|Ramchal Da'at Tevunot Text IV|
|Written by Rabbi Avrham Brandwein|
This is the meaning of believing that Hashem is mashgiach (oversees and supervises) everything. Because, to the best of our understanding, Hashem Yitbarach is the Ultimate Good, and His desire is to bestow the Ultimate Good on us,
which, as Ramchal explains in Derech Hashem, is the reward of being able to attach ourselves to Him based on our own efforts.
Therefore, even those things that happen to us that do not seem to be for our benefit, still, we are commanded to believe that these things also come from Him.
The problem is, and this is what bothers the Neshamah, besides believing in this, she wants to understand.
So the Sechel asks: What exactly is difficult for you to understand about this?
The Neshamah now articulates her problem: [I am bothered by] certain powerful events that take place in the world [and which cause great changes in the world], which seem at first sight to indicate the opposite of (or a complete absence of) Hashgachah (Divine Providence), God forbid. [The problem is that] it is almost impossible to logically understand such events because we cannot see where they lead to. [The total concealment that characterizes these events prevents us from understanding] what Hashem wants from His creations. To what end is He directing things? What will the final unfolding be? For Hashem's actions are so vast that the human mind cannot comprehend them. I would therefore like you to teach me and guide me on a straight path, to see the rightness of these things, without deviating to the right or left.
First of all it is important to be aware of a very important principle. The questions that the Neshamah asks are not questions of curiosity, or academic or philosophical questions. Concerning questions like these, the Mishnah in Chapter Two of Chagigah has already taught us: Whoever contemplates the following things - it would have been better had he not been born: What is above, what is below, what was before, and what will be after.
This refers to a person who wants to probe what reality was like before Hashem created the world, or what will be in the end of days, the final generations, what will happen then... These are not practical questions. The Neshamah, on the other hand, wants to know about those things that have a bearing on her, so that she will be able to serve Hashem better. This is consistent with what we saw at the beginning, "Know today and bring [this knowledge] into your heart that Havayah is the Supreme Being." It is for this reason that the Neshamah does not ask about Hashem's Unity, His Eternity. Rather, she asks about things that human beings have trouble understanding about their own lives, namely, the things that seem to indicate the opposite of Hashgachah, the absence of Hashgachah.
What is the opposite of Hashgachah? It is known that when we speak about Hashem, we understand that He is utterly Good and wishes to make that Goodness accessible to us. And this is how we should conceive of Him, that He is HaTov VeHaMetiv, utterly Good and Giving. Still, there are certain experiences that seem to contradict this. For instance, as we shall see, the problem of the suffering of the righteous, and the success of the wicked. Each and every individual is bothered by and grapples with these things in one way or another. Sometimes we feel that Hashem is with us, allowing us to transcend our circumstances. At other times, all seems so dark. Hashem's Presence is greatly concealed. In other words, sometimes we experience aliyot (ascents) and at other times, yeridot (descents).
Therefore, in order to really come to the clear Knowledge of Havayah Hu HaElokim, we have to know that Havayah, Hashem's Compassion, His Goodness also determines everything that happens in our lives, that Havayah Hu HaElokim. Even Elokim, and Elokim alludes to the powers of Nature, and in Nature we see that things do not always seem to fit our concept of Hashem's running the world for our benefit... Even Elokim.
It is about this that the Neshamah asks. Why? Because her whole ability to serve Hashem depends on her making peace with these things. These are therefore not only philosophical or theoretical questions, but questions of practical concern. Therefore the whole difference between true Torah and philosophical speculation is that Torah concerns itself with the service of the heart. We thus see that the answers that were given by the Prophets and all the great Leaders of Israel, were not answers of what seemed most correct, but answers that they had already lived through and with, meaning to say, they grasped them in actuality, as the verse itself tells us, "And bring this knowledge into your heart." Therefore, they did not just give us good guesses or nice theories, or what seemed right to them.