The Torah understanding is that Hashem not only created the world – something – from absolutely nothing, but that He continually sustains and supervises it. And not only does He supervise the big events in the world, He also supervises the details in all of our lives. This naturally leads to a classical question which has been discussed throughout the generations – How much can we understand this hashgacha pratit (personal Divine supervision) which occurs in each of our lives? Before addressing this very significant issue concerning hashgacha pratit, there are three important prerequisites which need to be clarified.
First – Concerning the central concept of bitachon (trust in G-d), the Chazon Ish (Emunah v’Bitachon 2:1) wrote:
There is an old misconception rooted in the hearts of many when it comes to the concept of bitachon (trust in G-d)…This fundamental trait has come to be understood as the obligation to believe that whichever result seems most beneficial to us is the one that must occur. And if one is unsure and concerned that the other possibility may happen, then this person must be lacking in bitachon.
This understanding of bitachon is wrong…for who can know the judgments of G-d and how He relates to us? Rather, bitachon means the clarity that nothing happens by chance – everything that occurs in this world is the result of a decree from G-d… While there are many different levels and gradations to bitachon [and] it is natural to be afraid when encountering a dangerous situation…included within bitachon is to remain steadfast in one’s emunah (belief in G-d) even when one considers the possibility of yissurim (painful difficulties and challenges). One’s heart remains aware that this difficulty is not random, since there is no randomness at all in the world, and everything is exclusively from G-d…
According to this, emunah (belief in G-d) and bitachon (trust in G-d) are one and the same. Emunah is the general perspective of the believer, i.e., the theory, and bitachon is its application.
The Pele Yo’etz (Erech Havtacha) says similarly:
Bitachon does not mean that G-d does everything that a person wants and that nothing difficult will ever happen to him. We see this in the tzadikim (righteous) who are poor and afflicted with severe suffering, and in the many difficult things that continually happen in the world. The essence of bitachon is, rather, that whatever happens is for the good and that Heaven sees the good in what is happening to a person. Man has very limited understanding of what happens and will perceive bad as being good and good as being bad. Only G-d knows what is truly good to be able to serve G-d and to achieve completeness. Therefore [bitachon means that], all that happens to a person should be accepted wholeheartedly with gladness, and one should have emunah in G-d that only good comes from Heaven, never bad.
Second – Not only do we need to know that everything that occurs in this world is the result of a decree from G-d, but both the Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachye held that everyone is required to believe in hashgacha pratit.
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Rabbi Asher Resnick serves as a senior lecturer at Aish Hatorah’s Executive Learning Center, and is a senior training lecturer for Aish’s Rabbinical Ordination program. As a close student of Rav Noach Weinberg, zt”l, he developed a special expertise in addressing fundamental issues in Judaism, as well as in bringing classical texts to life. As a bereaved parent, Rabbi Resnick’s extensive writings on loss, suffering and trauma provide a sensitive Jewish perspective on coping with these fundamental life cycle issues. NLEResources.com is happy to highlight several essays over the coming months featured on his website JewishClarity.com.