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Divine Providence

By Rabbi Yehonatan Salem

As we proceed through the book of Shemot, we read about the slavery and persecution that the Jews suffered under Egyptian rule. G-d warned Pharoah, through his emissaries Moshe and Aharon, that if he does not free the Jews, he and his people will suffer terrible plagues. Essentially, Pharaoh believed that G-d had created the world, but thereafter, had left its running in the hands of powers of idolatry. He reasoned that it is below the dignity of G-d, the Creator of the world, to be involved in such mundane matters. The lessons of the supernatural plagues and the miraculous redemption of the Jewish People taught Pharaoh that, on the contrary, G-d is directly involved in the running of the world on a daily basis.

This is why our redemption from Egypt plays such a major role in our religion: Every recital of the shemah, each time we wear tefillin, and every kiddush of Shabbat and festivals reminds us about our exodus from Egypt. Through the miracles of our redemption, G-d made the following statements in a very clear manner: He created the entire world from nothing, He supervises the actions and destiny of every single individual, and He remains the supreme Ruler of the world, not championed by anyone.

It is part of our basic emunah – faith, to realize that G-d is constantly involved in the life of every single Jew. A person will not bang his finger unless it has been decreed from Above. All the

more so, events greater than this, change of circumstances, trials and tribulations are all tailor-made specifically for each person, to learn from them and grow spiritually. A person who thinks about what happens to him in his life and does not merely assume that   “it is all a coincidence,” will be able to develop a closer and more personal relationship with Hashem, since he appreciates that he is being guided by Him.

For example, a man may travel abroad on business, and unexpectedly, meet his intended wife. Thus, what he thought was to be a business trip, G-d had planned otherwise. The Zohar teaches that if a needy person stretches out his hand to us for help; it is not because he needs our help, but rather, we are in need of an opportunity to give. G-d has many ways to take care of people, so if He sent this person to you, that is because you need the merit of giving. When we internalize this approach to life,  believing and trusting that G-d runs the world, events will take on a totally different meaning.

People may ask: where are “the daily miracles” that we mention and pay tribute to G-d for them in our prayers? The answer is that if we pay attention to the events in our daily lives, we will see that our lives are literally one long miraculous process. Thinking about the sequence of events, “why I just happened to be there at that time”, and “just happened to meet him”, or, “didn’t meet him”, may help us unravel some of the mystery behind the guiding Hand of G-d, that is interwoven into every step of our lives.

Let us start keeping a diary, recording daily any occurrence or incident from which we see G-d’s directly-intervening Hand. With time, we will see that there is too much to write! The more we look for Hashem in our daily lives, the more we will become aware of His providence towards us and enjoy our personal relationship with Him.

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