Q: How would we reconcile hashgacha protis and free will?
A: How would we reconcile hashgacha protis, the particular attention that Hashem gives to us with the principle of free will, which means our ability to choose the way we wish?
And the answer is they both cooperate. Hakodosh Boruch Hu manipulates our fate according to our choices. So when the Jewish people choose to follow in the ways of the Torah, Hakodosh Boruch Hu sees to it that they continue and they are permitted to live more or less a normal life.
It’s when they demonstrate a disloyalty, like it happened in Europe before World War II, then Hakodosh Boruch Hu switched on His hashgacha protis, His especial providence and He told the paperhanger from Vienna, an ignorant fanatic and a foolish man, “I’m going to make you the ruler over 80 million Germans.”
So the paperhanger said, “Come on! How will I become a ruler even over the smallest Austrian village? No one will choose me for a mayor. I’m a nobody. I’m a paperhanger.”
So Hakodosh Boruch Hu said, “Get going. The time has come. I need you. I want you to cause a great disturbance in the world, a convulsion, a catastrophe. And you’re the devil who’s able to do it.”
And that’s hashgacha protis. It was unbelievable hashgacha protis! The German people were a cultured people and they were law and order people; much better than Americans. You couldn’t hurt a Jew before Hitler. You couldn’t hurt a hair of a Jew in Germany. It was unthinkable! Every German would put his hand on the head of his children and he would swear, “We would never kill Jews in Germany.” It was unthinkable!
I was in Germany before Hitler. Germans were very polite people. And they became the ogres, cannibals. They became the worst humans that ever lived. Never were there such wicked people as the Germans. That’s because Hakodosh Boruch Hu made them wicked when the time came and He destroyed European Jewry because the time had come to demonstrate Jews must have a Torah. You can’t be ‘Jewish’. You have to have Hashem as your G-d and His Torah.
And when Jews began throwing away the Torah and living according to the gentiles’ ideas and they thought they could get away with it, so Hakodosh Boruch Hu demonstrated היו לא תהיה, that it’s not going to happen. Like the navi Yechezkel said, היו לא תהיה – it’s not going to be that you’ll be like the goyim, אם לא ביד חזקה ובחמה שפוכה אמלוך עליכם – I’m going to rule over you with a strong hand and with poured out fury (20:32-33).
And the Jews in America better wake up because you cannot throw away the Torah and think that Hakodosh Boruch Hu will keep quiet. There’s hashgacha protis! He’s in charge of the world and He manipulates the affairs of our nation. And we have to know that.
We learned it many times over and over again, but American ignorant Jews forget history or they never knew any history and they think that they could get lost and they forget all about our past.
And hashgacha protis means Hakodosh Boruch Hu guides the affairs of our nation in accordance with our free-will choices of virtue. If you choose right, it’ll be like it used to be in the days of old: Dovid conquered all the enemies. Shlomo HaMelech had peace for so many decades because they walked in the ways of Hashem. As soon as they started passing off the path of righteousness, then things started happening to them.
TAPE # 443 (January 1983)