Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Rambam Holds of Hashgacha Pratis on Every Detail of Creation.

Now before you academics get into a tizzy based on my title, pointing out the different levels of Hashgacha Pratis (Divine Providence) from Moreh Nevuchim and the idea of Hashgacha Klalis (general providence, as opposed to specific providence) in seforim like the Sefer HaChinuch & Shomer Emunim (cited here), you must know that there are different levels of Hashgacha. But before understanding how the Rambam agreed with the Baal Shem Tov that Hashem's hashgacha is on every individual detail of creation, we must first see the first side of the Stira in the Rambam.

The Rambam writes in Moreh Nevuchim, Vol. III, ch. 17 the following (translation by

The approach of our Torah is that… Divine Providence focuses on the individual only in regard to the human species… With regard to animals and how much more so, with regard to plants… [His] Providence governs the species as a whole, but not its individual components.

(And in ch. 18:) Divine Providence does not rest upon all men equally…. As to the fools who rebel [against Him],… their interests will be loathed and will be controlled by the [natural] order as are those of the animals. To them can be applied the verse:7 "He (a sinner) is comparable to the animals who cannot speak."
It might appear for this and similar statements that the Rambam is making a blanket statement that there is no hashacha pratis (specific Divine Providence) of any kind on every detail of the world, including animals and inanimate objects.

However, this cannot be true.

The Yerushalmi in Shvi'is 9:1 tells the story of what happened when Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his son Reb Elazar left the cave after 13 years of hiding. "נפיק ויתיב ליה על פומא דמערתא חמא חד צייר צייד ציפרין פרס מצודתי' שמע ברת קלא אמרה דימוס ואישתיזב' ציפור אמר ציפור מבלעדי שמיא לא יבדא כ"ש בר נשא ." "[Rebbi Shimon and his son] went out by the mouth of the cave and they saw a man trapping birds with a net. They heard a Bas Kol [heavenly voice] call out "Free!" and the bird got away. He [Rashbi] said: A bird will not be saved without the help of Heaven, how much the more so human beings." We see from this that Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his son Reb Elazar viewed whether or not a bird is captured in a net as being the will of Hashem, and not only part of some automatic mechanistic system called "nature."

Also, The the Baal HaTanya points out that the Gemara in Chulin 63a, says, "ר' יוחנן כי הוה חזי שלך אמר (תהילים לו) משפטיך תהום רבה." "When Rav Yochanan would see a heron, he would say 'Your judgments are in the lowly depths [since You judge that this particular heron should kill this particular fish].'" The Rambam would not be able to simply ignore this Gemara.

Actually, the Rambam himself implies in many places that he agrees with the approach to Hashgacha Pratis that was later articulated by the Baal Shem Tov. He says in Hilchos Teshuva 6:2 , "בזמן שאדם אחד, או אנשי מדינה חוטאים, ועושה החוטא חטא שעשה מדעתו וברצונו, כמו שהודענו--ראוי להיפרע ממנו; והקדוש ברוך הוא יודע היאך ייפרע." "When one person or the people of a nation sin, the sinner sins of his own will, and as I have said, it is appropriate for him to be punished. And Hashem knows how to punish [him]." The Rambam here is speaking of sinners, both Jews and non-Jews. He does not limit the scope of his statement to intellectually accomplished Jews or even Jews in general. He says that Hashem is mashgiach over them (supervises them) both in the fact of the punishment and in the specific method of punishment that is appropriate to each individual. This would clearly fall outside the scope of the superficial meaning of what he said in Moreh Nevuchim.

The Rambam also says in Hilchos Teshuva 6:5 that "לפי שחטא מעצמו תחילה והרע לישראל ... נתן הדין למנוע ממנו התשובה." "Since [Par'oh] sinned on his own first and harmed the Jewish people... Hashem judged him by withholding Teshuva from him." You see from this also that even Par'oh, who is certainly not the kind of elevated person being referred to in Moreh Nevuchim, has hashgacha pratis that defines what happens to him in this world according to the Rambam, and he isn't merely subject to some automatic and mechanistic system of natural law. (While the Rambam in M.N. merely asserts a greater level of "Hashgacha Pratis" over elevated people, he does not differentiate here between how this principal would apply to Paroh vs. a regular gentile vs. a Jew.)

Actually, Rambam himself openly states that Hashgacha Pratis (Divine Providence) applies to every detail of creation! In laying out the contradiction between Divine knowledge and the existance of free will, the Rambam says " דע שהכול בחפצו ייעשה, ואף על פי שמעשינו מסורין לנו." "You should know that everything is done according to [Hashem's] will, and nevertheless our actions are in our hands." (Rambam Hilchos Teshuva 5:7) The Rambam identifies the source of the apparant Knowledge/Choice contradiction in terms of nothing happening except through His will one one hand, and our free choice on the other hand.

Furthermore, one can also see that same shita (holding) from the continuation of that Ramabam. He goes on to say that in reality, Hashem's knowledge [of our future choices for example] is beyond our comprehension since He and His "knowledge" are One with His Essence. He then says that due to this fact, "אין בנו כוח לידע היאך ידע הקדוש ברוך הוא כל הברואים ומעשיהם." "We do not have the ability to know how the Holy One knows all creatures and their actions" (Hilchos Teshuva 5:12). But how could the Rambam say that it is impossible to understand this? The Rambam could have just answered very simply. Hashem knows what people will do in the future, in the same way that people are aware of what they themselves did in the past. But just as a person's knowledge of what he did in the past does not alter the free choice with which he acted, so too Hashem's awareness of what we "will" choose does not imply any control over that choice; merely knowledge of it!

So why doesn't the Rambam give this answer? It seems that, as I brought from the Rambam above, "שהכול בחפצו ייעשה," nothing happens without Hashem desiring it. If nothing happens without Hashem desiring it, and this is all implied by Hashem's knowledge as the Rambam said, which is One with His Essence (k'vayachol), then this would indeed be a major contradiction to the very existance of free will. It is not so much Hashem's knowledge of what we "choose" that is the yediah/bechira problem, then, but rather the fact that Hashem's hashgacha controls every molecule of creation that creates the problem. If this were not the case, then the Rambam wouldn't have had to leave the free will issue as an איבעיא דלא אפשטא, an unanswered question. The reason must be that the Rambam recognizes Hashem's direct control over every part of creation.

It would seem that at least the Mei Hashiloach, clearly a talmid of the Derech HaBaal Shem Tov, thought that it was obvious that there is no stira, contradiction, between the Rambam's shita and the Baal Shem Tov's approach because he essentially advocates the Rambam's shita without even bothering to explain why there is no stira. He says at at the bottom of the first column in Parshas Bamidbar that while Hashem is "mashgiach al kol nefesh b'frat," "supervises every soul specifically" by the Jewish people, with regard to the nations of the world, he is only "[mashgiach] al kulam b'chlal l'kiyum hamin," "supervises them all in a general way for the perpetuation of the [human] race." This is essentially the Rambam's shita, yet it seems that it is obvious to him that this does not contradict the general approach of the Baal Shem Tov! But for us, who may not know how to resolve the apparant stira within the Rambam himself and the apparant stira some see between the Rambam and the Baal Shem Tov's approach, what is the resolution?

There are several approaches to understanding why the Rambam is not a stira either with himself of the explanation of the Baal Shem Tov.

One reason why the Rambam's statement about no hashgacha on every creature and inanimate object in creation is not in conflict with the Baal Shem Tov's approach is that the type of Divine Providence that the Rambam was talking about was was one that went hand-in-hand with the concept of reward and punishment. Since animals, inaniment objects and molecules don't get reward & punishment, they can't be subject to the type of hashgacha pratis (Divine Providence) that the Rambam was discussing. Whereas, in terms of Hashem decreeing every detail of creation, of course the Rambam would not deny that this is the reality. This is the approach taken by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt"l, here.

One of my rebbeim has a different approach. He says that the different approaches to Hashgacha Pratis are talking about the following two types of what may both be called "Hashgacha Pratis." #1) The notion that Hashem controls and decrees every aspect of creation is the "type" of Hashgacha Pratis that virtually everyone, including the Rambam, agree with, as is evident from what he wrote in Hilchos Teshuva above and from the fact that the Gemara says this as well. #2) The notion that there is an interactive Providence whereby the actions, midos and tefillos of a person will "affect" the way that Hashem relates to that person is the "type" of Hashgacha Pratis which is unique to human beings, and especially to those who have elevated themselves.

The Rambam, the Shomer Emunim, the Sefer Hachinuch and the Mei Hashiloach quoted above were rejecting the notion that the second type of Hashgacha Pratis applies to all humans equally, or to animal, plant life or to inanimate objects. They are teaching us that it is foolish to think that if your cat Mittens is merciful on the next mouse that enters the house, that Hashem will mida-keneged-mida, measure-for-measure exhibit commensurate kindness to Mittens. However, they would not deny the fact that the infinite G-d is present and in control of every detail of Creation. Were this not the case, those details would represent an absence of Hashem, Chalila, which would contradit the fact of His infiniteness.

Regardless of which approach to understanding the coexistance of these two general statements about Hashgacha Pratis, an ancillary question, though, would be: Why do academics and academically oriented Orthodox Jews as well, feel so married to this idea that Hashem is not be involved and close in every aspect of our lives? Naturally, they would answer that it is brave, intellectual honesty that motivates them! I have my own ideas about this but I'm curious to hear what others think as well. Let the sparks fly!

-Dixie Yid

Update: See my new clarifying post HERE)

(Picture courtesy of

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A Simple Jew said...

What caused you to look in to this subject to begin with? Was there something about viewpoints seemingly at odds with each other that troubled you?

Your analysis reveals that you are a true intellectual! Just as I was impressed how you were able to recreate the dvar Torah by Rabbi Tepher, I am truly impressed how you were able to put all this together.

My simplistic mind, however, gets confused very quickly with such discussions and I just rely on what the Baal Shem Tov said...

A Simple Jew said...

One more thing, I would strongly encourage you to write a posting that gives your insight into the question you raised in the last paragraph of your posting. This is the true essence of the issue and where the rubber meets the road!

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

I wouldn't sell yourself short! Thank you for your kind words as well.

The thing that got me on the subject was that I was troubled by the Mei Hashiloach that I quoted in the article. A couple of weeks ago on Parshas Bamidbar when I saw the Mei Hashiloach say that there was hashgacha Klalis so I asked my friend who's much more learned than me, Rabbi Reuven Boshnack. I also asked Rav Weinberger and I asked another rebbe of mine as well. They all said that the Mei Hashiloach couldn't mean literally that he held that Hashem did not exercise control over every detail of creation. Specifically, that one of my rebbeim who I quoted for the Derech on approaching the stira in the Rambam pointed out several of these diukim in the Rambam that I used.

