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Providence in My Life
Hashgachah pratis - Divine Providence - is a very, very difficult topic. In The Challenge Of Creation, I have a chapter devoted to exploring various aspects of it - the extent to which it operates, and the mechanism via which it works. We see that the Rishonim had a far more restricted view of providence than that which is prevalent today.
But I have to say that in my own life, I see incredible providence in all sorts of areas - marriage, career, health, home. Yes, I am aware of all the psychological explanations of how people are wired to perceive patterns where none exist. But I can't help it; there are so many things in my life that seem incredibly providential.
There is one particular area which some people have commented upon. Beginning nearly six years ago, I was the target of a campaign which caused incredible hardship for my family and myself. Today, several years later, Baruch Hashem I am fine. And where are the people who engineered this campaign and who attacked me? One rabbi, who initiated the campaign, has gone to prison for many years. Another rabbi, who was involved in rallying support for the ban and who emailed me at the time to tell me that everyone is appalled at my "nefarious" behavior, had his career and reputation destroyed when it emerged that he was involved in disgusting abuses of power involving women. The rabbi who called me from Bnei Brak to deliver the ultimatum that I must retract my books or "face scandal and humiliation," has had to flee Bnei Brak and go into hiding as a result of his involvement with a financial scandal. A Rosh Yeshivah in Bnei Brak who was also involved in engineering the campaign has had some of his talmidim renounce him in disgust as a result of his involvement with the same financial scandal. And now a rabbi who viciously attacked me in two shiurim and a public letter, who claimed to be motivated by concern for rabbinic authority, is being publicly condemned, with calls for his employers to disassociate from him, as a result of audio recordings of him insulting a distinguished rabbinic authority and equating Modern Orthodoxy with Conservative Judaism.
A Rav that I know commented on the incredible display of Divine poetic justice here. Indeed! But in this particular category of providential events in my life, I can see how it can be reconciled with a certain view of providence. According to this view, providence does not mean God actually intervening, but rather that He has set things up such that those who engage in evil eventually bring destruction upon themselves, while those who pursue good find peace and tranquility. In this situation, it means that people who engage in vicious acts of kanna'us are usually people who are trying to make up for huge shortcomings in their own life, and/or vicious people who eventually go too far. Either way, they end up with their just desserts.
Approaching the Yamim Nora'im, and the sixth anniversary of that fateful call from Bnei Brak, I find this message not only inspirational, but also very timely.