- Divine Providence
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- Reader: Can you please help me understand the area of G-d's
daily involvement in our lives. A friend seems so certain that G-d is
involved in every aspect of our lives. He uses The Guide on pages
270-280 in the Dover edition.I am of the opinion that our lives work
based on the laws of nature and cause and effect.We must be on a much
higher level of Torah to relate with G-d on a daily basis.
- Mesora: Maimonides writes,
"There are in Scripture many more passages expressing the
principle that men enjoy Divine protection in proportion to their
perfection and their piety." (Maimonides, "Guide for the
Perplexed", Dover ed. pp 290)
- Maimonides shows through various passages in the Torah that
depending upon one's perfection, he will enjoy God's providence to a
proportional degree. (ibid, pp 289)
- I feel your friend misquoted Maimonides, perhaps misunderstanding
Maimonides' Fifth Theory (pp 285) as his own, which Maimonides clearly
states is not.
- Reader: When it comes to the area of chance how does G-d
relate? If I won the million dollar lottery, would you say this is
from G-d or would you say that it is possible it is from G-d and we
must thank him?
- Mesora: One has no absolute
knowledge whether a specific action is due to God's will or stems from
natural occurrence. I agree with your later statement, that it is
possible. But unless one is a prophet, he cannot know whether God
actually did something or not. There is no way for man to know this.
It maybe, but then again it may not be. One can certainly say to God
that "if it is from You, I thank you."
- Reader: We pray every day and have areas in our prayers for
specific personal requests. How does this fit in?
- Mesora: If a person is living
properly, and is committed to observing the Torah and all entailed
therein, and prays for that which is fit for this philosophy, this is
the type of request most likely to be responded to by God.
- God is certainly aware of all our actions, we say this on Yom
Kippur, "nothing is hidden from Your eyes." But there is no
guarantee that God will respond positively to our prayers. Even the
matriarchs who desired children - that which we would view as a noble
desire - did not receive children immediately. The Rabbis explain the
reason why God did not grant their requests was that "God desires
the prayers of the righteous". This means that God desires the
perfection which stems from prayers. Prayers which go unanswered cause
one to reflect on one's state, thereby, one may analyze their nature
for an imperfection, addressing it, and raising themselves to a higher
level. This is God's wish for man.
- We may not realize, what we wish for may be counter productive for
our own good. We feel justified in requesting what we want, although
it may remove us from perfection. In such a case, the Rabbis already
taught that God will rightfully abstain from granting such requests,
as this will be a good for us.
- Conversely, if what we request from God will in reality assist in
our perfection, God will most certainly grant it. That is the purpose
for our existence, and it is perfectly in line with God's Will.
- Asking God to be involved in our lives is not only a correct notion,
it is halachikly bound upon us, as we must pray a few times daily. We
should certainly insert our personal requests in our prayers as well.
We see countless examples of the prophets and perfected individuals in
the Torah who prayed when they were in need. They were convinced that
God could save them even by a miracle, as we see from Mishael,
Chananya and Azarya who said to Nevuchadnetzaar, "God can save
us...." (from the furnace).
- When hunted by his brother, Jacob demonstrated, by preparing a
bribe, arming for war and also praying to God for salvation, that our
lives should be guided by sound reasoning teamed with a mutual
reliance on God. Jacob was not certain of God's intervention, nor was
he certain of his own might and ingenuity. Therefore he relied on
- Many pledges are made to us by God, as He will "protect the
bones of the righteous" (Psalms 34).
- Those pledges should be as real to us as our lives.
- He created both.