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Question - - 02/28/2013
Is it true that everything that happens in the world is controlled by G-d?
Answer by Arachim
At first glance, it appears that people fall into two groups: those who believe in a supreme power, and those who do not, or who say they just don't know.
Believers make a conscious effort to comply with what they understand to be the will of G-d.
In contrast, non-believers do whatever they wish, or so they think. However the Torah teaches us that there is more to it than what meets the eye. If we go beyond superficial first impressions, we will discover that there is no creature in the world that does not fulfill the will of the Creator.
However, there is a distinction between the two groups. Those who believe that in a Supreme Power, try to fulfill His wishes of their own free will. In contrast, the non-believers do so against their will, or, sometimes, without being aware of the fact that their fate is controlled by the workings of Heaven.
Let's take a practical example to illustrate how this works:
In the time of the Jewish exile in Egypt, Pharaoh was informed by his astrologers that, in the near future, a Jewish woman would give birth to a baby boy destined to lead Israel out of their bondage. This would entail a major blow to the Egyptian economy and national prestige, to be avoided at all costs.
Pharaoh reacted with a cruel, heartless decree, in an attempt to save his regime and his country: all male babies born to the Jews must be drowned in the Nile River! Among them, he was certain, would be the supposed savior of the Hebrews. His massive force of slaves would remain in bondage, at his beck and call.
No Egyptian citizen, in his wildest dreams or worst nightmares, could have foreseen that it would be Pharaoh, and none other, who would eventually save the life of Moses, rather than eliminating him from the scene. What is more, Pharaoh eventually raised Moses as his own son.
Furthermore, the events that brought about this so improbable development were the direct result of the very decree that Pharaoh had designed in order to eliminate any chance of Israel's rescue.
Let us review the sequence of events as described in the Book of Exodus: Pharaoh's daughter, Batya, discovered a small, floating basket woven of rushes, in which Moses' mother had hidden him to save him from the evil decree. She took him to her home and raised him as her own son. Where did Moses grow up? Secreted away in a stuffy, hidden attic? In a dark, dank underground cavern, hidden from the prying eyes of Pharaoh's agents?
Not at all. He spent his youth in the palace of Pharaoh! And who was it that brought about this paradox? None other than the ruler of Egypt himself, author of the cruel decree that caused the death of countless innocent, Jewish baby boys. Had Pharaoh not attempted to circumvent the Creator's plans for the redemption of Israel, Moses would have grown up in the home of his parents, like all other children his age.
Paradoxically, it was through Pharaoh's intervention that Moses became a member of the royal house.
Had we been asked to concoct some scheme that would achieve this end, it is very doubtful that we would have the slightest inkling how to go about it. However, the Creator, who holds the reins of the universe in His hands, can manipulate events to achieve His aims regardless of man's attempts to thwart G-d's will. The events in the time of Pharaoh are an excellent case in point.
In the Book of Esther, we find a similar turn of events in the story of Purim. Haman advises his sovereign, Ahasureus (Xerxes), to eliminate his queen, Vashti, in revenge for her affront to the throne. As we read in the Scroll, it was demise of Vashti that led to the appointment of Esther in her stead. Similarly, Haman aspired to be celebrated as a national hero, as we see when he proposed a fitting reward for superior service to the crown:
"Let royal apparel be brought which the king is accustomed to wear, and the horse that the king rides upon, and on whose head a crown royal is set; and let the apparel and the horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man therewith whom the king delights to honor, and cause him to ride on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him: 'Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.'"
Book of Esther 6:8-9
Clearly, Haman fully anticipated that it would be he, and no one else, parading the streets of Shushan (Susa) attired in the king's crown and royal robes, and mounted on his royal steed.
What, in fact, took place? The king ordered him, Haman, to garb his arch-enemy, Mordecai the Jew, in the royal garments, and to lead him through the streets, all the while proclaiming: "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor."
In another paradoxical turn of the tables, we find Haman being hung on the very gallows that he had prepared for his chief adversary, Mordecai the Jew.
Again, these reversals are obviously the result of a Supreme Power, shaping the events of history in keeping with His will, not that of human beings.
The Hand of G-d is not always so clearly evident to us, but it is always there, shaping events, and manipulating them so that the outcome conforms to His will. True, man enjoys free will, to act as he wishes, according to his understanding.
However, in the final estimation, G-d arranges matters so that His will is fulfilled, not despite man's actions, but because of them.
Each individual stands before a crossroads of two paths, both leading to the same destination, namely, the fulfillment of Heaven's divine plan.
Man is free to choose. He can reach his destination against his will, after defying his Creator's wishes, or, optimally, he can follow the instructions set out for him by his Maker, and reach the same destination by choosing to fulfill His will.
In the one case, he will be rewarded for complying with his Maker's instructions; should he rebel, he will be punished accordingly. The choice is his and his alone.
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