(Eleventh in a series summarizing the book Halachic Man)
The second idea of creativity in Judaism is divine providence. For whatever reason, God wanted to pay special attention to us human beings. Unlike the rest of the animal kingdom that God watches only generally, God cares about every single human life.
God gave every person a choice whether he will exist as a creature among creatures or as an individual. Will he be “Man of the species” or “Man of God”?
It’s a mistake to look at divine providence only through the prism of divine activity. The philosophers battle it out: Is every single moment a miracle? Is God involved in every single occurrence or only some occurrences? No! Replay the tape. Human activity influences divine providence.
Divine providence is a function of the person’s spiritual development. For this reason the degree or quality of divine providence is not equal for every person but depends on the person’s spiritual level.
When my father taught me how to ride a bike I remember it was in a big open bumpy park on the south side of Chicago. He was running along with me and I was sometimes wobbly, then getting more skilled, and all of a sudden I realized: Hey! He’s not running with me anymore! I’m doing it! I’m doing it!
God watches us and sees how we’re doing and decides how much and what kind of help we need and what kind of direction we need. He’s always there for us. But are we there for Him?
It’s possible for a person to exist only because he belongs to the human race but there is nothing justifying his continued existence as an individual. The “man of the species” lives a passive existence, subservient to the opinions of others, doesn’t think about his actions and makes no mark on the world.
The “man of God” is innovative and aware. He doesn’t simply live because he was born. He knows his choices, responsibilities and tasks, moves in a forward direction and longs for the living God. Divine providence becomes for him a religious imperative. It’s up to him to expand and magnify divine providence through his actions and awareness. As soon as he engages in self-creation he fulfills the obligation implied by the principle of divine providence.
Prophecy, the highest level a person can reach in self-creation relates to divine providence in two ways: a) belief that God gifts people with prophecy and b) as a spiritual goal to reach for. A prophet is a special kind of person. He has to have wisdom, courage and so forth. Prophecy is something that has to be granted but the spiritual development that a person takes on to prepare for prophecy is something only he can do.
A small change in orientation is the first step in the same continuum that ultimately reaches prophecy. Spiritual development expands the realm of divine providence making the human-divine a closer and closer working relationship.
Human beings are capable of achieving spiritual excellence because unlike other creations they are not passive creatures. They are destined to transform themselves from passive creature to creator and from determined to determining.
A person has the freedom to release himself from the bondage of the rule of the species. He doesn’t have to be dependent upon what society demands and be like the crowd. He can be an individual. The ideal is not to rise to a spiritual realm where individuality is erased but to actualize his unique destiny, to come into being as an individual.
The power of individuality and uniqueness comes from the spirit. The spirit of a person is free. It is not subservient to the rules of the collective or the demands of the species. No decree from birth forces anyone to be righteous or evil.
And the spirit is free because the will is free. A person develops and refines and creates himself with the power of his will. It won’t subjugate itself to generalized rules.
Will is the source of everything that allows a person to grow – teshuvah, divine providence, prophecy and freedom of spirit. Furthermore the mind, the will, the emotions and creativity all have a vector pointing in a moral direction.The moment turns into eternity as the borders between past, future and present blur. The past redemption is alive in Halachic Man’s consciousness and is tied in an unbroken chain to the future redemption.
The strand running throughout calling on the person to take up his will and run with it in one direction or another is divine providence. Logotherapy, in the process of evoking conscience, is the applied psychology of divine providence.