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What is Divine Providence?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

  

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A. Divine Providence is Hashgachah Pratit (pronounced hahsh-GAH-chah PRAH-tit). The universe is a symphony; G-d is its conductor. Every atom, every breath of wind, every grain of sand is tracked and guided by the ultimate supercomputer—G-d. This is Divine Providence—the concept that G-d didn’t create the universe and then step back to let it run by itself, but that He remains actively involved, intentionally pulling levers, pushing buttons and flipping switches behind the scenes.

B. Why does He do that? A classic Chassidic story explains. A Rebbe once saw a leaf fall out of a tree and drift to the ground. He asked the leaf, "Why did you drop out?" The leaf answered, "I don’t know—my branch shook me off." The rebbe asked the branch why he shook, and was referred to the wind. The wind didn’t have an answer as to why he blew at the branch, except that he had been let loose by his angel master. The angel, in turn, told the rebbe he had received orders from G-d Himself to get things windy. So the rebbe posed the question to G-d, and was told: "Pick up the leaf." The rebbe lifted it off the earth… to find a little worm sheltering in the shade the leaf created underneath. Everything—even the falling of a leaf—happens for a reason, and it is up to us and our minds to find or acknowledge the stewardship of G-d behind it all.

Everything:even the falling of a leaf:happens for a reason, and it is up to us and our minds to find or acknowledge the stewardship of G-d behind it all.
C. Why doesn’t He get more involved, or less involved? Well, if G-d got more involved in daily life, He’d have to start performing miracles. And assuming a more dominant, aggressive role in directing the universe’s doings is in direct reverse proportion to our Free Choice: the less G-d is openly involved, the more freedom we have, and the more G-d is openly involved, the less freedom we have. In other words, if G-d were to shoot lightning bolts at bad guys, would we have the free choice to do bad things? Nope. But on the other hand, neither does G-d want to be totally uninvolved. So he doesn’t control people—he controls nature. If, for example, He knows that the place you’re headed for is just not for you, he won’t stop you with a lightning bolt—but He might send you a flat tire. Divine Providence means nothing "just happens"; things happen for a reason, and we need to turn each encounter into a learning experience.

How do I know what is Divine Providence and what isn’t?

1. Divine Providence or Personal Negligence?


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COMMENTS

Malach - Angels

Posted by: Bernie Malach, vancouver, BC., Canada on Jan 08, 2005

I like the story......this is serendipity in action....the Celestine Prophecy principles of coincidence = godincidence.....once a person becomes attuned to the hand of God in daily life, in terms of these "choices"....a person can see them more regularly....I see them come several times a week nowadays...and sometimes several in one day.....It is heartwarming to see this and understand that "God is definitely hanging around"....cheers, Bernie Malach

Purpose

Posted by: Rachel on Jan 11, 2005

The very fact that G-d woke you up this morning is so much faith, showing you that you have the power. I mean He could've very well left you asleep, yet He awoke you because He wanted you to do something, and knew you would. How can you let Him down???
Chassidic
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.