By Rabbi Yechezkel Spanglet
The first of the Rambam’s Thirteen Principle of Faith states:
I believe with perfect faith that the Creator –may His name be blessed – creates and directs all created beings, and that only He did, does, and will do all that is done.
The Rambam is speaking about Hashgacha (Providence). The Al-mighty guides, directs and controls all the events of the universe. He is its sole supervisor and energizer.
Let’s illustrate this with a mashsal: A mother asks her son, Dovid, to clean and organize his room. He does not follow directions. (Sound unusual?). Ima has an idea. She exerts herself to clean and organize his room. He returns and thanks her for her diligence. She replies, “What do you mean? Everything automatically fell into place!” Astounded, Dovid responds, “That’s impossible, Ima! This room looked like a hurricane hit it!” Catching himself, he continues, “Um… I mean, sorry, I’ll try to listen next time.”
The universe would disintegrate without Hashem’s continuous input of energy as the posuk says “Hashem, everyday and continuously renews the works of creation.” Furthermore, the Al-mighty has a comprehensive framework of emissaries in the celestial realms and on earth that carry out His Will (Derech Hashem, Chelek 2). Of course, we don’t see Hashem engineering all of this. Rav Eliyahu Dessler illustrates this through the following mashal: Imagine a person, peeking through a keyhole, sees a hand writing something on a pad. He does not see the writer and assumes that the hand is writing by itself. (Michtav Me’eliyahu-Chelek 2 –pg 181). The message is clear- We know that the Abister controls all actions in the universe, even though we don’t see Him.
The Ramban adds another dimension to this subject. At the end of Parashas Bo, he comments that, through the makkos, Hashem “was pleased to bring changes in the natural order of the universe for the sake of a [particular] individual or people.” Hashem supervises, guides, and has the power to change the world. He does this on behalf of His Am Hanivchar. This describes hashgachah pratis. (Ramban –Parshas Bo 13:17)
The passuk in Parshas Shemos states that not only every member of B’nei Yisroel is Hashem’s child, but “His firstborn child”. Noted educator Rav Dov Brezak,shlita, points out, that this statement by the Al-mighty was expressed at the time that Bnei Yisrael had sunk to the lowest level of spiritual impurity. Hashem will not remove His love and hashgachah pratis from us even when we are ready to hit rock bottom.
The Ramban concludes his commentary stating that from the “open miracles” of Yetzias Mitzrayim one comes to acknowledge that Hashem’s “hidden miracles” [nature] constitute the foundation of the entire Torah. We can re-experience the miracles of Yetzias Mitzrayim through the miracles of nature that we see every day. If we open our eyes and prepare our hearts, we can constantly be inspired and uplifted by Hashem’s closeness and involvement in our daily affairs.
Hashem’s perfect Wisdom decreed that there be an interplay between Providence and free will. Hashem wants us to earn our eternal reward through our own efforts. Therefore it is sometimes necessary for Hashem to hide His Hashgachah, or even bring on suffering, in order to help rectify our sins, help arouse us to do teshuvah, or to fulfill our personal tachlis. Retribution to the wicked is also part of Hashem’s Providence (Derech Hashem, Hashkacha Pratis, Chelek 2).
Hashem’s hashgachah works for the benefit of the tzibbur and the individual according to his individual circumstances (ibid). People want to feel that they are in control. Control issues encompass many people’s lives and are a source of unhappiness and emotional disorders. Contrastingly, the more we realize that our Creator is in control, the happier our personal and domestic lives will be.
The Chofetz Chaim says it’s impossible to always see hashgachah immediately, for we live in a world of hester panim and free will. Rav Shimshon Pincus comments that patience is a necessary component of emunah and hashgachah. It sometimes takes hundreds of year for the hashgachah to unfold, as occurred between the promise of Geulas Mitzrayim to Avraham Avinu, and its actualization (Sichos Rebbe Shimshon, Pesach).
There are untold amount of stories that describe how Our Father in Heaven guided and saved our lives in the most incredible ways. The following is such a hashgacha pratis story:
The venerable Maggid of Yerushlayim Rav Yaakov Galinsky, zt”l, related a personal experience. Following the Holocaust, Rav Galinsky arrived in Eretz Yisrael as a young man and went to visit the Chazon Ish. After the traumas and tragedies he had endured, Rav Galinsky had fallen into despair. The Chazon Ish told him the following story:
In one of the of the infamous death camps, the Bluzhever Rebbe and twenty-five chassidim miraculously came upon some white flour before Pesach. With great joy and yet under the threat of death, they built an oven and baked six matzos. Suddenly, an SS officer appeared, enraged, and trampled the matzos into crumbs on the filthy ground. Then he beat the Rebbe mercilessly with his baton, until the Rebbe fainted. When the despicable officer left, the chassidim lifted their Rebbe from the bloodstained floor.
That night, the 15th of Nissan, the Rebbe assembled as many people as possible. The group grasped as he showed them a piece of matzah that he saved before he was beaten. He asked, “Which one of you would like to make a brachah on this matzah?”
The soft voice of a woman was heard in the crowd. “I would like to make the brachah, on behalf of my four-year-old son who stands beside me. You see, most of us are older. We may not have the opportunity to relate this act of mesiras nefesh to our children and grandchildren. Therefore, I would like to make the brachah on behalf of the subsequent generations that will be the linked to the eternity of Klal Yisroel.”
After the War, this woman came to visit that illustrious Rebbe. She asked the Rebbe if he knew a Yisroel Spira, who had been suggested to her as a shidduch. The Bluzhever Rebbe replied, “I’m familiar with this man; he’s not bad.” On the way to the meeting, she prayed to her Father in Heaven to represent her, in place of her own father who had perished in the Holocaust. On arriving, the woman was astonished to see the Bluzhever Rebbe himself. He confirmed that his name was Yisroel Spira. They married, and the woman’s son became the next Rebbe. And we know what became of Rav Yaakov Galinsky.
May we be more sensitized to the Haskafa Pratis that our Creator always send our way.