At any rate, that was what instigated the post!

Freelance Kiruv Maniac (Mr. Hyde) said...

Two points:
I'm not sure how the second resolution as you presented it is meaningfully different than the first.
If the way Hashem interacts with free-willed creatures is through mida-kinegged-middah, isn't that the very foundational principle of reward and punishment?

I would have instead emphasised that that besides (or in contrast to) middah kinegged midda, Hashem also interacts with human beings to bring about HIS masterplan of creation that is not dependant on any midda-kinneged-midda.

But then we bump into another problem: that Hashem apparently interacts with reshaim towards His own purposes too, (ie. Nevuchanezzer, Haman, Titus, Hitler, etc.) and that would go against the Rambam who says such people are abandoned to pure chance and are ostensibly NOT included in the masterplan.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


Then even better. It's always best to avoid multiplying opinions if possible. If you're right that "interactive Hashgacha Pratis" is synonymous with reward and punishment, then fine. All the better.

Although there is a subtlty in the idea of "interactive Hashgacha Pratis" which would be unique to Humans in general, and Jews more specificly and to "higher level Jews" even more specificially. And that is the idea of being "Me'orer" various midos in Hashem based on our conduct. That's not only an idea of "reward and punishment" per se. If I fail to be merachem, have mercy, on others, I could do this without being over on any issurim. However, it may be me'orer the same mida in Hashem of not having rachamim on me, ChV"Sh. In that way, you see that this idea seems to include a larger swath of life than the topic of "schar v'onesh" alone.

And your last paragraph is just what I was talking about in the article where the Rambam says that these Reshaim were punished specifically by having their ability to do teshuva taken away. Like you said, that indicates that the Rambam holds that they are not given over to chance. Indeed they are not given over to chance literally. It fits in very well with what I wrote! (That's why I quoted it. :-)) There is indeed hashgacha pratis on them too. Not in the sense of my actions "causing a reflective reaction" in Hashem, but just in the sense that Hashem decrees what will happen to them as a consequence of their actions. In that light, the Rambam who says they will be given over to chance should actually be interpretted to mean that Hashem will cause things to happen to them in a way that reflects how things would happen to them by chance, were chance to even exist, which it doesn't. Is it "real" chance? Or is it Memorex? In this case, the chance that Hashem hands the Reshaim over to would be a Memorex version of chance.

But IH"N, they would be part of the masterplan accd to the Rambam too and the chance they are given over to would be kind of a "virtual chance."

-Dixie Yid

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


Perhaps if I wrote about the topic of what drives people to be so focused to the point of unclear thinking with regard to the Rambam and hashgacha pratis is a very interesting topic. But I'm also aware that such a post would be mischaracterized as a personal attack on the proponents of such a position. And I don't know if they would experience increased self-knowledge from such a post, without being open to hearing it.

However, after the discussion on this post dies down (could be by this afternoon... Who knows!) perhaps I will work on that. :-)

What do you think about it?

-Dixie Yid

A Simple Jew said...

I agree 1000% with what the Lubavitcher Rebbe once said, "I don't believe in philosophy - I believe in ideas that change people."

This means that you need to bring the theory behind what you wrote down and apply it to the here and now and address the issue of WHY a person prefers to have a distant Hashem and not a Hashem who is involved in every facet of existence.

You have proven time and time again that you can write with nuance and I believe that you would be the perfect person to write such a posting. People would know that your intention is not to be acrimonious but rather to frankly discuss an important topic.

Sometimes its not good to only post "safe" postings....

Chaim B. said...

>>>Whereas, in terms of Hashem decreeing every detail of creation, of course the Rambam would not deny that this is the reality.

Let's take a specific example: Does G-d's hashgacha cause a leaf falling off a tree to fall in a specific place? The Besh"t says yes; the Chinuch, based on the Rabam, says no and it would be foolish to think so. Pretty clear contradiction that I don't see how you have resolved.

The L. Rebbe does not deny the contradiction, but solves it by semantics. What the Rishonim call teva the Besh"t would call hidden hashgacha.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Chaim B:

I was looking forward to see what you'd say! But back to business.

The Chinuch's assertion regarding the leaf, in light of the Rambams quoted above and the Gemaras, if he's basing himself on the Rambam, would then be interpreted to mean that anyone who says that the leaf has to fall at that time because of some zechus or pegam in the leaf "rachok min hasechel." That would be a more sensible pshat in the Chinuch than one which places him at odds with the Rambam, on whom he is ostensibly based, or the Gemara. That kasha would be more difficult than reading a pshat in his words which might not fit quite as tightly.

As to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt"l, you are incorrect. By showing how there is no contradiction since the Rambam referring to one thing and the Baal Shem Tov referring to another, as I wrote above, he is obviously showing that, he is showing that there is no contradiction. He starts off stating the obvious apparant contradiction. And he resolves it by showing how the two are talking about different things and so there is no more contradiction. Perhaps you meant that when he poses, the question, before he gets to his answer, he does not "deny" the contradiction... If so, then yes you are correct. But after his resolution, it's clear he holds there's no contradiction.

-Dixie Yid

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Also, interestingly, R' Bechhoffer writes in the comments there at Chaim's blog ( that he holds there is indeed a contradiction, but that the Besht "compelled" Hashem to change the reality of how He runs the world...

-Dixie Yid

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Jonathan Baker, from Than Book, responded to my post in his post HERE. I will quote it here in full and then respond in the next comment:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Thinking Like the Rambam
Dixie Yid recently posted an article purporting to demonstrate that the Rambam agrees with the Baal Shem Tov on the nature of Hashgacha Pratit (individual providence). I’ve looked over his sources, and it seems to me impossible to read the Rambam to say what he wants.

Rambam is not like other Jewish thinkers. His ideas are not the standard Kabbalah-based ones that have dominated Jewish theology since. Moshe Idel and Menachem Kellner would argue that, in fact, Zoharic Kabbalah developed as a response to Rambam’s philosophic theology, but that’s another post (or three). Be that as it may, to read Rambam accurately, you have to read him on his own terms, not as a source of quotes to prove someone else’s point.

If “academics” are the only ones to read Rambam on his own terms, rather than through the filter of Kabbalistic Judaism, then so be it. Our LOR, who is also an academic philosopher, has been teaching Hilchot Teshuvah and Hilchot Melachim in his weekly shiur for the past couple of years, and it is almost like pulling teeth to get most of us to take off our Kabbalah/East-European folk religion glasses, and read the Rambam on his own terms. I won’t say that my understanding is based on his, since we didn’t cover these chapters, but I do try to separate the Rambam from our cultural filters.

To the substance of my critique:

I submit that Reb Yid has taken the Rambam out of context, repeatedly, selectively quoting opinions that the Rambam himself rejects, if read in context.

From Hilchot Teshuvah 6:2 (Yemenite paragraph numbering): "When one person or the people of a nation sin, the sinner sins of his own will, and as I have said, it is appropriate for him to be punished. And Hashem knows how to punish [him]."

Reb Yid takes this to mean that God’s Providence lies upon that individual or that nation directly. What the passage says, however, is that while individuals or nations can sin, God knows how they will be punished. This is talking about reward and punishment, not about Providence. We must distinguish between three things: Providence, Knowledge, and Consequences.

Providence is necessarily first – it is God’s will that something should happen, and the application of His Will to make it happen.

Knowledge is, or is about, the happening itself. As Rambam says, God is the Knower, the Knowledge and the Known – the purest infinite Intellect. He knows that something will happen, He knows that it is happening, He is the Happening itself. But Knowledge is not Direction. For instance, my parents know, that absent changes in circumstances beyond our control, that we will be in Parsippany this weekend. (changes could include illness, God forbid, or my sister-in-law giving birth, IY”H, etc. – God is not limited by these circumstances, He Knows what will happen). But that doesn’t mean that my parents are exerting their Will to ensure that I will be in Parsippany. Knowledge, even foreknowledge, is not Direction, is not Causation.

Consequences are what happens as a result of one’s actions. For our purposes, Reward and Punishment.

We should note that in his 13 Foundational Principles, the Rambam states as axioms of the Torah system, that God Knows all (10th Principle) and that God dispenses reward and punishment as appropriate (11th Principle). The Rambam does not regard it as a necessary belief that God directs every action in the world.

So all this statement says is an affirmation of the 10th and 11th Principles – that God knows what individuals or nations do in this world, and punishes or rewards them appropriately. It says nothing about God’s direction of action in this world.

This would clearly fall outside the scope of the superficial meaning of what he said in Moreh Nevuchim.

As shown above, not at all. It says nothing to contradict what the Rambam said in the Guide. Knowledge of sin, and Consequences of sin, are not Divine Direction to sin.

Reb Yid then gives the example of God imposing His Will upon Paroh, in impeding Paroh’s ability to do teshuvah, as an example of Rambam admitting to individual Divine Providence upon a non-Jew. This is in fact exactly the opposite of what the Rambam is demonstrating. Rambam says: "Since [Par'oh] sinned on his own first and harmed the Jewish people... Hashem judged him by withholding Teshuva from him." It was solely as a Consequence of Paroh’s individual Action that Hashem imposed a punishment on him, to prevent him from repenting. It was solely because Paroh willed to sin, that Hashem then imposed a greater punishment on him. But make no mistake – for Rambam, Paroh, not God, initiated the sequence of events.

Actually, Rambam himself openly states that Hashgacha Pratis (Divine Providence) applies to every detail of creation! In laying out the contradiction between Divine knowledge and the existance of free will, the Rambam says "You should know that everything is done according to [Hashem's] will, and nevertheless our actions are in our hands." (Rambam Hilchos Teshuva 5:7) The Rambam identifies the source of the apparant Knowledge/Choice contradiction in terms of nothing happening except through His will one one hand, and our free choice on the other hand.

No, that’s only one side of the paradox, that’s not his final word on how things are. One way to resolve it is to say that it is His Will that we have free will. He created us with free will, and thus anything we do is by His Will, but not directly. It’s like a teacher, who says “you can write your term paper on any subject you choose within the subject matter of the class.” The teacher didn’t will that Zev should write about the origins of the steam engine, but Zev’s choice to write about the origins of the steam engine is a consequence of, and consonant with, the teacher’s will.

Further, Reb Yid says, the doctrine of individual guidance of every blade of grass follows from the Rambam’s continuation of that paragraph. In fact, that’s not the case. He states the paradox, but does not solve it.

Reb Yid notes that there are several solutions to the apparent stira between the Rambam and himself, or between the Rambam and the Baal Shem Tov. One such solution, that he does not note, is to read the Rambam on his own terms, rather than as a source of quotes to support your predetermined conclusion.

For the proposed solutions:

I don’t have a Mei haShiloach to see what the Izbitzer says in context, so I can’t speak to it.

