20 minute excerpt from Sept 28 2014 work group
Faith and Divine Providence: Rabbi Chaim Friedlander given by Rabbi Z Manela
Hashgacha pratis and hashgacha klalis, specific and general providence
Hashem’s supervision of creation is manifested in two forms known as hashgacha pratis, specific providence and hashkacha klalis, general providence. what is the difference between the two?
we must avoid the typical superficial interpretation that general providence which means that Hashem knows and acts only in a general way, while specific providence means that Hashem knows every single detail and acts upon those details. Hashem’s knowledge is all encompassiing. this superficial understanding is certainly wrong, for hashem’s knowledge is all encompassing, His knowledge is not limited to current events. it extends to all future events as well, as we say in our tefillos and prayers as well, in the mussaf of Rosh Hashana, You remember everything ever done. and not a single creature is hidden from You. everything is revealed and known before You. Hashem our Gd, Who keeps watch and sees to the very end of all generations, He is Hakodesh Baruch Hu, so whether Hashem supervises with general provience or with specific providence, it makes no difference in HIs knowledge of events. Either way He knows every single detail, all this is true in regard to this first attribute of hashkagacha. Namely the observation of all that is done.
Hashem acts at all times to all creatures in all of their details. concerning the second part of hashgacha as well, which is the action towards the creatures, we cannot say there are cretures that are supervised by hashgacha klalis are wholly acted upon by Hashem in a general way while the details are heaven forbid regulated through other forces. It is written you have been shown to know that Hashem He is the Hashem, there is none beside HIm, this is the pasuk that is found in chumash devarim, even in this extent, to the empty parts of the world that the yalkus brings down, meaning there is no independent force that acts in the world, only Hashem does. Certainly even those creatures who are supervised with hashgacha klalis are supervised by Hashem alone. The difference between a builder and the Holy One, this can be understood if we understand how hashem interacts with the world. in the words of Chaim Volozhin in Nefesh HaChaim he says the following: the name Elokim is well known. He that blesses His Name is the master of all forces. and the reason he is called a master of all forces because Hashem is not like the person who builds a house out of wood, so number one, the builder does not create the wood through his power. He selects and arranges the pieces of the wood that have already been created to form the building, and number two, once he arranges them to his liking, the building will continue to stand even after he moves his force. and this is brought down from the nefesh hachaim.
in other words, if a carpenter makes a table, he assembles not creates it. since the carpenter does not create the material but only assembles the pieces, its continued existence of the table does not depend on the carpenter anymore. Once his work is done, the carpenter loses all connection to that table. just as at the time of the Creation of the World, Hashem blessed is His Name, created them and brought them into existence from nothing, with His unlimited might, so too, every single instant of our existence, order and permanence depends entirely on that he blesses HIs Name constantly continues to bestows energy amd abundance of new life upon them through His Will. so unlike hte carpenter, number one, Hashem creates matter out of nothing, yesh maayin, and number 2, He sustains and renews it every instant, He did not create the creatures unfinished, leaving them to develop on their own. Rather He fashioned and made each creature completely developed. Rabbis said it in Gemara Rosh Hashana, in maisa bereshis, all that was created in the acts of the beginning was created in their full height and this means as Rav Chananel that the creatures were all created in their life form, among the live stock, the cow was created as mature cow, not as a calf. we cannot say that after Hashem’s initial creation, everything continues to exist with its own iinner force as a mere extension of the first force which Hashem applied once at the beginning of Creation. It may seem that matter already exists and that it will continue to exist on its own until the end of history. This is not so. at the beginning of creation Hashem created everything out of nothing, so too each and every minute Hashem creates everything new out of nothing.
Hashem’s will: let us clarify this fundamental idea. When we say Hashem created the world, we certainly do not mean that Hashem used certain tools to create the world, as a human craftsman who manufactures an item needs tools to fashion the desired item. Hashem did not need to say anything in order to create. as soon as Hashem wanted a creature to exist, it was created for His Will is reality. Not so a human being. His will cannot create anything. For after wanting something he has to execute his will through a certain act, without an action his desire remains merely a thought. Only Hashem as we say in tehillim, life is in His Will. for through His Will alone life exists and reality is created.
… said exposing His Will. but if the word said in connection with Hashem means that he wanted, why then does the Torah say let there be light, in bereshis? and not elokim desires there be light and there was light. the Ramban indicates that the word said in this instance indicates will. every instance of and He said in the account of creation denotes will or desire. The answer is, when somebody wants others to know what he wishes, he reveals that will by saying it. so too in regard to the holy one, He said is a metaphor for an expression of His Will. What we actually see is deep, His Will becomes revealed to us through that action, and this is the meaning of the pasuk that says that Hashem says let there be light. Hashem wanted the light and expressed the desire to us. as it says in the pasuk vayehi ohr, and there was light. because at that same moment that He wanted the light, the will was expressed and the light was simultaneously created.
Hashem’s will renews the creation each instant. Just as Hashem created light and other creatures constantly, He renews or recreates them each instant. in every moment there is a new will of Hashem that desires existence of the creation. thus He acclimates it anew and therefore were He to remove His influence from it for even one moment, they would instantly become nothing. and this is brought down from the sefer Nefesh HaChaim.
As Reb Chaim Volozhin explains, our sages taught us this great lesson through one of the daily blessings they composed. this is as the men of the great assembly would say the blessing of He creates light, and His goodness He renews constantly the work of creation, and it means every single moment, as it says in tehillim, to Him Who makes great lights. it says Who makes. this is from Nefesh HaChaim.
The morning blessings are in the present tense. This is why our chochomim use our present tense in the morning blessings. for example, the blessing for sight is who gives sight to the blind. Hashem not only created man with eyes, He even continues to open the person’s eyes every single minute giving him the ability to see. we praise Hashem in this manner not only by a man subject to changes such as health and illness, but even above the inanimate part of creation whose existence seems fixed and unchangeable, so we praise Him that He is the one that spreads out the earth upon the waters, in the present tense, and not spread out in the past tense meaning right now, Hashem spreads out and stretches out the earth upon which we stand and walk over the waters. Hashem renews them with HIs renewed Will every single minute and from that Will is his sustenance, not from the original operation.