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"The Way of G-d"

Part 2: “Divine Providence”
Chapter 3: “Personal Providence”

Paragraph 8 (Part 1)

We often grow weary of our own spiritual failings and wonder if we'll ever grow close enough to G-d to cling to Him in the World to Come. After all, who are we to even dream of such a thing, let alone expect it? Aren't we the mere humans we know ourselves to be only too, too well? Is there anything extraordinary and unexpected we could ever hang our hopes on, short of direct Divine intervention, which most of us dare not expect?

There's indeed hope for us yet, we're taught. And it's based on the principle that "All Jews are responsible for each other" (Sanhedrin 27B). What that means to say is that we can associate with someone more righteous and holy than we (known as a "tzaddik"), and that he'll bring us closer to G-d than we'd have been expected to be. He'd be our "leader" (or perhaps better yet, our "mentor") in the World to Come and we'd be his subordinate.

(As an aside, recall that Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto lived before the onset of the Chassidic Movement, so he wasn't referring to a Rebbe-Chassid relationship per se. There are similarities to the Chassidic model and this one, of course, but differences as well.)

Sometimes such righteous people suffer for our sakes and others'. They'd be expected to accept that burden with the same love and understanding that they'd be expected to endure their own. This phenomenon helps to explain why the righteous sometimes suffer. Since in this instance they wouldn't be suffering because of anything they did or didn't do so much as because of what those who depend on them spiritually have done.

It would be the combination of that righteous person's own stature and holiness, and his accepting upon himself others' spiritual burdens that would lead to his and their elevation. But there are degrees of righteousness; and some righteous, holy people can effect more elevation than others, as we'll see next time.

This series is dedicated to the memory of Yitzchak Hehrsh ben Daniel, and Sarah Rivka bas Yaakov Dovid.

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