Hashem Runs the World
By Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern
One of the most fundamental concepts in Torah hashkafah –Hashem is in complete control of all that transpires in the world. Although we are all aware that Hashem runs the world, it is hard to internalize this concept until we actually feel it.
Chazal say that in the era preceding Mashiach’s arrival, the generation will look like dogs (pnei ha’dor k’pnei hakelev, Sanhedrin 97a). The Chafetz Chaim cites Rav Itzeleh (son of Rav Chaim) Volozhin who explains that when someone throws a stick at a dog, the dog will try to take revenge on it by biting or kicking it, because he thinks it attacked him. The dog doesn’t realize that the stick is inanimate and controlled by a human being. The dog should be angry at the one who threw the stick, not at the stick itself.
For example, what is our initial reaction to the constant wave of anti-Semitism that is plaguing the Jewish nation?
Similarly, when oppressors rise against the Jewish nation, people should realize that these oppressors are the “staff” of Hashem who are merely carrying out His will. Instead of getting angry at the oppressor, we should realize who is controlling the staff, and direct our tefillos to Hashem and entreat Him to relieve our suffering (Lekach Tov Bereishis, p. 255).
Being influenced by the media, some people’s reaction may be to blame it on the foreign policies of the leading Western countries. Therefore, we reason, if there would be another president or prime minister, things would be different. This mindset is what I call “a dog’s mentality.” (See my book “The Parsha and YOU” for a complete discussion on this topic.)
Rav Dovid Ashear writes a parable about a man named Isaac, a rebellious son who came from a wealthy family. The only thing that kept him close to his father was his father’s money.
One day at the age of 21, he got fed up with abiding by his father’s rules, and he told his father that he is going out on his own. He said, “I don’t need your money anymore. I will become wealthy by myself.”
He traveled to a distant city with a desire to make it big. The first day there, he was unsuccessful finding a job, and he did not even have money for lodgings. He was forced to sleep on a park bench.
The next day was the same story. He was tired. He was hungry. He had second thoughts about leaving his family, but his pride would not allow him to return. The third day in the morning, somebody was passing through the park, and asked Isaac why he was sleeping there on a bench. Isaac told him that he did not have money or a job. The man said, “Don’t worry. I have work for you. You could walk my dog every day for a half hour. In exchange, you can have a room in my house, and I will provide for you three meals a day.”
Isaac was so thankful for the opportunity. Now, with less pressure, he was able to search for a job with a clear head. Eventually, he found a position in a bakery, and they paid him a very high salary for the small job he was doing. After a while, he had enough money to rent his own apartment, and he opened up his own bakery. He took a place that had cheap rent, but it was in a terrible location, and during the first month, he actually lost money.
Then one day, a man walked into the store, bought something, tasted it and said, “Wow, this is delicious! If your store was in a good location, you would make a fortune.”
Isaac said, “I wish, but I don’t have the money.”
The man said, “I believe in your product. I’ll go partners with you. I will put up all of the money to buy you a store in a prime location, and we’ll be partners,” and that’s what happened.
The store did so well there that Isaac was able to buy another store, and another store. After just two years, he had five stores and was very successful. At that point, he decided to write a letter to his father. This is what he wrote:
“My dear father, I wanted to tell you that after three years of being away from you, I’ve made my own fortune without any help from you, or my brothers. You are welcome to come see my bakeries whenever you want. It just goes to show you that hard work and perseverance are the keys to success. You don’t need a rich father to succeed.”
A few days later, Isaac received a letter back from his father and this is what it said:
“My precious son, I am very happy to hear that you are doing well. But for your ultimate benefit, it is my obligation to tell you what really happened. Did you ever wonder why a total stranger would let you stay in his house for just walking his dog for a half hour? I sent that man to you to get you off the streets, and I paid your rent there for the whole year.
“And, did you ever wonder why you were given such a high salary in the bakery for such a simple job you were doing? I got you the job, and I paid your salary. Also, I sent that man who walked into your store, and offered you out of the blue to be your partner, he was using my money. When you were in the new location, I paid off the customers to come to you to make you successful.
“You see, son, it is not your hard work that made you your money. It is your loving father, who will always love you. Love, Dad.”
This parable speaks to us so much. So many times we work hard, we see success, and naturally we feel good about our hard work. We think, “Look how my hard work paid off. Look at what I can do when I focus on something!”
Hashem would tell us, “Who do you think put the money in your pocket to be able to do what you did? Who sent you the customers? Who gave you the ideas? Who gave you your health? How is it that everything always works out so perfectly?”
It is not only in business. Our loving father is behind everything. He is the one sending us the messengers for our health and welfare. He has so much to give, and He loves to give to us. We have to recognize, however, how much we need Him. We are nothing without Hashem.
Hashem is involved in every part of our day, and every second of our lives, and we should constantly seek His help.