The late Lubavitcher Rebbe leaves it a paradox – of course the Besht is true, but we can’t dismiss the Rambam, so we live with the paradox. Paradox is central to Chabad theology (see Rachel Elior’s The Paradoxical Ascent to the Divine), so this works for him.

Reb Yid’s rebbe simply denies the Rambam’s own position, and replaces it with the Besht’s, then adding a third type of Providence to the equation.

The Rambam, in the Guide III:17-18, talks about Divine Providence. He explicitly rejects the “every blade of grass has its angel” theory in III:17. Now, there is a whole academic literature on “secrets of the Guide”, where the Rambam says one thing but secretly means another, in accord with his introduction that states that there are hidden things in the Guide. But where the same idea is backed up by the Mishneh Torah? It seems pretty clear that Rambam rejects total providence in the Guide as “absurdity”, says nothing about Providence in the 13 Foundations, and nowhere in the MT states the theory of total providence as a necessity, only as a question that the non-enlightened would ask.

In essence, Reb Yid begs the question. He presumes his answer, that “everyone believes in the Beshtian view of Hashgacha Pratit”, and then has to k’neitch the Rambam, by pulling quotes out of context, by reading them through a filter of “of course Kabbalah is true”, to force the Rambam to agree. In this, he joins a long tradition of Kabbalists who, not wanting to leave the Rambam out in the cold as the greatest mind of the Rishonim, finds ways to pretend the Rambam accepted Kabbalah. In fact, though, the Rambam had his own intellectual mysticism, totally unrelated to the neo-Platonic sephirotic emanationism of the [then proto-]Kabbalah. His concept of Divine Providence flows from that, while the Besht’s flows from Kabbalistic antecedents.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Jonathan Baker, from Than Book, responded to my post in his post HERE. The following is a partial response to his critique:

Jonathan argues that I have taken the Rambam out of context. One point he makes is that when I pointed out that the Rambam says that Hashem punishes Par'oh and knows how to punish him that I was saying that Hashem causes Par'oh to sin and then causes the punishment. He said, "It was solely because Paroh willed to sin, that Hashem then imposed a greater punishment on him. But make no mistake – for Rambam, Paroh, not God, initiated the sequence of events." However, I didn't say anything different from this. In fact, it proves the point I was making in the article, as I indicated in the article its self. Perhaps he thought that I was being medayek from the fact that the Rambam says that "Hashem knows how to punish Par'oh" from the word "knows," and that I was confusing knowledge with causation. However, my diyuk was not on the word "knows." Rather, it was on the word "how." The fact that the Rambam says Hashem knows how to punish Par'oh shows that the Rambam holds that Hashem is directing specific consequenses and punishments Par'ohs way. That's an example of hashgacha Pratis (directing specific events in this world) to someone who's a Gentile and a Rasha. That's why I quoted that source and Reb Jonathan points out nothing to the contrary in the Rambam.

Reb Jonathan, I think still in this misunderstanding of thinking that I'd said that knowledge its self is the proof of causation, points out that "Knowledge, even foreknowledge, is not Direction, is not Causation." In response to my statement that the Rambam's statement that everything happens from Hashem's will, he also said, "No, that’s only one side of the paradox, that’s not his final word on how things are." This is true to a certain point, as I pointed out in the main body of the article. The Rambam was setting out one side of the paradox. But for him to set out that side of the paradox, he must hold that his explanation of that side of the paradox is the truth also! I also pointed out that the Rambam could have answered the paradox as Jonathan himself did. Knowledge does not imply causation. Once you say that, the paradox falls away and isn't a challenge any more. The problem with that is that the Rambam doesn't take Jonathan's route. For the Rambam, this issue is further complicated by the first side of the paradox, which is the Rambam's statement that everything happens according to Hashem's will. The Rambam leaves it as an unanswered quesiton. Why??? He could have given Jonathan's answer! The answer is that we can never understand the coexistance of the two free will and Hashem's providence and knowledge (which would then be understood as one idea and not two). This is what the Rambam meant when he said we'd never be able to understand this. If Jonathan were right, then the Rambam would have been able to just give that answer!

As to Reb Jonathan's critique on the various answers: #1) The Mei Hashiloach wasn't brought as a specific answer. All he says on the subject is what I quoted. I brought that to show that a Talmid of the Besht's derech didn't mind quoting the Rambam and seemed to not view it as a stira. He doesn't give a mehalech. #2) The Lubavitcher Rebbe there does give a resolution and doesn't just leave the Rambam/Baal Shem Tov derachim as a paradox. See the piece that I linked to from the Sichos. #3) Reb Jonathan has misunderstood the Rav (not "my rebbe") that I quoted's approach. He said that the Rambam was negating a different (not-the-same-as-the-Baal-Shem-Tov) and erroneous "view" of Hashgacha Pratis. To argue that it is replacing the Rambam's view with the Besht is to argue circularly. He is essentially saying that "because the Rambam can't agree with what the Baal Shem Tov taught since that what I've thought, that any alternate reading of the Rambam from what I originally took it to be that would make the Rambam consistent with himself and the Baal Shem Tov must be replacing that view with the Rambam's. However, this "question" simply assumes that this Rav's reading of the Rambam is wrong and that it is therefore denying the Rambam's position and replacing it with the Baal Shem Tov's.

There's more to say on this and another major problem with the view that Reb Jonathan is advocating. IY"H, I'll comment more on that later.

-Dixie Yid

thanbo said...
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thanbo said...
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Anonymous said...

Dixie Yid:

Nice post. Two points.


Regarding your last paragraph, I think there is confusion about what "not having hashgacha means". It seems to me (correct me if I'm wrong) that you believe it's a quasi kefirah to believe that God does not involve Himself in everything as you write:

"It might appear...Rambam is making a blanket statement... no hashacha pratis...on every detail of the world, including animals and inanimate objects.

However, this cannot be true."

I think there is some confusion about the alternative i.e. that God ALLOWS nature to take its course.


I think that non-academics (you and probably me) think that academics claim there is no hashgacha either because

1. They believe it's pshat in the Rishonim (I agree with them)
2. Deep down they don't want to believe that God controls everything
3. Deep down they are jealous that others think simply (they perceive it as primitive)
4. They wish God did not exist so that they could lead a diff. lifestyle
5. They want others to see a diff. side.

And they view non-academics as:

1. Unsophisticated
2. Brainwashed
3. Rabbi-yes men

I think that there's diff. answers for diff. people. I myself am not sure why you are bothered by a diff. pshat in the Rambam (prob. b/c it's foreign to think that God does not "control" everything). But I think that's where a lot of the confusion arises. I don't believe that God CANNOT rather He CHOOSES NOT (whatever that means).

I do agree with you however, that there is content and process. Beneath the content of those who espouse the more intellectual/academic/less kabbalistic view is any of the options that I mentioned above. However, I would never judge a particular individual, but I do think that there are people who are really bothered by something else.

Anonymous said...

To the philosphacally learned all hth proofs that you bring speak of either:
Hashem's knowledge
First causation
Laws of nature that automatically result in retribution to sinners and reard to the tsaddikim.
The position of two derachim is ingenious but clearly not what Rambam meant.
It is OK to agree that Rambam had a different shittah but for us in our times the alternate, the majority view is more binding.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


Agenda to get people not to read your blog? If I hadn't commented here on it, many people wouldn't even know you'd written about it? And also, why would I link to your blog twice if I didn't want people reading you?

I responded to you here because this is where my post is located and so it is the natural central location for discussion about it. If I responded to you on your blog, not only would most of the people not see your response, they wouldn't see my response to yours either. But if you prefer I not let people hear you speak with your own words and only hear about what you've said second hand, then I won't copy your words again. No problem. I quoted your blog because I thought it would be fairer to you to let people hear what you actually said, rather than just hear the snippets I choose to quote from you. But you can certainly have it your way.

-Dixie Yid

thanbo said...

So here's my response:

Reb Yid's response about Paroh does not agree with what Reb Yid wrote himself.

Reb Yid claims now:

One point he makes is that when I pointed out that the Rambam says that Hashem punishes Par'oh and knows how to punish him that I was saying that Hashem causes Par'oh to sin and then causes the punishment.

which was NOT what I said. YOU claim Hashem caused Paroh to sin - see below. I claim that PAROH caused HIMSELF to sin, in the Rambam's view; Hashgocho Protis is nowhere to be seen.

Reb Yid had written: "You see from this also that even Par'oh, who is certainly not the kind of elevated person being referred to in Moreh Nevuchim, has hashgacha pratis that defines what happens to him in this world according to the Rambam, and he isn't merely subject to some automatic and mechanistic system of natural law."

He says outright that Paroh had hashgacha pratit applied to him, to *cause* him to sin, or continue sinning.

Rambam, however, uses Paroh as an example of how God does NOT apply hashgacha pratit to non-Jews. Rather, as I said, Paroh SINNED OF HIS OWN FREE WILL. Then Hashem applied a judgment against him in DIRECT RESPONSE TO PAROH'S ACT OF WILL.

Under the every-blade-of-grass theory, Hashem would have directly caused Paroh to refuse to let Israel go. But in Rambam's view, it was Paroh himself who refused to let Israel go, and the CONSEQUENCE of that refusal is that God judged him, and found it necessary to "harden Paroh's heart".

God knows, God punishes Paroh, but God did not INITIATE the action. There was no Hashgacha Pratit here. Only a non-Jew's individual will, and God's punishment for that application of individual will.

That's an example of hashgacha Pratis (directing specific events in this world) to someone who's a Gentile and a Rasha.

Which it is, only if you hold ab initio that God extends Hashgacha Pratit to every blade of grass. But RAMBAM doesn't hold like that. Your attribution of that idea to RAMBAM is not an honest reading of the RAMBAM. It may be what you believe, but it's not what RAMBAM believed.

You say X, I say not-X, you claim I criticized your saying Y, then support your claim of X. That's not honest argumentation. You have to read me, yourself, and the Rambam more carefully.

The quotes you brought from the Rambam tell us that Rambam holds that God knows the actions of non-Jews and punishes them accordingly. Not that God applies Hashgacha Pratit to non-Jews, or to trees, or to chipmunks.

As for the Rambam and paradox, Reb Yid claims that "he must hold that that side of the paradox is the truth also". No, not that it IS the truth, but that it APPEARS TO BE true. Obviously some people, like the Besht, and some Arab philosophers, feel that this "absurd" theory is true, and it has some appearance of truth, but it's only part of the issue. THE truth may or may not even be comprehensible by humans.

He also criticises my understanding of "one of [his] rebbeim". It appears to be a spelling thing - had he written "rabbeim", I might have read it correctly.

