The Rambam, in his Introduction to Perush ha'Mishnayos, intimates that the
predictions of astrologers contain truth, but they are not exact in their
predictions. He might mean that a person's fate, as seen by astrological
prediction, is liable to change based on the performance of good deeds (as
the Gemara in Shabbos concludes).<<
My understanding of the Rambam would be: since the Mazal contains truth about the weaknesses and tendencies of people, it is incumbent on all people who are informed of their weaknesses and tendencies to take control of their personality weaknesses, as indeed the Rambam instruct us how to do in Hilchot Deot! But those who take the information as definitive and unchangeable are foolish and childish.
According to the Rambam it would seem that the good deeds which the Gemara in Shabbat is hinting at are: adhering to the Rambam's instructions in Hilchot Deot! And not so much a question of having faith as of taking control of one's personality weaknesses and one's destiny.
Thank you for the excellent service - from "Background" through the Reviews, Summaries and Insights - and Discussions - the work you are doing is unequalled! I wish you Lots of Hatslaha, both in your work and that of your team and in your personal affairs.
Yeshayahu Hakohen Hollander
Your point is very good and is certainly correct. (However, it does not suffice to explain the incident of Rebbi Akiva's daughter, and the other incidents recorded in Shabbos 156b, where they saw in the stars that a snake would bite her on the day of her Chupah, and so on.)