With an Eye on Eternity - Chapter 6

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With an Eye on Eternity

Chapter 6

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6. Divine Providence (hashgachah)

The Master of the Universe constantly oversees all of His creations, sustains them, and governs them in accordance with the specific purpose for which He created them. However, since man was singled out by Him to be subject to reward and punishment based upon his deeds [which are under his control because of free-will given man], His careful watch over man is different from that which He bestows upon all other species.

The purpose of Divine Providence over other species is solely to maintain each particular species within the framework of those rules and limitations which He desired. Therefore, the individual members of each and every species are supervised only in relation to those occurrences which may affect the whole of the species (hashgachah clalis), but not in relation to those happenings which solely affect the individual members. This is so because the end goal desired for them is merely to maintain intact the species as a whole.

In contrast, each and every one belonging to the species of man is not only supervised in regard to those actions or events which affect the whole of the species but also he is individually supervised (hashgachah pratis) in regard to what he himself is and does. His deeds are judged individually. Divine decrees issued focus upon him as an individual and take into account the minutest details of his actions and life.

It is of importance to know that man's actions are divided into two categories:

one) Those which are deemed to be either meritorious or a liability, that is, actions through which either a mitzvoh (positive Torah commandment) or aveiroh (Torah transgression) is produced.

two) Actions which are neither mitzvoh nor aveiroh because they constitute neither.

Everything which pertains to the performance of a mitzvoh or aveirohs is completely in the hands of man. No one coerces him to execute any specific action. The Divine Judge monitors both mitzvohs and aveirohs in order to judge them in accordance with their true nature [and He takes all factors into consideration. When judging mitzvohs He determines their true motivation. He establishes whether the actions are motivated by honor, material benefit, etc.; and assesses the purity of heart involved. In judging aveirohs He considers the temptation involved, the duress, ignorance, environment, intrinsic weaknesses or strengths etc.], and He decrees the proper recompense for them.

When man's actions are unrelated to mitzvohs or aveirohs, his connection to them is similar to that seen in the other species. Here man is subject to a lesser degree of supervision, one which consists of a general supervision. Man's actions in such cases serve as the vehicle for channeling down to him from upper world forces, specific happenings. These events are directed towards maintaining the order of the species [of man] as a whole or in order to transmit to him the rewards of punishments which he deserves. [The rewards or punishments stem from his other actions which did involve a mitzvoh or aveiroh.]

The Creator is the one who watches over all, judges all, and issues all decrees. The angels serve as His agents. Each one is responsible for carrying out his particular assignment, i.e., each one is (a) responsible for the transitional shifts of man which are to take place within a specific set of boundaries, or (b) rewarding or punishing man in ways which parallel his activities, as has been previously explained.

You must realize that the Master of the Universe truly knows all, nothing is concealed from Him, and no knowledge of events is in any way new to Him. Yet, it is not upon this basis that He administers His world and His judicial system. He established a particular system of justice which He desired. The system is similar to the system which is seen in mortal kingdoms. That is, He judges all things in courts of celestial angels. In these courts, witnesses testify about the events, prosecutors demand judgment, and defense attorneys plead the defendant's case. All of these functions are carried out by angels. Some testify about the happenings in the world, others prosecute, and still others defend. The final verdict is then reached in keeping with a true and just judgment.

Chapter 5 | Table of Contents | Chapter 7
This Book in One Big Document

With an Eye on Eternity is published by
The Kest-Lebovits Jewish Heritage and Roots Library
and is distributed by Feldheim Publishers
© 1994 Rabbi Yehudah Lebovits

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