Not that the Rambam was negating a third type of hashgacha, but that this rabbi was offering a third type of hashgacha, one which is not identical with the Rambam nor with the Besht.

His rabbi's

#1: every blade of grass, which
this rabbi falsely claims Rambam agrees with (based on the flawed readngs of Reb Yid);

#2: the Rambam's view, of Hashgocho Protis for righteous Jews only, which view he does not state at all, since he falsely believes the Rambam holds like the Kabbalists that #1 is true;

#3: people can magickally affect God through proper tefillos and mitzva observance. Note that this view is neither Rambam's nor, really, the view that this rabbi and Reb Yid would attribute to the Rambam, but a third option, affected more by folk-religion.

Reb Yid should learn to read his own posts and others' more carefully.

thanbo said...


Aside from ascribing ad-hominem arguments to academics (as code for "those who disagree with the common folk religious wisdom"), I'll tell you what bothers me.

It's the inability to step out of oneself, and look critically at oneself. I took a course on Islam in college (it's a long story). The professor was a religious Muslim, but was able to pigeonhole his academic objectivity away from his religious convictions. He railed endlessly at the Muslim students (most of whom probably figured they were taking an easy class) for being unable to step outside of the religious framework, and look at the early history of Islam objectively.

It's not easy to do, but it does seem to be a desideratum. After all, why do we follow Beis Hillel over Beis Shammai? Why did the Bas Kol tell us that we follow Beis Hillel? Because a) they were kind and humble, and b) because they explain the other side's argument before giving their own position.

This ability to step outside of one's own religious positions is thus a Divine ideal in understanding Torah.

So too here. Reb Yid and his rabbi are unable to step outside the fence of his own religious convictions (that HP extends to every blade of grass) to understand the Rambam's own position (which happens not to be the same).

This is what R' Sokol has been struggling with in his weekly shiur the last couple of years: trying to get us all to read Rambam on his own terms, rather than through our common understanding of reward, punishment and the afterlife. The Rambam's concept of Olam haBa is very different from the usual one. It's valuable to understand the other positions within Judaism, if only to be able to extend personal credit towards others who think differently than you do.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Reb Jonathan,

First point: I'm not sure why you keep misreading that particular line. I'll quote you quoting me:

"Reb Yid had written: "You see from this also that even Par'oh, who is certainly not the kind of elevated person being referred to in Moreh Nevuchim, has hashgacha pratis that defines what happens to him in this world according to the Rambam, and he isn't merely subject to some automatic and mechanistic system of natural law."

He says outright that Paroh had hashgacha pratit applied to him, to *cause* him to sin, or continue sinning."

When I said "hashgacha pratis that defines what happens to him" you continue to assume that this is referring to causing Par'oh to sin in the first instance. If you'll re-read, that's not what I said. As I thought was clear and as you accurated and directly quoted my clarification, I was referring to Hashem's causing a particular punishment. If you go back to my original post, I was writing about Hashem's hashgacha. By causing the punishment to come to Par'oh, he's exercising specific hashgacha pratis over some specific punishment that would come to Par'oh. That's what I was going on.

It is also incorrect to assert that the "every blade of grass" approach" would necessarily mean that Hashem caused Par'oh to sin. The Torah says that human beings have free will and this is what the Ramabam was saying as well. How do the two ideas co-exist? We don't know. And that's what the Rambam was saying when he said that human minds cannot understand the co-existance of these two principals.

Reb Jonathan, you also said, quoting me and then commenting, "'That's an example of hashgacha Pratis (directing specific events in this world) to someone who's a Gentile and a Rasha.' Which it is, only if you hold ab initio that God extends Hashgacha Pratit to every blade of grass. But RAMBAM doesn't hold like that." Again, you yourself are unfortunately falling prey to circular reasoning. When the Rambam gives an example of Hashem exacting punishment on a specific Gentile Rasha, that's an example of Hashem decreeing specific events on a specific Gentile Rasha, just as he said. It doens't require any pre-conceived notions. To the contrary, to avoid seeing Hashem's hashgacha in decreeing specific punishments that the Rambam quotes involves the ab initio assumption that the Rambam doesn't hold of specific Hashgacha pratis in the Baal Shem Tov sense. That's circular logic since it assumes information that is the specific point of the discussion. You must read the Rambam with an open mind to what he is saying and not to what *you think* he's saying based on your past reading of the Moreh.

You said: "The quotes you brought from the Rambam tell us that Rambam holds that God knows the actions of non-Jews and punishes them accordingly. Not that God applies Hashgacha Pratit to non-Jews, or to trees, or to chipmunks." Perhaps where you're missing the point from these Rambams is that the act of punishing is an act of hasgacha pratis as well. It's decreeing a specific thing to happen to a specific person. He says this in regard to non-Jews. Not sure how you can deny that since it's meforash. As to trees and chipmunks, the Rambam affirms this as well when he says that "nothing" happens except through Hashem's will.

You claimed that the Rambam didn't state this as a truth. But the Rambam does state it as true, but leaves it as an ibaya d'lo ifsh'ta how that concept co-exists with free will. He affirms the existance of free will too. But would you say that because he says we can't understand it that the Rambam no longer clearly holds of the existance of free will? Obviously not. He holds of both, as he clearly says, neither rejecting one or the other. He simply concludes that we can't understand with our finite minds how the ideas can co-exist.

-Dixie Yid

micha said...

The title of this post is in direct contradiction to the title of Moreh Nevuchim III:18, which is translated by Friedlander (in the index) as "Every Individual Member of Mankind enjoys the Influence of Divine Providence in proportion to his Intellectual Perfection".

That chapter opens:
"HAVING shown in the preceding chapter that of all living beings mankind alone is directly under the control of Divine Providence, I will now add the following remarks: It is an established fact that species have no existence except in our own minds. Species and other classes are merely ideas formed in our minds, whilst everything in real existence is an individual object, or an aggregate of individual objects. This being granted, it must further be admitted that the result of the existing Divine influence, that reaches mankind through the human intellect, is identical with individual intellects really in existence, with which, e.g., Zeiḍ, Amr, Kaled and Bekr, are endowed. Hence it follows, in accordance with what I have mentioned in the preceding chapter, that the greater the share is which a person has obtained of this Divine influence, on account of both his physical predisposition and his training, the greater must also be the effect of Divine Providence upon him, for the action of Divine Providence is proportional to the endowment of intellect, as has been mentioned above. The relation of Divine Providence is therefore not the same to all men; the greater the human perfection a person has attained, the greater the benefit he derives from Divine Providence."

I would think it's pretty open-and-shut. Not only isn't every event the product of Providence, but even if we limit ourselves to events that touch human lives.


micha said...

PS: IOW, in chapter 17 he says all people's lives are guided by Providence (which is still short of saying that other events are). However, in chapter 18 he says that individuals are more or less in the class of people in this regard.

I put an Iggeres of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe on this (my notes). He argues that universal Providence is an invention of the Besh"t's. The Vilna Gaon's students claim their side came up with it. Along the way, though, he does discuss the Rambam.


DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


I said that it wasn't correct to say there was no hashagacha pratis on the details of creation. I wouldn't say that's the same thing as saying it's kefira to say such a thing. There's a big difference between being wrong and being kefira, as Rav Aharon Soleveichik pointed out legabei the Meshichistin.

Actually I wrote this post not because I was bothered by the fact that the Rambam may have held something different from what is accepted by most today. But rather, when I mentioned the well-known shita of hashgacha klalis in the Rambam, with regard to the Mei Hashiloach I quoted above, he told me that it was clear tha the Rambam didn't disagree with the Baal Shem Tov and that they were talking about different things. And he pointed out several of the Rambams I quoted to me. That was actually the impetus. Ya learn something new every day, you know!

-Dixie Yid

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


I would never want to disagree with you about something but you state conclusorily that the things I quoted were "laws of nature that automatically result in retribution to sinners and reward to tzadikim." If the "philosophically learned" have forgotten how to read Rambams, then I understand what you're saying. But it doesn't say "automatic nature" or anything like it in the Rambam. Based on his words, he's saying that Hashem specifically punishes the wicked, gentiles, etc for their sins. Not that he sets up an automatic natureal sysetem of reward and punishment. If you have a specific raya for your reading, please bring it. But that reading is not mashma in the Rambam.

-Dixie Yid

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Rabbi Berger, I understand that it's an apparant contradiction. That's why I choose that title. It certainly gets the attention. The whole point of the resolution at the end were the respective ukimtas in Rambam and Baal Shem Tov to explain what *type* of Hashgacha each were referring to. This explanation has the advantage of explaining the Rambam in a way which does contradict himself in Hilchos Teshuva and does not contradict the Gemaras statements about specific hashgacha regarding animals.

As to RMMS, see also the Sicha I linked to above where he does resolve the Rambam and Baal Shem Tov and not disagreeing, but referring to different things.

BTW, I am honored that you read my blog today!

-Dixie Yid

thanbo said...

more places where the Rambam dismisses and ridicules the commonly-held theory of "every blade of grass":


Third Theory.--This theory is the reverse of the second. According to this theory, there is nothing in the whole Universe, neither a class nor an individual being, that is due to chance; everything is the result of will, intention, and rule. It is a matter of course that he who rules must know [that which is under his control]. The Mohammedan Ashariyah adhere to this theory, notwithstanding evident absurdities implied in it; for they admit that Aristotle is correct in assuming one and the same cause [viz., the wind] for the fall of leaves [from the tree] and for the death of a man [drowned in the sea]. But they hold at the same time that the wind did not blow by chance; it is God that caused it to move; it is not therefore the wind that caused the leaves to fall; each leaf falls according to the Divine decree; it is God who caused it to fall at a certain time and in a certain place; it could not have fallen before or after that time or in another place, as this has previously

p. 284

been decreed. The Ashariyah were therefore compelled to assume that motion and rest of living beings are predestined, and that it is not in the power of man to do a certain thing or to leave it undone. The theory further implies a denial of possibility in these things: they can only be either necessary or impossible. The followers of this theory accepted also the last-mentioned proposition, and say, that we call certain things possible, as e.g., the facts that Zeid stands, and that Amr is coming; but they are only possible for us, whilst in their relation to God they cannot be called possible; they are either necessary or impossible. It follows also from this theory, that precepts are perfectly useless, since the people to whom any law is given are unable to do anything: they can neither do what they are commanded nor abstain from what they are forbidden. The supporters of this theory hold that it was the will of God to send prophets, to command, to forbid, to promise, and to threaten, although we have no power [over our actions]. A duty would thus be imposed upon us which is impossible for us to carry out, and it is even possible that we may suffer punishment when obeying the command and receive reward when disobeying it. According to this theory, it must also be assumed that the actions of God have no final cause. All these absurdities are admitted by the Ashariyah for the purpose of saving this theory. When we see a person born blind or leprous, who could not have merited a punishment for previous sins, they say, It is the will of God; when a pious worshipper is tortured and slain, it is likewise the will of God; and no injustice can be asserted to Him for that, for according to their opinion it is proper that God should afflict the innocent and do good to the sinner. Their views on these matters are well known.

