Parshat Balak, Hashgacha Pratis (Divine Providence) and Isbitza Chassidim


The Shabbos that just past was the Parshat of Balak. You can read it a summery here.   After services (davening), kiddush lunch and a short rest a home, I took my daughter to the park. While I was watching her play in the sand and dirt, I was reading a book of  commentaries on the Torah by a Chassidic Rebbe, The Mei Hashiloach, Rabbi Mordechai Yosef of Isbitza, ZT”L.

Of the nine or so commentaries that I read about various passages in Balak, one commentary stood out to me. 

” Divination (Hebrew, nachash) is stubbornly holding on to something without letting that thing go out of one’s mind. Magic (Hebrew, qesem) is the opposite, that is, when one equivocates over something whether to do it or not, waiting and seeing if it turns out well, then doing it and if doesn’t , then not doing it. This is magic, or waiting to see how something will act on its own accord.  Both (divination and magic)  are forbidden when not used in their proper place.”

What this means, according Isbitza philosophy (and I’m sure many other Chassidic philosophies), is that when one can see G-d’s will with the utmost clarity it is forbidden to remain silent and let things happen on their own. One must, as Mordechai Yosef says, must have the strength of a lion and use that strength in action. In a situation where one is uncertain it is forbidden to act with strength. One must  consider how the action may come out with out ones mental input.

As an example, from Gemara (Cullin 95a), “Rav examined a ferryboat ,” for when he reached a river a boat just came to him, without any effort of his own. From this he understood that it came from G-d. Without any sign he would have not travelled.”

Many people, dare I say most people,  would assume that the boat appearing on the river banks was just coincidence.  And if they did get a “desire” to travel, they would question and re-question until they had examined the facts and decided if it was good to get on the boat or not. If any questions are asked, it should not be whether they should travel at that particular time, just maybe if that boat is the correct one to use. If there are no other options, then probably it is.

G-d gives us gifts all the time (or leads us down a certain pathway, derekh or shteg, that is a gift), but how often do we fail to recognize the gift,  no mater how big or small it is.  If you realize that G-d has a hand in all goings on in the world and that everything is divine providence you can start to tune your heart, mind and soul to recognize when Hashem is giving you a gift.  And when given a gift, not acting upon it would be irresponsible.

From my experience when one realizes that there is divine providence in the world, one can, and will, be happier.  Before I started to tune myself to divine providence and see the gifts G-d was giving me, I spent time agonizing over minor decisions, trivial outcomes in life, or got upset when the path I thought I should be on (a physically pathway trying to reach an actual destination (shteg), or life’s pathway to success (derekh) etc..) didn’t go as planned.  Now I just take it as part of G-d’s plan for me and look to find the gift I am being given.  This also helps to make me much more calm, relaxed and joyous about life and life’s journey as I’m not stressing out over the little things and just enjoying what comes.

Izhbits-Radzin Hasidic Dynasty (Click)

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