The overarching principle behind G-d’s interactions with us is His utter fairness and justness, Ramchal asserts. The sad and disheartening reality is that we can’t always sense that, though. And we often seem to see evidence to the contrary. For who among us thinks that everything that has happened to him or her is fair and just? And who hasn’t seen the good suffer and the wrongful prosper?
Our struggle with this idea is an old one, though. The prophets contended with it, as did Moses himself! And not everything Ramchal says here to address it will sit well with those in pain or those good souls whose lives have been a series of contentious rebuttals to the assertion of G-d’s fairness.
But it’s our hope that what he says will allow for the realization that bad things happen, indeed — but for a good and *just* reason (even if it escapes us at the time!).
Ramchal explains our suffering in terms of G-d “disciplining” us, His “children”, the way any good parent would discipline his children (by either withdrawing things from them, or castigating them). But the point is that G-d is always motivated by love, and always has our own best interests in mind. And that He’s far removed from things like revenge and retribution; for, after all, what ego-driven need would He have for any of that?
(Indeed, many parents who are harsh with their children or punitive *say* they’re acting out of love. But as many know, often the love spoken of in that context is *self-love*, and other times it’s rooted in a pathology or other untoward factors. G-d, needless to say, is subject to none of that.)
It’s also important to underscore that G-d always tempers His judgment with mercy, and that He oftentimes suspends the rules of justice altogether and interacts with us mercifully alone (the way a parent might allow a child a minor infraction when it’s wise to do that in “the big picture”).
Recall, though, that G-d granted us each the freedom to act as we will (and to enjoy or suffer the consequences accordingly). In a way, then, G-d could be said to have subjugated His will to ours. After all, we can determine our own stature rather than depend on Him, and even do things that are against His will. But G-d isn’t really subject to our decisions, for in truth He’s in utter control of everything. So He can supersede our choice at any time and direct things as He wills, with no hindrance whatsoever. (Just let it be said, though, that this is a very recondite subject far beyond the one at hand, but not to be denied).
It stands to reason then that G-d only interacts with the world at large in a strict, “according to the letter of the law” mode when He deems it necessary to. He can always override that mode — and even suspend it if He cares to. As such, He who is above all rules and expectations can overlook anything, and can rectify everything at will should He decide to exercise His absolute authority. For His authority is above and beyond everything, since He Himself created absolutely everything — as well as everything that goes into governing it.
It’s also important to know that not only does G-d sometimes adhere to the system of strict justice and other times temper it with mercy, He also continues to sustain the universe (regardless of its ethical standing) and doesn’t allow it to be destroyed by the destructive forces within it.
This series is dedicated to the memory of Yitzchak Hehrsh ben Daniel, and Sarah Rivka bas Yaakov Dovid.
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