A friend who was supposed to join me this weekend said to me, “I'm not sure if it’s right for me to be upset, since there is nothing else that I could have done, and apparently I wasn’t meant to go—but I was really looking forward to going.”
This comment made me think. My disappointment was unmitigated by such sensibilities. It never occurred to me that I oughtn’t feel upset about the necessitated cancellation because I clearly “wasn’t meant to go.” Of course, I quickly acclimated myself to the adjustment, and did not manifest my disappointment in outward action, but internally I felt justified in a certain sense of loss (not in any significant way, mind you, but in a perfectly normal, proportional sense). It wouldn’t cross my mind to say, “Clearly, God did not will me to be there this shabbos, so I should feel just as satisfied with the change of plans as I felt beforehand.” My friend, however, apparently believed that in some way feeling upset was not right, because this turn of events was Divinely ordained.
What do our respective reactions say about the way that we view God’s hand in our lives? The person who responds with, “Clearly, this is God’s plan,” assumes a certain amount of hashgacha over every event in our lives. My reaction of, “Aw, shucks. Bad weather is so annoying,” removes God’s specific intentions from the equation and blames teva (natural law).
Obviously, within Jewish sources there are differing views on hashgacha, and each reaction reflects a legitimate position. Mine would reflect a more rationalistic, Maimonidean approach—which makes sense, considering that my high school heavily pushed Rambam’s approach to most everything. However, I do have difficulty with a wholly Maimonidean position (to sum up inadequately: God does not intervene on behalf of individuals unless they are tzadikim). I have many issues with this view, but they are outside the scope of this post.
If I had to express my own opinion, I would say that I believe that Hashem does have hashgacha over certain aspects of our lives, but not others. I cannot determine where I draw the line—in fact, my whole perspective is extremely muddled—but I suppose it’s fair to assume that I blame ice storms on teva rather than Divine intervention. Yet I can’t help but hope that Hashem has some sort of ultimate plan in mind for me, as I struggle over grad schools and career plans and my uncertain future.
Who knows? Perhaps staying in school this shabbos will somehow shape my destiny. I’ll keep you posted.