Part 2: "Divine Providence"
Chapter 6: "The System Behind Divine Providence"
Like every committee and board of directors, the Heavenly ones have their
nay-sayer, too. He's known as satan in common parlance, but he's not what
many think he is. The Hebrew word "satan" simply translates as "antagonist"
or "prosecutor", and that's the very role he plays in the grand scheme of
things. (In fact, the idea implied by "playing devil's advocate" -- taking a
negative, unpopular stance -- comes closer to the true sense of the term than
the picture presented of a red-clad, pitch-fork-toting, goateed,
In fact, he's presented in that very role of prosecutor in the most prominent
of the few times he's cited in the Bible. It's reported there that angels
presented themselves before G-d to serve on the various Heavenly committees
at one point, and that "satan also came among them" (Job 1:6).
Thus satan's role is to focus upon the negative, expose faults, harp on the
adverse, draw ugliness to the attention of others, and the like -- as any
antagonist or prosecutor would. But his function is also an indication of
G-d's compassion. After all, G-d surely knows the bad points to be brought
out in any situation (as well as all the good), and He would certainly be
expected to want them exposed for truth's sake. Yet G-d withholds His own
judgment and allows for a nay-sayer who might indeed not be that persuasive
to the members of "the board". Satan's powers are also otherwise limited in
that there are times when he isn't even allowed to participate.
Understand, though, that satan is also an internal phenomenon, and has far
deeper inner implications. He and the "yetzer harah" -- our so very human
inclination to avoid G-dliness -- are said to be one and the same. Satan is
thus that part of the "committee", if you will, that meets in our being each
and every moment that we "convene" to make decisions. And it's he who speaks
out against holiness, and demeans righteous and moral stands.
This series is dedicated to the memory of Yitzchak Hehrsh ben Daniel,
and Sarah Rivka bas Yaakov Dovid.
Subscribe to Ramchal and receive the class via e-mail.