Part 2: "Divine Providence"
Chapter 8: "The Details of Divine Providence"
The overarching principle behind G-d's interactions with us is His utter
fairness and justness, Ramchal asserts. The sad and disheartening reality
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
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
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
always motivated by love, and always has our own best interests in mind.
He's far removed from things like revenge and retribution; for, after all,
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
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
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,
that this is a very recondite subject far beyond the one at hand, but not to
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
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
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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