Interestingly, R' Aryeh Kaplan holds a mostly Maimonidean view of Divine Providence - that it's to species below human, and individually to humans depending on their level of righteousness, thus greater to Jews than to non-Jews. That's the chapter on Divine Providence, in Handbook of Jewish Thought vol 2. God only uses Individual Providence on non-humans insofar as they affect humans; thus, a snake that bites a human was directed to do so by God. And R' Kaplan was a Breslover.

I mean really Maimonidean, as opposed to your false attribution of the Ashariyah theory to him, which he himself rejected.

A Simple Jew said...

All these words just proves WHY you need write this next posting, Dixie Yid.

So many words, but at the end of the day, HOW do they affect the people writing them....

yitz said...

the title lead me to believe the outcome would be something similar to this post: over at mpaths

in which the Lubavitcher Rebbe comes along and says the BeSht and the Vilna Gaon DO disagree.

yitz said...

After having read the article, I have this limited bit to add: (note i didn't read ALL of the comments, only some)

1. the Gemara w/ Rabbi Shimon could be understood that the gzeira from Shamayim related to the bird being free from THAT MAN. (ie. the hashgacha was for the man, not the bird) Even though you might say the lashon implies otherwise, think of the Gemara explaining the passuk of Torah: "hofshi, ain kesef." and the Gemara: "ain kesef, l'adon zeh, aval yesh kesef l'adon acher." (i don't recall if this is verbatim) so the heavenly decree (by Rabbi Shimon) could have really implied: "hofshi, l'adon zeh, aval lo l'adon acher."

2. the Yerushalmi is also not a stira no matter how you read the Rambam, because HaSHem's mishpat in this context might be mean "HaShem's natural mechanism" that ensures that to each comes his due.

3. hilchot yesodei HaTorah makes it clear that HaShem is aware of everyting (no matter how small) in the world, so i think hashgachah has to be better defined for this discussion. It is important to make our understanding of the Rambam's system internally consistent before we even think to compare it to any other system. As long as Rambam's system is internally inconsistent to our understanding, we need to assume we don't know enough to determine the matter--- because if anything, the Rambam is thoroughly self-consistent.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...


Interestingly, in Hilchos Teshuva that I cited above, he also states that nothing happens except by Hashem's will. Yet in the section you quoted he faults those Arabic philosophers for the conclusion they reach, which is the injustice of the Divine and the absence of free-will.

However, the Rambam in the Yad affirms that everything happens through Hashem's will. Yet he also affirms the existance of free will. And the fact of Divine justice. How do these concepts co-exist with the Rambam's assertion that everything happens with Hashem's will? He says that this is something that we can't unerstand. But since he takes that approach, his view does not lead to the logical absurdities that he was criticizing that you quoted.

-Dixie Yid

P.S. IY"H, I'll respond to Yitz & ASJ later IY"H.

micha said...

RMMS obviously does not say that the Rambam and the Besh"t are of the same opinion, if he also said it's the Besh"t's chiddush.

He draws the distinction between hashgachah peratis (HP) and hashgachah minis (HM). To quote the maamar you linked to (which is a very elided translation of what I tried to point you to): "They maintain that G-d manifests His providence over every member of the Jewish people in a particular manner and over all animals and plants in a general manner." The LR specifically describes the rishonim as attributing events to HM, *not* HP.

He also points out that the rishonim require making a distinction between hashgachah, causing something to happen, and knowledge. Hashem can Know something is happening, He can even cause it to happen, and yet cause it to happen exactly the way nature should play out -- with no consideration of the people involved or greater plan.

HP is Hashem's involvement on an individual level to produce results that are chosen for Hashem's plan. That makes it broader than reward and punishment, since Hashem could delay one or the other for the person's sake. However, it doesn't include everything Hashem causes.

No setirah in the Rambam -- he is saying that all events are caused by G-d, all are at least the product of HM. Not all are HP.

By the way, a number of acharonim note that this implies that if you want HP, you should serve the community. That will cause more of the events in your life to have broad impact, and thus HM will require HP.


thanbo said...

Defining "Hashgacha Pratit":

Good thought.

It appears to me that Hasghacha Pratit must mean "causing someone or something to initiate a course of action", or in the case of inanimate objects, "cause to move". It seems, looking at his exposition of "Aristotle's theory", in III:17, that this is how Rambam uses it. In the case of the "spheres", since nature is unchanging, the "hashgacha" or "direction" is in causing the motion in the first place; once started, it continues unchanged.

He starts out his definition with "some things have hashgacha, and they are under the direction of the Director and in a certain order."

Hmm, although later, he says

Divine Providence is connected with Divine intellectual influence, and the same beings which are benefited by the latter so as to become intellectual, and to comprehend things comprehensible to rational beings, are also under the control of Divine Providence, which examines all their deeds in order to reward or punish them. It may be by mere chance that a ship goes down with all her contents, as in the above-mentioned instance, or the roof of a house falls upon those within; but it is not due to chance, according to our view, that in the one instance the men went into the ship, or remained in the house in the other instance: it is due to the will of God, and is in accordance with the justice of His judgments, the method of which our mind is incapable of understanding. I have been induced to accept this theory by the circumstance that I have not met in any of the prophetical books with a description of God's Providence otherwise than in relation to human beings.

And then in relation to the Paroh material, and the other examples he brings, of Sichon and Eliyahu and Israel, he concludes his sequence of examples with:

It transpires from this that it was not decreed upon him to harm Israel, or on Sihon to sin in his land, or on the Canaanites to commit acts of abomination, or on Israel to worship idols, but all of them sinned willingly, and were therefore liable to being denied repentance.

It seems I've been reading the Rambam wrong - that Paroh is an example (as a non-Jew) of no Divine providence. Rather, Rambam is using Paroh as an example of a human being to whom Individual Providence is applied, at least within his definition of Individual Providence (see below).

So for human beings, be they non-Jews or Jews (at least non-Jews whose actions affect Jews), there is no Divine impetus to begin a course of action, but once one has engaged on a course of action, like Paroh with "let us be crafty against them", they expose themselves to Divine Providence, expressed as reward and punishment. And they should then, I guess, if they are sensitive to such things, change the course of their actions (do teshuvah). But God reserves the right to apply "impeded teshuvah" as a punishment.

However, for Domem Tzomech and Chai (mineral, plant and animal objects), since there is no intellect on which punishment will help shape a course of action, there is no Divine direction at all.

The theory rejected by Rambam as the Ashariyah theory would then be one of direct Divine causation of all action, which appears to be the theory of the Derech Hashem and other such Kabbalah-influenced works.

So HP would seem to be two different things: for non-humans, by necessity, direct causation, which Rambam rejects. For humans, it's direction by means of punishments in this world, which can influence a course of action, but since humans have free will, by definition any course of action must be initiated by the human, without Divine intervention. Once engaged upon a course of action, then Divine providence kicks in.

But for the Ashariyah, and certain kinds of Protestants, everything is predestined. That is, everything is Known and that Knowledge necessitates that humans will take certain actions.

And for Derech Hashem, free will is given to act under various tests, but the tests are given by God, rather than being just random situations in life. If one is generally more righteous, more help will be given to him, not necessarily related to the course of action which generated his righteousness - IOW, just because you're good or bad in general, God will give you more or less guidance. Where for Rambam, apparently, the amount of guidance depends on what one chose to do at the outset of this course of action.

Derech Hashem concludes its discussion of Individual providence by noting that things that happen to a person may be Guided or may be accidental. For Rambam, his example of a boat going down shows that he thinks that all things that happen are accidental. If he holds that courses of action are initiated by free will, this seems a necessary prerequisite - that things which might initiate a course of action not be directly caused by God, otherwise, the course of action itself is caused by God. But since "guidance" is a result of courses of action already initiated, it is necessary that the presence of a person on the ship is a result of Individual Providence.

Derech Hashem's last sentence on this: "The Highest Wisdom, however, determines what should befall each individual, and in the same manner determines the means by which this should come about; everything is ultimately decreed with the utmost precision, according to what is truly best.

Derech Hashem seems to reject Chazal's "all is foreseen but permission is given" by denying the "permission" clause. Rambam's position doesn't seem to directly address it, but it would seem that a possible solution is this: that while God can intervene, in most cases he does not intervene. So while the Intellect Knows what will happen (God being outside of spacetime, so all times are the same for Him), there is no intervention or direct causation, because of the guarantee of free will. Once the human will has acted, though, Divine judgment becomes active, and then God does intervene, by imposing punishments.

Think of it as a rat in a maze - the initial choice of "right" or "left" is its own will, but after that, consequences multiply, and the rat gets more or less shocks on the more-or-less correct paths. Eventually, the rat learns what the correct way to behave is.

Anonymous said...

These days it seems that the people I know that are afraid to say that Hashem controls every minute detail are the ones that treat Yidishkeit as a burden.

A Simple Jew said...

Anonymous: YOU just hit the nail on the head.

Izbitza said...

ספר מי השילוח - פרשת במדבר
וידבר ה' אל משה במדבר סיני באהל מועד באחד לחודש השני בשנה השנית לצאתם מארץ מצרים לאמור שאו את כל ראש עדת בני ישראל. שאו הוא לשון התנשאות היינו שע"י המנין יהי' מדוגל, כמ"ש והיה מספר בני ישראל כחול הים אשר לא ימוד ולא יספר. והפסוק הזה נראה כסותר. כי בתחילה כתוב והי' מספר משמע שיוכל להספר ואח"כ כתוב אשר לא ימוד כו'. אך באמת כלל ישראל הם בלא מספר. ומ"ש והי' מספר נאמר על פרטי נפשות מישראל שיהי' כל אחד מספר היינו דבר שבמנין ויהי' חשוב בעיני הש"י וכמ"ש ה' יספור בכתוב עמים. ולציון יאמר איש ואיש יולד בה. ה' יספור בכתוב עמים היינו כי על האומות ג"כ משגיח הקב"ה אך לא על כל נפש בפרט רק על כולם בכלל לקיום המין. ולציון יאמר איש ואיש יולד בה היינו שמשגיח הקב"ה על כל נפש בפרט. וזה פי' והיה מספר שכל אחד יהי' נצרך כי מתוך כלל ישראל ניכר גדולות הש"י ובאם נחסר אחד מכלל ישראל אז יחסר המזג. כמו שמציירין צורת המלך על כמה אלפים טבלאות ואם יאבד אחד מהם. צורת המלך חסרה. ובעת שהי' נמנה כל אחד מישראל אז הוא הגדול שבכל ישראל כי כל ישראל הם חלק הש"י. כמ"ש כי חלק ה' עמו. וכל אחד ואחד הוא אחוז במדה אחת ממדותיו של הקב"ה ובעת שהי' נמנה אז היה הש"י בזאת המדה שהוא אחוז בה וממילא הוא היה הגדול. ועי"ז יש לכל אחד מישראל התנשאות:

the afformentioned mei hashiloach

Anonymous said...

