[Avodah] free will vs hashgacha

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Thu Jun 9 07:27:09 PDT 2022

I see chaos Theory as a great way to understand how a neis nistar can
change a life or even the course of history.

In fact, I keep a double-pendulum fidget toy, one of the simplest
examples of chaos, in my pocket as a reminder. Hishtadlus can change
the odds of where the outer pendulum will be, but the actual outcome is
beyond human control.

(For the curious, something like this https://amzn.to/3NE7uFo Also in the
same pocket... apple seeds. My third set; they keep on sprouting on me!)

Another topic this discussion raised in the chain of causation. It's not
one cause learing to one effect, which is then a cause of the next effect.
It's not the chain of causation, it's more like a chain mail. A whole
web of interlocking causal links.

And infinitely more events that could have happened but didn't that are
causes of an event in the sense that their being prevented was hasaras

And any one of those could have been prevented by a neis nistar that
chaotically grew into something truly significant. Unlinking a critical
ring in the chain mail required for an event to happen.

Thought of this way, there is a lot of room for people to be able to
decide whatever we want, but HQBH still tailor the actual outcomes. And
not just for one person, but for EVERY person involved.

Like Iyov's children dying. Seifer Iyov doesn't discuss why they should
die. Or why Iyov's wife should suffer through losing them. Or their
spouses or potential spouses and children should be without. It only
discusses the one question of how Iyov was to grow from his experiencing
their death. (And seems to answer that us puny human minds cannot
really know.) The book of Eishes Iyov was never written, but it could
be equally elaborate.

On another tangent about free will, HP and causality:

Quantum Mechanics and Chaos Theory haven't been entirely combined. To
some extent, because QM says the bottom level is statistical, most of
the chaos gets blurred out. In CT, they look at cases where a system
could be one of nearly identical paths and can end up with grossly
different large scale outcomes down the line because of it. In QM, the
system is on all those paths at once, at different probabilities. So,
fewer situations where two nearly identical seeming systems exist.

But where they do... CT allows how quantum randomness can grow into
macroscopic differences. Some chaotic systems can grow differences that
are not physically deterministic into major events. I wouldn't assume
they are really random, just that HQBH does His hester panim by conforming
to the Schroedinger Equation and making sure the law of large numbers
conforms to the Born Rule. IOW, a coin doesn't have to be actually
random for it to land heads closer and closer 50% of the time as you flip
it over and over. By picking which 50% are heads, Hashem can make His
Will expressed regardless of everything we choose to do and of His Desire
not to regularly violate nature.

On Tue, Jun 07, 2022 at 02:18:52PM -0400, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
> R' Joel Rich asked:
>> I'm discussing  a case where HKBH has to intervene so that a
>> desired end be accomplished (thought experiment - the sum
>> total of everyone's free choice would result in the annihilation
>> of the Jewish people (lo aleinu) - how does hkbh intervene
>> to ensure this doesn't happen?)

> It seems to me that your experiment presumes that Hashem HAS to do a
> certain thing, and then you ask how He would go about PREVENTING it.

> Isn't that contradictory? How is your case different from "How would He
> make a rock so heavy that He can't lift it?"

Yes, free will and hashgachah peratis is a paradox. Recall the Or haChaim
on why the brothers thought that throwing Yosef into a pit of venemous
creatures was better than killing him outright. It gave more range for

I don't think many moderns subscribe to such a hashkafah. The Ramchal,
Besh"t and Gra made what we used to call here "Universal HP" too popular.
As I said before the QM detour, we can use chaos theory to understand
how even their choosing to kill him outright would leave enough room for
Hashem to provide each person outcomes that are most appropriate for them.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Like a bird, man can reach undreamed-of
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   heights as long as he works his wings.
Author: Widen Your Tent      But if he relaxes them for but one minute,
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    he plummets downward.   - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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