I used to believe; now I simply know.

Friday, 28 July, 2023 - 6:13 am

I used to believe in Divine Providence (hashgacha pratit). I heard stories, listened to lectures and went to classes, studied essays; this belief was also instilled in me at home, from the moment I was born. I believed in it.


Nowadays I don’t believe in Divine Providence – now I can see it; I know that it exists.

For the first thirty years of my life, more or less, when something happened that seemed to be upside-down, illogical, leaving me stuck or getting in the way, I needed the faith that I had saved up, all those stories and classes.


Nowadays, when something like that happens, I smile at it and know that it is for my own good, and sometimes also try to guess what the future will bring: “It will be interesting to see how all this will turn out to be for the good, and when exactly I will see it happening.”

Why is that so? It is very simple. When you live with an awareness of Divine Providence, and learn to look at everything that is happening around you as coming from that Divine Providence, you get used to seeing how Hashem arranges the puzzle of life in a wonderful way. You also learn that He is a bit wiser than you.


I used to say that “If the Master of the World would just listen to my advice, everything would be better.” Today I say, “It’s a good thing that He doesn’t listen to my wise ideas.”


On Shavuot 5723 (1963) the Rebbe explained the famous passuk from this week’s parashaparashat Va’etchanan, “Ata horeta – You have been shown in order to know that Hashem, He is the G-d. There is none beside him.” Also, the passuk shortly after that, “You shall know this day and take to your heart that Hashem, He is the G-d in heaven above and on the earth below – there is none other.”


The first verse is describing a relationship that comes down from above: You, Hashem, are the one who showed us to know that You are the G-d.” that is the faith that we received, the one we learned and read about, and received at home as well. The second is describing a relationship from the bottom up. Here, it is not Hashem who is teaching, but rather the human being, out of his life experience and with his own resources, reaches the understanding that “You shall know this day.” It is more knowledge, less belief.


And from this comes the other difference between the two psukim. What a person receives from an external source will not settle completely in his heart. The person might be convinced, and certainly he or she will believe, but the heart will still have its doubts – it has its own rules. But when a person reaches an understanding through life’s experience, working from the bottom up, then immediately after “You shall know this day,” he will experience “and take to your heart.”


Shabbat Shalom – and smile, because all is for the good!


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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