Most of the sources quoted in this discussion can be found in:

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

R. Boshnack:

Thanks! The line I was going on was "על האומות ג"כ משגיח הקב"ה אך לא על כל נפש בפרט רק על כולם בכלל לקיום המין." The Izbitzer states the Rambam's opinion stam, which is mashama to me that he doesn't hold there's a stira.

-Dixie Yid

micha said...

Again, there is no setirah.

The Rambam says there is universal hashgachah. Everything happens by the Will of G-d.

For nearly everything, that's hashgachah minis, on the species level. IOW, it is the will of G-d that when you drop an object (assuming you aren't in space) it will fall to the ground. It is the will of G-d that there be lions, and that they have enough food to eat.

Hashgachah minis includes both protecting the species and the laws of nature. In fact, the Rambam distinguishes between Arisostle, who believed that all of nature is the Will of G-d, and Epicurus (the source of the word "apiqoreis" is "epicurian"), who believed that much was simply happenstance.

However, hashgacha peratis is only to the extent that the homo sapien knows G-d. Those who do not know G-d aren't fully in the species of "person" and therefore their fate doesn't get individual attention.


DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

R' Berger:

Thanks for responding. He's the resolution, to understanding the Rambam and other Rishonim who stated there's HP only on humans in general, limited HP on some humans, and no HP, only HK or HM on tzomeich, chai and domem. This is different (though not conflicting) with the two resolutions I brought in the main post.

General Principal: Rishonim & earlier Acharonim almost always spoke about the level which human beings can have *some* understanding of, and not necessarily what exists as true reality. However, they did address those things which we have no understanding of.

Application: They denied hashagacha pratis on every detail of creation when speaking on a level that people can understand. That is because hashgacha on leaves falling or animals dying is something that we can have no understanding of. For example, we may be able to have *some* understanding of why one person dies and why another person lives. We can hear the concept that, for example, that because of something from a previous gilgul, this person had to die, while that person, for another reason, had to live. However, we have no context in which to put why Hashem causes one animal to live but another to die at a particular time. Al achas kama v'kama with regard to tzomeich and domem. Since HP on these things is beyond the capacity of human beings to even partially understand, they denied its existance in their writings because they were only speaking about the level about which people can understand.

However, the Baal Shem Tov, who came much later, and those subsequent to him blazed a new derech in teaching. Which was to speak about what exists in reality, even even about those concepts that people can have no real hasaga of, like HP on chai, tzomeiach and domem.

This would explain why the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt"l, stated that the Baal Shem Tov was a Chiddush. He was indeed a huge chidush in that he began expressing true reality, while earlier Rishonim and Acharonim had b'shita, only addressed asepcts of reality which people could have *some* understanding of. This would also show why he was not contradicting himself when he distinguished between the Rambam and the Baal Shem Tov's opinion to show why they were not contradictory. If you were correct about the LR's opinion, then his statemetns that the Besht was a chidush and his statement that he was *not* in conflict with the Rambam would have been self contradictory in the same Sicha.

When comenting on the Rambam's statement that *everything* happens with Hashem's will You have really said all that I am trying to say as well because pointed out that whether it's HP or HM/HK, everything *does* happen through Hashem's will. Why? Because Hashem "knows" everything and if he created HP or HM or HK, He created the whole world and every individual plant, animal, rock and person knowing where in that "automatic system" he would put them, and thus created them lechatchila knowing every detail that would happen to them through the system. Thus he decreed that all of these details happen to them, and that could indeed be what he means when he says that *everything* happens with Hashem's will. Thus whether Hashem decreed each detail of creation to take place via HP, or HM/HK, it's really only a minor semantic difference in reality since in either case, every detail is decreed about everything that happens in the Briah.

Thus there really is no machlokes between the Rambam & the Baal Shem Tov. The Rambam, with all of his strongly worded denials of the "every leaf" theory and its applications by Mohammedan Ashariyah was speaking about a certain level of reality. i.e. that level of reality which we can have some hasaga of.

Besides all of this, it's a logical imposibility for hashgacha pratis over every detail not to be true. Hashem is infinite. If Hashem were to *literally* not control at all certain aspects in the universe, then his Presence would be absent from that "place" in creation. (And if He controls every specific detail "directly" through HP or "indirectly" through HK/HM, his control is still there.) Therefore, Hashem's infinite nature precludes the absence of HP over every detail in actual reality.

Also, Chazal say "oseh b'chol yom ma'aseh breishis." If the universe could exist independently on any level, Hashem wouldn't need to recreate the world at every moment. Since Hashem is infinite, there can be no independent existance to any part of creation and therefore it can only continue to exist because Hashem continues to will it to exist at every moment, thus recreating every detail of creation at every moment. Therefore, his contorl over all of creation exists at eveyr moment since He is constantly recreating it in its present state at all times. It is seen from this that He is recreating everything in the way that He wants it at all times. While a skeptic might ta'anah that He only re-creates it in the way that it would exist according to a natural system that He set up "earlier," this would only beg the question. Since he knows the system lechatchila, choose what to create when, and recreates the system at every moment, He's essentially decreeing every detail at every moment, regardless of the means (HP or HM/HK).

Gut Shabbos!

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

R' Berger,

Wow, we were writing at the same time.

I think we're sounding similar than I thought before. If you agree that the Rambam and the Derech HaBaal Shem Tov are not a stira, then I think we may only be talking about different ways to get to that point.

-Dixie Yid

micha said...

There is definitely a machloqes between them. What I denied was your claim that the Rambam was soseir himself. The Rambam descrives hashagachah that isn't peratis, a middle ground you didn't discuss in your original post.

The Rambam says that everything is hashgachah, but except for a select few human beings, that hashgachah is on the species or cosmic level.

The Besh"t says that everything is not only hashgachah, but hashgachah peratis. Even the path taken by the falling of a leaf in a forest that never touches upon any of those people's lives.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

R' Berger:

Oh. Then I partially misunderstood you and you partially understood me. When you said there was no stira, commenting on my post about the Izbitzer, I meant that the Izbitzer held there was no stira between his own opininon (The Baal Shem Tov's) and the Rambam.

But please see the other points in my last post as to why/how there is no/cannot be any stira between the reality that the Baal Shem Tov was describing and the aspects that the Rambam & others were addressing.

-Dixie Yid

micha said...

I saw it, and you're wrong.

You conflate "not talk about" with "talk about and says does not exist.

You describe the Besh"t as agreeing with the Rambam where RMMS says the Besh"t's position is a chidush, and Rav Tzadoq actually says that HQBH changed how He runs the universe when the dominant belied in the Torah-following community shifted from that of the rishonim to the universal HP of the Gra and the Besh"t.

There was a shift in belief. It's generally acknowldged as such not just by academics but by gedolei hammesorah as well.

And you're still conflating knowledge and enablement with hashgachah.

Non-universal HP was the position of all the rishonim. They debated whether it affects all humans or only some, but WRT domeim, tzomei'ach and chai, there was a universal "no". Until the 18th cent CE.

BTW, the greatest argument I could think of for universal HP is chaos theory. A butterfly flapping its wings in Africa could make or break the emergence of a tornado in the US, impacting not only those hit, but those who listen to the news, those who didn't hear of a story because it was forced off the newspaper, etc... There I can not picture an event that doesn't eventually touch an HP-worthy person's life.


PS: I would undertand you better if you used setirah to mean contradiction, and not use it for every machloqes. The Rambam can be soseir himself, but he can only be choleiq, not soseir, Rav Saadia Gaon.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

R' Berger:

On the contrary, I have not conflated "not talking about" with "stating that it does not exist." I made that clear by using the words "denies" a couple of times.

The reason why the Rambam, or anyone else for that matter, will use terms indicating absolute denial are that he is absolutely denying that opinion *on the level of reality about which he is dealing.* Since he only dealt with a level of reality that can be perceived by the human intellect on some level, he was propperly denying the existance of HP over tzomeiach, chai and domem *on that level*.

Also, there is no conflation of knowledge and enablement since we're primarily talking about beings/things with no bechira chofshis. You would have a point with human beings, since there is bechira and then we get into that whole issue again with the non-understandable paradox the Rambam discusses. But in the case of plants, animals, and inanimate objects, Hashem's creation of them knowing exactly what would happen to them in the system is the same as decreeing it, since there's no free will involved.

As to your points about the Rishonim in general, see again the explanation I brought as to the change in *approach* to the level at which the teaching/seforim of these greats shifted, (from the level at which humans can perceive to the level of reality) as you pointed out that occured, at the time of the GRA and the Baal Shem Tov.

As to your suggestion regarding terminology, for most people the terminology that there is a "stira between two people's opinions" is an understandable expression. But to the extent that it would facilitate communication in this type of discussion, I'll be happy to adapt the terminology.

-Dixie Yid

micha said...

1- Who said the Rambam is only talking about a particular level of reality? This is the same book in which he proves the existence of G-d.

He says that there isn't hashgachah peratis on most of reality. That's an absolute statement about things that have no free will. He doesn't say "there is HP for people", he (and every other rishon) actively denies HP for non-people.

2- The Rambam denies that all human beings are equally in the class of medaberim (if we're to coerce his words into that language). Someone who uses his bechirah not to know G-d gets no HP.

This is in direct and absolute contradiction to the Besh"t. It's a machloqes.

3- Your argument that HQBH causes the existence of every event is in favor of hashgachah, not hashgachah peratis.

4- When speaking of a setirah and a machloqes, if you call both "the setirah" there will inevitable confusion.

And while speaking of a setirah between two people's opinions may be understandable, it's an abuse of the word. So, it seems the logical way to be more specific about which you mean is to call the Rambam vs the Besh"t a machloqes, whereas the Rambam's denial of universal HP vs his acceptance of universal hashgahchah to be a non-setirah.


Anonymous said...

Question for R' Berger: Par'oh did not know Hashem, so how did the hashagacha pratit apply to him, as mentioned in Hilchot Teshuvah with regard to specific intervention preventing him from Teshuvah?

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

R' Berger:

1. The one who said it is someone bigger than both of us.

2. It's only a direct and absolute machlokes if one assumes they are both discussing the same plane of reality/perception.

