Monday, September 29, 2014
Providence - Again!
According to the great rationalist medieval scholars, generally not. (I discuss their views in The Challenge of Creation.)
But it's very hard for me to accept that perspective, because I see so much providence in my own life. I once wrote a post, "Providence In My Life," about how the various nefarious zealots who campaigned ten years ago to destroy Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky and myself all met their downfall in ways that delegitimized their "holy" mission. In this post, I'd like to discuss a different example.
Many years ago, when I was in the shidduch parashah, I started out with a very clear picture of what I was looking for. After many, many encounters which I really hoped and thought would work out, but didn't, I was beginning to despair of ever getting married. Then Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein suggested that I meet someone, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. My wife is not someone who conforms to my original (silly) criteria, and she doesn't even particularly like animals, but she is an amazing person who is good for me in ways that I never originally realized were so important.
When we were house-hunting, I very much wanted to find something with sufficient garden space to house my ever-increasing collection of unusual animals. That is not easy to find in Ramat Beit Shemesh, but I had an idea which, while not ideal, seemed to be the only possible option. I worked on it for months, trying to persuade the owner to sell, and it was going through, but then it fell through at the very last moment. I was extremely disappointed, and despaired of ever being able to find the type of place that I was looking for. Then someone showed me a home only a hundred yards from my apartment, which I had never realized was suitable. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
A few years ago, I began developing plans for a Biblical Museum of Natural History. For a year I was actively looking for a suitable temporary site, which was not easy to find. Six months ago I was recommended a building under construction in the nearby moshav of Zanoach. This seemed to be a good, and indeed the only, option, and my partner and I spent a long time working towards it. I even rented two rooms next to the building site and moved my entire collection of animals and artifacts over, in preparation to move into the building. Then, at the last minute, the whole thing fell through, due to technical obstacles. We were pretty devastated. We looked at several alternatives, and nothing was even close to fitting our requirements. I despaired of ever finding a suitable location. My wife pointed out to me that I had also despaired of finding a wife and a home, and that had worked out well, but with ruthless rationalist logic, I responded that this did not necessarily mean that this would happen every time.
Then, at the end of a whole day of scouring completely inappropriate locations, my partner noticed a "for rent" sign. Lo and behold, it turned out to be a building that was vastly more suitable than the one in Zanoach. And the rest, as they say, is history - The Biblical Museum of Natural History.
According to the strictly rationalist Rishonim, it would be wrong to view any of this as providential. But I can't help viewing it all that way!
More details about the museum to come!
Posted by Natan Slifkin