The word ‘mazal’ is derived from the Hebrew verb « nozel » which means to flow. Mazal is the energy which flows to us from Above. Similarly to the processes that happen on Rosh ha-Shanah, this energy is renewed once a year. It’s said in Talmud that on a person’s birthday his mazal strengthens (“mazalo gover”). That’s why we often wish each other « Mazal Tov, » which really means, « may you have a strong flow of positive energy. »
The Rebbe reveals this through the following story:
– Every year on his birthday the Rebbe Rashab was accustomed to say a maamar (chassidic discourse) to his son – the Rebbe Rayatz. The last maamar said by the Rebbe Rashab during his lifetime was a maamar based on a verse from the book of Tehillim, chapter 60…
Rebbe Rashab passed away in his sixtieth year. However, even after his passing away, the Previous Rebbe related that his father appeared to him on his (the Rebbe Rashab’s) 84th birthday and told him that maamarim based on chapter 84 of Tehillim were being said then in the Heavenly spheres.
For a person’s ‘mazal’ is on the ascendancy on his birthday, effecting an incomparably great elevation. This is expressed in the saying of a new chapter of Tehillim (1), it being relevant to the whole year until the next year’s birthday…”.
(From the Rebbe’s talk on Chof MarCheshvan, 5742)
Notes. (1) There is a custom to read the whole book of Tehillim on one’s birthday and also start learning a new chapter of Tehillim corresponding to one’s age. Adding the number “one” to a person’s current age, we can calculate the number of the Psalm that corresponds to the new year in life. It’s also customary to say that special chapter every day for the coming year, tapping into the spiritual power of one’s birthday all year long.
The fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneersohn (known by the acronym « Rashab »), was born on the 20th of Cheshvan of the year 5621 (1860). Over the 38 years of his leadership, he wrote and delivered some 2,000 discourses of Chassidic teaching, including hemshechim – series of discourses, which contain his profound analytical treatment of chassidic matters. In 5657 (1897), he established the famed Tomchei Temimim yeshivah, which has now developed into a worldwide network of yeshivot.