Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Fundamentals of the Jewish Faith

Chapter Six: Divine Providence (Part 5)

By Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

There are a couple of more things to explain when it comes to Divine Providence. First of all, how can we be said to be free to interact with G- d any way we decide to when it’s clear that He knows beforehand just what we’re going to do!

After all, as Ramchal asserts, “G-d truly knows everything; nothing is hidden from Him” -- regardless of whether it’s in the past, present, or the future. And so it follows that He knows what I’m about to do at any one time. It also follows that whatever I’m about to do has, for all intents and purposes, already been done (as far as G-d is concerned) -- so how can I not do it?

And if I can’t help but do it, how can I be said to be free to do what I want to do? Hasn’t it all been set in stone beforehand, so to speak? Claiming that I’m free to do whatever I want to do, moment by moment, seems to suggest that I could change the “script” even after it had been read!

But Ramchal assures us that despite His knowing everything beforehand, “G- d’s management and judgment of the world aren’t founded on His foreknowledge”. That’s to say that G-d overlooks what He knows will happen, and allows us the freedom to do as we see fit. (Much the way a wise parent who’s sure that his or her child will be terribly drowsy in the morning nonetheless allows the child to choose to stay up late to study, so the child will learn how to better allocate time.)

Though Ramchal doesn’t speak about it here, he explains at many points that G-d not only suspends His foreknowledge when it comes to the workings of the universe, He does the same with a lot of His attributes here. For were He to act here at full-throttle, we’re taught, the world would dissolve in His presence because it couldn’t endure such outright exposure to Him. This is the import of G-d’s statement that, "You cannot see My face, for no one may see Me”, i.e., no one can experience G-d fully, “and yet live" (Exodus 33:20).

In any event, the point here is that instead of relying on His foreknowledge, G-d allows us our free will. He has also allowed for a system of justice to hold sway in the world, so that we answer for our own deeds.

The very last point here, then, is the makeup of this system of justice: what is it like? Is it some sort of arcane, utterly bizarre system that we couldn’t ever hope to fathom and participate in? In fact, we’re taught that the Divine justice system actually “resembles that of earthly forms of governance” -- except that it’s the angels whom G-d calls upon to play an active role in the world (spoken of before) who are active in it.

For this system relies upon “witnesses offering testimony, prosecutors seeking sentencing, advocates pleading their client’s case” just as our own -- except, all of them are angels. And the system is utterly “fair and accurate”, as Ramchal is sure to underscore.


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.


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

Why The Land of Israel?
- 5768

Redefining Pleasure
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5775

Wake-Up Call
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Avram Lifted Up His Hand...So That You Not Say
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

Entering the Land of Canaan
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

To the Land That I Will Show You
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

To The Place G-d Will Show Us
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

Universal Responsibility
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

No Business As Usual
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

> Not Just A Tool
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

The Kindness Factor
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Avraham's Legacy to his Descendants
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

ArtScroll

Divine intervention in Our Wars Against Our Enemies
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5771

No Second Thoughts
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

The House that Truth Built
Rabbi Label Lam - 5762

Abraham's Dwelling
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information