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Fundamentals of the Jewish Faith

Chapter Six: Divine Providence (Part 2)

It only makes sense that a person would pay rapt attention to someone he’d given a lot of responsibility to, and take little notice of somebody he’d entrusted with very little.

Indeed, when all is said and done, we care more for people we heap responsibility upon than for others we’ve left on the side-lines. And it’s likewise true that we especially care for people who assume a lot of responsibility on their own and that we have little regard for the less assertive.

Well, the same is true on a Divine level, if one could say as much. For while “G-d is constantly interacting with (all) His creations” as we’d said, still and all the type and extent of contact varies. As He interacts in a distinctive way with us humans because we’re “unique, in that (we’re) rewarded and punished for (our) deeds”. That’s to say, He relates to and draws closer to us because He’d granted us so much responsibility, and because we play such a central role in the makeup of all things.

Indeed, G-d only interacts marginally with other entities, like inanimate objects, animals, and angels; and so He only “keeps a particular species of thing (functioning) within the boundaries and limitations He set for it”, as Ramchal terms it, and no more.

To use an example, while G-d doesn’t pay close attention to each and every chemical element, He does assure that element’s existence and sustenance, even though particular instances of it may disappear or become inert. And so while calcium, for example, is maintained as long as it’s needed, not every bit of calcium is. And that’s because no one bit of it bears a lot of responsibility, so each is dispensable and only acts as a functionary.

It follows then that G-d draws close to each one of us -- by suffusing us with His Presence and surrounding us with His light -- by degrees. For, as we said, our relationship with Him is reciprocal. So the more I do to draw close to Him, the warmer His presence and the brighter His light, while the more I do to avoid Him, the cooler His presence and the dimmer His light.

And so while humankind as a whole is watched over and provided for each and every moment since it matters so in the course of things, you and I specifically are reacted to differently moment by moment. It also follows that G-d most especially draws close to the righteous since they assume a lot of responsibility, and He draws them especially close to Him.


Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has translated and commented upon "The Gates of Repentance", "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason Aronson Publishers). His works are available in bookstores and in various locations on the Web.


 

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