Sources that question our ability to understand hashgacha

Before speaking about our ability to understand hashgacha pratit, the Chafetz Chaim (Sheim Olam – Chapter 3) reaffirms the fundamental principle that:

“Every single thing that occurs in this world, from the earth until the heaven, is entirely under the hashgacha of G-d. The Rabbis have spoken extensively about the topic of hashgacha – ‘No man stubs his toe below unless it has been decreed upon him from above’ (Chulin 7b)… A person needs to consider his actions and see the hashgacha that has come upon him, and he will thereby strengthen his bitachon. And even if the hashgacha is not so obvious, for example when one profited because the price for the entire market went up, he should think about his particular relationship to this situation, and then the hashgacha will become revealed.”

The Chafetz Chaim then cautions us regarding the level of clarity we will actually be able to achieve:

“A person comes here [to this world] for just a few years, and he wants to understand answers to all of his questions… But the days of a person are extremely brief, and he sees very little of the world and its matters, like a traveler that goes from place to place. He barely recognizes who he himself is and what he is supposed to accomplish. This may be his first time in this world, or perhaps he has already been here many different times, and he has still not completed his task. It is written in the name of the Ari that today virtually all of the souls are gilgulim (reincarnations). Since a person’s knowledge is so limited, he can’t investigate the actions of the King of Kings. A person [therefore] needs to walk with Him with purity, and to have emunah that every single thing He does is entirely for the best, since nothing bad comes from Above. Then he will certainly merit to see that, in the end, these very things were entirely good and kind.”

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz (Sichot Mussar #18) also spoke about our limitations in understanding our yissurim:

“As precious and beneficial as yissurim are, in order for one to derive this benefit and to understand them properly, he must have a Rav…The most valuable lesson a student could receive from his Rav is how to understand yissurim.

“There are so many different levels and details of pain that may be factored into yissurim, both physical as well as spiritual, from the most subtle to the most difficult — how can a person possibly know which ones are coming for which issues?

“In addition, when a person does stop to consider the purpose and message of his yissurim, he may easily end up understanding them incorrectly… The nature of people is not to see their own failings, and therefore they will twist the yissurim to another direction entirely…

“The preciousness of yissurim is not only that they help us to fix our direction in life, but also that they show us just how much G-d cares about us. As the Gemara Arachin 16b says – “One who goes 40 days without yissurim has acquired this [temporal] world” – and lost his connection to Olam Haba (the World to Come).

“We see that there are many great and elevated benefits to yissurim, but for all of them one needs a Rav, to learn from him the Torah of eternal life, the Torah of yissurim. And then through the yissurim, it will be possible for one to reach all of the exalted levels and life in Olam Haba.” Please click here to read the full article


Next month we’ll conclude the hashgacha pratit series featuring practical guidelines and some concluding sources.


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. is happy to highlight several essays over the coming months featured on his website



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