3. Since Hashem recreates and knows the specific way whatever type of Hashgacha will apply to every aspect of creation, even non-people, when he recreates that reality at every moment, he is recreating the specific events that happen to each thing as well. So while some things may fall under the term of art, "hashgacha klalis" on a certain level, this does not take away from the fact that Hashem did decree that particular detail, albeit by the apparant means of hashgacha klalis/minis.

4. Like I said, technical terms are not always used in their technical sense in the language of man and in general conversation that will due. But like I also said, for the purpose of facilitating our conversation, I will use the terms as you have indicated (as I did earlier in this comment).

Regardless of our agreement or disagreement about this issue or whether you personally feel I'm totally wrong (or vice versa), it is a pleasure having this conversation with you and I hope you have a good Shabbos!

-Dixie Yid

micha said...

1- I have pronoun trouble again. "The person who said it was bigger than both of us." Said what?

The notion that the Rambam and Besh"t disagree is in the very essay of the LR's that you are citing.

2- The Rambam doesn't limit his domain of conversation.

This is an invention of yours without basis.

3- This bit about recreating is an argument for hashgachah in general, not hashgachah peratis in particular.

Since nature is the Will of G-d, natural events are also hashgachah. As I wrote earlier on the Rambam's distinction between Epicurian randomness and Aristotelian idea that nature is an expression of Divine Knowledge.

The Rambam's definition of hashgachah kelalis includes nature (because he agrees with Aristo). It being universal doesn't reduce the role of nature just running its course.

4- You're discussing a subtle subject with precise nuances. If you aren't precise in language, miscommunication is inevitable.

One of the key misunderstandings is that you're using hashgachah and hashgachah peratis interchangably, and therefore saw a paradox in the Rambam's embracing universal hashgachah but not universal HP.

Anonymous said...

Another question for R' Berger: You claim that according to Rambam, individual hashgacha is only for a select few humans. Why does the Rambam write in hilchot ta'anit that we must not say the negative events affecting us are "mikreh," but we must search our ways. Why can't they just assume that they are not part of the select few who benefit from personal attention?

micha said...

It's not what I claim. It's open and shut Moreh Nevucim II:18. You quote it right before you say "but this cannot be true". Those words were where you started making the Rambam say something differently from what you already quoted verbatum as him already saying.

The Rambam is saying that when you live through an event capable of shaking someone out of their rut, they are obligated to utilize it for teshuvah. That's different than finding cause.

Last, Par'oh's fate was hashgachah minis. First, as his office meant it determined the fate of the nation. Second, because history needed this explicit lesson of actions and consequences.


DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

R' Berger:

1. You asked in #1 above, "Who said the Rambam was talking about a particular level of reality?" That's what I was answering.

Good Shabbos!

-Dixie Yid

Anonymous said...

Thank you for responding.

1) I found this in the Moreh 3:18:
יתחייב, לפי מה שזכרתיו בפרק הקודם, כי אי זה איש מאישי בני אדם שהשיג מן השפע ההוא חלק יותר גדול, כפי הכנת החומר שלו וכפי התלמדו, תהיה ההשגחה עליו יותר בהכרח, אם ההשגחה נמשכת אחר השכל, כמו שזכרתי; ולא תהיה אם כן, ההשגחה האלוהית בבני אדם כולם בשוה, אבל יהיה יתרון ההשגחה עליהם כיתרון שלמותם האנושי זה על זה

I think he's saying that each person benefits according to his/her level, with the greater people enjoying a commensurate high degree of hashgacha, and the wicked basically having none. Where does he say that only a few people have it? It seems to be a continuum, depending on the person's level.

2) In hilchot ta'anit, he says:
ידעו הכל שבגלל מעשיהם הרעים הורע להן ככתוב (ירמיהו ה') עונותיכם הטו וגו

Sounds like finding cause. I also can't understand why an event should be utilized for teshuva if it did not come as a decree. And how do you explain the faulty view of :
אבל אם לא יזעקו ולא יריעו אלא יאמרו דבר זה ממנהג העולם אירע לנו וצרה זו נקרה נקרית הרי זו דרך אכזריות וגורמת להם להדבק במעשיהם הרעים ותוסיף הצרה צרות אחרו

3) In hilchot teshuva, he says:
לפי שחטא מעצמו תחלה והרע לישראל הגרים בארצו שנאמר הבה נתחכמה לו נתן הדין למנוע התשובה ממנו עד שנפרע ממנו לפיכך חזק הקב"ה את לבו

Your answer, while very intelligent, does not seem to agree with these words. I don't have an answer, because I would agree based on the Moreh that Paroh should not have hashgacha, but I would rather have a kushia than an insufficient answer.

micha said...

I believe my answer is Rambam's intent. The difference between writing something in the Moreh or Yesodei haTorah and writing it in Hilchos Teshuvah.

However, if you prefer... Realize that if HP is earned, then being subject to something other than HP is a sign that teshuvah is needed. And so, if someone faces tragedy, they are either being punished, or even worse (but perhaps more common), they are so off-the-track that they don't warrant HP. In either case - checking his actions would make sense.

Dixie Yid: You wrote (@11:46am) "It's only a direct and absolute machlokes if one assumes they are both discussing the same plane of reality/perception."

I would say the reverse. Given that the Rambam was no existentialist, one can assume that he was speaking about what he believed was actually "out there". Not limiting himself to a particular plane of reality or perception.

By putting post-Kantian ideas into the Rambam's mouth, you are changing what he said to the point of actually disagreeing with the words he put on paper.


Anonymous said...

You have given a possible answer for hilchot ta'anit, but not the Moreh or hilchot teshuvah.

In the moreh, Rambam adds:
אמנם הסכלים הממרים, כפי מה שחסרו מן השפע ההוא, היה ענינם נבזה וסודרו בסדר שאר אישי מיני בעלי החיים, "נמשל כבהמות נדמו"; ומפני זה היה קל להרגם, אבל צווה בו לתועלת. וזה הענין הוא פינה מפינות התורה ועליו בנינה - רצוני לומר, על שההשגחה באיש איש מבני אדם כפי מה שהוא

Besides the term איש איש,we see that each person benefits from the flow of hashgachah according to his/her level, and that one who is not on the level on any hashgacha can be killed (see Kapach's note 4, clearly understood to refer to people). Most people have not lost the right to live. Also, Rambam says explicitly in the Moreh there that tzaddikim have hashgachah pratit, and reshaim do not. There is no comment about beinonim, so we must work with those two categories, and decide who goes where. Based on the comment about killing them, the term rasha here would seem to refer to the smaller group. In addition, for each individual, there is an admonition of אל תהי רשע בפני עצמך.

Even the answer about hilchot ta'anit, while better, does not explain:
כשאביא עליכם צרה כדי שתשובו

It sounds very intentional, not just the result of a condition.

micha said...

WADR, your very quote of the Rambam speaks of the loss of shefa as punishment. He is explicitly saying that being stuck with hashgachah kelalis (nature) is itself the onesh.

In hilkhos ta'anis he is discussing hashgachah minis -- Hashem's hashgachah over the Jewish people in general. Note the plural language.

It is far more credible to say the Rambam is speaking of different phenomena than saying it's all one thing and he implicitly is making distinctions no Aristotilian, no one pre-Kant, or maybe before Berkley, would ever consider. One requires paying close attention to language, the other requires inserting ideas that aren't there -- and that no one else will discuss for centuries. Ideas that reverse the plain meaning of many of his words.

I have been tenaceous in my argument against Dixie Yid's original post because I am extremely unhappy with this habit of fitting rishonim to what we want them to say. We do it for "frum" reasons, academics do it for their reasons, but both are engaging in the same intellectual dishonesty.


Anonymous said...

Your distinction between yachid and tzibbur must take this quote into account, from halacha 9:

כשם שהצבור מתענים על צרתן כך היחיד מתענה על צרתו כיצד הרי שהיה לו חולה או תועה במדבר או אסור בבית האסורין יש לו להתענות עליו ולבקש רחמים בתפלתו

Here is another source where we see hashgacha pratit on regular individuals (hilchot berachot ch. 10):
הנכנס לכרך אומר יהי רצון מלפניך יי' אלהי שתכניסני לכרך זה לשלום ואם נכנס בשלום אומר מודה אני לפניך יי' אלהי שהכנסתני לשלום וכשיבקש לצאת אומר יהי רצון מלפניך יי' אלהי שתוציאני מכרך זה לשלום ואם יצא בשלום אומר מודה אני לפניך יי' אלהי שהוצאתני מכרך זה לשלום וכשם שהוצאתני לשלום כך תוליכני לשלום ותצעידני לשלום ותסמכני לשלום ותצילני מכף אויב ואורב בדרך:
כללו של דבר לעולם יצעק אדם על העתיד לבא ויבקש רחמים ויתן הודיה על מה שעבר ויודה וישבח כפי כחו וכל המרבה להודות את יי' ולשבחו תמיד הרי זה משובח

And here is where Rambam elsewhere in the Moreh accepts hashgacha pratit, in case you try to make a chiluk between Moreh and Yad (3:36):

וכן המצוה אשר צונו לצעוק אליו ית' בעת צרה - רצוני לומר, אמרו, "והרעותם בחצוצרות" - היא מזה הכלל, מפני שהיא פעולה שיתחזק בה הדעת האמיתי, והוא שהאלוה ית' משיג ענינינו, ובידו לתקנם - אם נעבדהו, ולהפסידם אם נמרהו; לא שנאמין שזה מקרה ודבר שארע - וזהו ענין אמרו, "ואם תלכו עמי קרי" - רצונו לומר, שאני כשאביא לכם אלו הצרות לענוש אתכם, אם תחשבו בהם שהם מקרה, אוסיף לכם מן המקרה ההוא (כפי מחשבתכם) יותר חזק ויותר קשה - והוא ענין אמרו, "והלכתם עמי בקרי - והלכתי עמכם בחמת קרי". כי האמינם שהוא במקרה - ממה שמחיב התמדתם על דעותם הרעות ועל מעשי העול, ולא ישובו מהם - כמו שאמר, הכיתה אותם ולא חלו". ולכן צונו להתפלל אליו ולהתחנן לו ולצעוק לפניו בעת צרה:

You have not answered the comment about such people being killed. I know that Rambam mentions the concept of being abandoned to nature, but it seems that you are expanding it further than Rambam's intent. As I said before, Rambam is only excluding a small group of resha'im from hashgacha, not everyone but a select few. This is how Rav Dessler understood it as well in Michtav Me'Eliyahu 5:309, that each Jew has hashgacha in his own merit to the extent that he is lishma (and each Jew has some lishma, he says)and in the merit of the tzaddik, to the extent that he does not serve Hashem properly. Rav Carmel there likewise explains the Moreh 3:18 to exclude from hashgacha only reshaim gemurim. Rav Friedlander in Sifte Haim likewise says this, again drawing the ditinction between earning in one's own merit, or in the merit of another. This is consistent with Rambam's hakdamah to mishnah. Rav Shilat as well explains that the tenth of the ikkarim is hashgacha pratit on Klal Yisrael. Rav Yonatan Blass in Minofet Suf is very emphatic on this point also. So there are all these great scholars who do affirm hashgacha pratit on each Jew, but it depends on one's level.

The ones excluded are those who can be killed due to their sinfulness. This definition of tzaddik and rasha seems to be as stated in hilchot teshuva:
כל ישראל יש להם חלק לעולם הבא אף על פי שחטאו שנאמר ועמך כולם צדיקים לעולם יירשו ארץ ארץ זו משל כלומר ארץ החיים והוא העולם הבא וכן חסידי אומות העולם יש להם חלק לעולם הבא

ו) ואלו הן שאין להן חלק לעולם הבא אלא נכרתים ואובדין ונידונין על גודל רשעם וחטאתם לעולם ולעולמי
עולמים המינים והאפיקורוסין והכופרים

In other words, every believing Jew is to an extent a tzaddik, and therefore, deserving of a certain degree of hashgacha (in his own merit). Only the kofrim, who may be killed, are totally excluded, as in this halacha:

המוסרים והאפיקורסין מישראל היה דין לאבדן ביד ולהורידן עד באר שחת מפני שהיו מצירים לישראל ומסירין את העם מאחרי ה

As Rambam writes at the end of the ikarim, these people have left klal Yisrael.

About the Par'oh, the answer seems simple, and for that, we must revisit the meaning of hashgacha. I consulted with a scholar on this question, and he showed me that Rambam in his lashon uses the word ענאיה, which, according to Blau, in Rambam's own usage, means "favoritism" or משוא פנים.

The meaning, then, is that Hashem will for a big tzaddik, show favor by miracles, and for the little people, he will show favor by working within nature. Only a kofer has no special treatment beyond that of an animal. Par'oh deserved no favoritism, of course, but that does not prevent Hashem from punishing him in any way He chooses.

I am not referring to a single phenomenon, as you accuse. To the contrary, I am concerned with your pass/fail defintion of the whole issue, instead of allowing, as the sources quoted above do, for changes in gradation.

As Rav Carmel writes in the footnote on page 310, there are different aspects of hashgacha. One is to deal with each person כפרי מעלליו, as in the verse in ירמיהו, and the other is about being above teva.

Please note that I am not defending Dixie Yid's chiddush, but a much more serious issue. You yourself wrote that there is a machloket about the extent of hashgacha on people, so this has nothing to do with Kant or Berekeley: "Non-universal HP was the position of all the rishonim. They debated whether it affects all humans or only some."

Anonymous said...

For those of you who don't believe HKB"H is involved in our lives, it is okay for us to say nowadays, "koichi veoitzem yadi..?"

Anonymous said...

Your answer about this only applying to the entire Jewish people, because of the plural language, is incorrect, not only because of halacha tet, but also because the tzibur there is not only the entire nation. See perek bet, halacha bet. This is clear to anyone who has learned masechet ta'anit. There is no reason why a single community should be included in hashgacha minit, which only serves an entire species.

Neil Harris said...

Silly me for waiting until Shabbos night to read the print out of this post. It seems like much has been said, but Dixie Yid's question at the end is still open ended.

Uh..."Nice post".


Anonymous said...

The Ramban, it appears agrees with the Rambam that Hashgacha clalis applies to non-humans and HP applies to humans based on their level of tzidkus. See: Ramban al haTorah parshas VaYeira 18:19

micha said...

With the caveat that they have very different definitions of life's goal, I would agree with the anonymous comment immediately before this one.


Anonymous said...

The Ramban in Iyov (around ch. 36) says he based his ideas on the Rambam. Rav Aryeh Carmell in Michtav MeEiyahu 5:310 uses that to prove that Ramban, like the Rambam, does not totally exclude from hashgacha anyone who is not a total rasha, however, everyone else only benefits to the extent of his tzidkut, as you said. As to the definition of hashgacha klalit, see Siftei Chaim Emunah VeHashgacha vol. 1, first section, where he says that it means that one does not have his own merit, but is provided for in the merit of a true tzaddik. That gives new meaning to hashgacha klalit on people. For more clarity on the topic, see sha'ar habitachon in Sefer HaMaspik (by Rambam's son), where it is clear that while Hashem determines whether or not we succeed, our level of hishtadlut needed depends on our level of tzidkut. He says that to deny Hashem's involvement in your life is no less than kefira.

Anonymous said...

Chovos HaLevavos, shaar habitachon is very relevant to this whole theme. He says in the first perek that one who ignores HKB"H will in fact be left to the conditions of teva. Bitachon actually brings HKB"H into your life. See today's post above.

micha said...

I offered three possible explanations:

1- That losing HP is itself the punishment, which the Rambam explicitly says.

2- That a community is hashgachah minis.

3- That taking a lesson from something isn't the same as asserting it is definitely the cause. (Admittedly this doesn't work for the language in Hil' Taanis, it works elsewhere).

Any of them are more palatable than turning the Rambam's words around 180 degrees and making him say something the LR says wasn't stated until the 18th century.

As for whether both answers are really different models of the same thing. Certainly. That's the Maharal's definition of machloqes. But it doesn't mean that pragmatically they lead to the same lifestyle. The whole bitachon vs hishtadlus model of R' Dessler presumes that bitachon causes HP. Not quite the same as the Rambam. But there you see behavioral differences due to belief that HP isn't universal.

How many people would buy into the Rambam's conclusion that someone who is mentally retarded, and therefore less capable of knowing G-d has a lesser soul? And should he work only on the plane of hishtadlus, since his hope for HP is minimal?


micha said...

Yes, only reshaim gemurim are excluded from HP. The rest of us get less HP than tzadiqim. At least according to the Rambam, that knowledge of G-d is the mechanism for HP and thus the two are proportional, or REED's model in which it is proportional to bitachon. Not in or out as an all-or-none, but how much.


Anonymous said...

I just noticed your belated response. I don't know if you are aware that you contradicted yourself between the last and the second-to-last posts. At 9:21, you repeated your three answers, each of which were already disproven. In the final post, three minutes later, you finally agreed with my earlier posts, that hashgacha is proportional. Had you felt that way at 9:21, you would not need such tortuous arguments for hilchot taanit. The tzibbur certainly has some acceptance of Hashem, so they are deserving of a degree of hashgacha and punishment for sins. Had they been nonbelievers, they would not be following the Rambam's advice.

To get back to the 9:21 post:

Answer 1)Logically flawed. If the punishment is losing hashgacha, then they had hashgacha prior to the punishment, which is exactly what you denied earlier.

Answer 2)Incorrect- You are choosing to ignore halacha tet, which expicitly applies this also to an individual. It is quoted above.

Answer 3)Absurd- As you begrudgingly hint, it has nothing to do with the Rambam there.

Your comment about the LR is mixing up two issues. We are not debating the Baal Shem Tov's idea of animals and leaves, but people. To say that Hashem relates to people is a cornerstone of Judaism. Study the tenth of the Rambam's Ikkarim.

Rav Dessler, contrary to your opinion, claims to be explaining the Rambam, not arguing. See also Rav Carmell's note, discussed above.

You have ignored many of the other comments, such as Paroh's punishment, which you failed to explain in a way related to the words of the text.

You ignored the real meaning of ענאיה in the Rambam.

You seem to feel that because someone suggests a new idea, everyone until then held the opposite. This is incorrect.

In any case, you already changed your view in the final post.

micha said...

In the 2nd to last post, I gave three different possibilities. I do not know how the last post could contradict any position I took in that one, since that post doesn't spell out a position -- it spells out options.

No one is saying that the Rambam denies HP altogether. The question is how he reaches the point that it's proportional to your knowledge of G-d. The explicit statement of Moreh III:18. I suggested that the punishment for not knowing G-d could be the loss of HP, in which case one could be both subject to sechar va'onesh and not to HP.

Halakhah 9 applies to

Your position in the Rambam takes the opposite approach to the actual words of the Rambam. YOur using of "choosing to ignore" or "logically flawed" or pointing out that I didn't take the time to address all of your points doesn't strengthen your argument. If the Rambam says that HP isn't for all people, then he means it isn't for all people.

If you feel there is a setirah, then you can't resolve it by simply reinterpreting his words away. If you don't like my possibilities, find your own. I am not debating you on any point other than this need to reinterpret the Rambam to hold something different than what he says in III:18. III:17-18 is where he addresses HP, and implications drawn from elsewhere can't be used to rewrite his explicit "position paper" on the topic.

The academics do it to Maimonides in one direction, and the frum to the Rambam in the other, and no one just takes what he says unbiased.

I believe that the Rambam held differently than the Besh"t because his words say so. They aren't "opposites", because that would be the Rambam denying HP (as we think of the term) altogether -- perhaps like the Ralbag who reduces HP to helping people know things.

But don't turn the Rambam around 180 deg.


Anonymous said...

I entered this discussion because of your statement on June 20 that "The Rambam says that everything is hashgachah, but except for a select few human beings, that hashgachah is on the species or cosmic level." I was trying to get you to the point where you would admit, as you finally did on the 29th at 9:24 that "Yes, only reshaim gemurim are excluded from HP. The rest of us get less HP than tzadiqim." It seems like a change, but perhaps, you were unclear in the earlier post. My questions were due to what seemed to be your position on the 20th.

Beyond that, I mentioned that there are gedolei Yisrael who interpret the Rambam to make hashgacha more inclusive. I mentioned Rav Dessler and Rav Friedlander. I will add Rav Gershon Henoch of Radzin, the author of Sidrei Taharot, in Sha'ar HaEmunah.

Are you saying that these gedolim could not understand Rambam as well as you, or that they were intellectually dishonest? You may have your own pshat, but you have heaped scorn upon anyone who would learn that Rambam differently than you. Are these gedolim to be denied the right to even have a valid opinion?

Shmuel Y said...

Great post!! People can't handle paradoxes, and they want to put God in a box. Yichud Hashem/Our pluralistic existence, yediah/bechirah, hanhagas hayichud/hanhagas hamishpat, bad things/good things, chukei hatevah/hashgachah pratus etc.. are paradoxes... our minds can't understand paradoxes, they can hold them. It's kind of like feelings in that respect. In any case, people want to write up their explanation of how God handles things and publish it, and put it in their pocket and feel proud that they "get it." If you understood Hashem, you would be Hashem.
See, I just did it! Look how proud I am of understanding that understanding Hashem is about how not to understand Him... In any case, it's pashut that the Rambam held the way you say. Emunas Chachamim is key. Thanks!