Shaar Bitachon / Gate of TrustYomi Version - 7 Week Cycle
with classic commentaries
Gate #4 of Chovos Halevavos / Duties of the Heart
by Rabeinu Bahya ibn Paquda zt'l
(53th Cycle, day 12 of 49)
One who does not understand the matters of this world thinks that an immediate cause will force a change in matters, which in turn cause more changes (that present events constantly reshape the future). But really, a single cause is too weak to force a change by itself, as we see one grain of wheat can cause 300 ears of wheat to grow, which each contain 30 grains, so one grain would have produced around ten thousand grains. Can one hide the fact that one grain by itself is incapable of producing this amount? And likewise for other grains that one plants, and likewise we can say for a man or an animal from a drop of seed, or a huge fish from a tiny egg.
(Lev Tov: Rather, the true underlying power which causes the seeds to grow into ears of wheat is G-d's original decree from Genesis [that the seemingly biological life process driving the seed would unfold in this way]. And this pre-decree is what drives the matter to actuality through the available means.
To busy oneself in trying to bring early what the Creator decreed would come later, or to try to delay what was decreed to come early, or to try to make numerous what was decreed to be few or to try to diminish what was decreed to be numerous in worldly possessions, unless it causes strengthening of His service or accepting His torah (since on religious matters G-d does not decree on a man, rather the free will is in man's own hands, as will be explained - ML), - all this is due to (1) weakness in the recognition of G-d's all-knowing understanding (of us and our needs - PL), and (2) foolishness in failing to understand the benevolent character of G-d's conducts.
Translator: Normally the effect does not exceed the capacities of the cause. Here it is clear that the effect (human being with spiritual soul) is beyond the powers of the cause (physical human seed).)
(Pas Lechem: i.e. that all of G-d's conducts with His creations is for their benefit. Through realizing these two points, there will be trust.
The wise man has already hinted this when he said: "everything has a time and moment under the heaven" (Koheles 3:1), and afterwards he mentions 28 matters (corresponding to the 28 lunar positions which alludes to astrological fate - TL), as he says "a time to be born, and a time to die..", until "a time for war and a time for peace", and also: "for time and fate will overtake them all" (Koheles 9:11), and then he said: "[If you see oppression of the poor, and deprivation of justice and righteousness in the province], wonder not about the matter, for the Highest over the high watches over them, and there are higher ones over them" (Koheles 5:7). (that really it is not astrological "fate", but rather G-d is guiding everything behind the scenes through chains of causes according to His desire and decrees - TL)
The Madregos HaAdam wrote that one who worries and tries to earn more than what was decreed for him is like a man inside a moving train pushing the wall to make the train move faster.
(Pas Lechem: If you see oppression of the poor and deprivation of justice, etc., do not wonder, since certainly it has already been decreed on the wicked to get what they deserve, only that G-d will bring their retribution through chains of many causes (which are coordinated with everyone affected). Therefore, their retribution is delayed. But when the causes are finished, they will also be finished. This is what is meant by "for the Highest over the high watches over them, and there are higher ones", to teach that thus Divine wisdom decided to implement the divine decrees through many causes...
The ways of judgments of the Creator are too deep, hidden and lofty for us to understand part of them, and all the more so to understand their general principles. And the verse already says: "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts [higher] than your thoughts" (Yeshaya 55:9).
Pas Lechem: (earlier) And if you ask: if it is so that everything was pre-decreed, if so, why does this not happen right away from the beginning, for example, for an almond, why does it start as a bud, then blossoms into a flower, then sprouts a shoot, then a hull, then an almond shell, etc., why didn't ripe almonds grow from the beginning, as we see them now? On this, he answered that this is what Divine wisdom decided - that everything be implemented through chains of many causes and means in a natural looking progression.
Translator's note: the reason G-d made the world in such a way that His decrees are hidden behind "nature" is so that man can have free will to choose between good and evil. Let us consider what would happen if G-d would manifest His presence on the sky in His full power and glory to hit with lightning bolts all those who commit evil deeds. In such a situation virtually all people would start to live in terror and in fear. No man would have the courage to do anything for doing of which would not receive a direct order from G-d. Science and technology would collapse, as no-one would have the courage to research, investigate, or to just speculate - as everyone would be scared that this may act against G-d's intentions. Social life would collapse as no one would utter a word out of terror of saying the wrong thing. Medicine would fall down as doctors would be scared to heal thus breaking G-d's wishes. Most would be too scared to lift a finger for fear of sin and deserving a punishment. People would then live like forced slaves and soon the entire population would die out. In order to avoid such consequences and provide an arena for free will, G-d introduced several prevention measures to His coexistence with people. Hence He almost never openly manifests Himself to living people. He always maintains people in ambiguity about His presence in order to maintain "free will" and the possibility of virtue. Therefore, everything that G-d does, He does in such a manner that it is ambiguous - i.e. that it can be explained in many different manners, etc., etc. (Jan pajak)
Note that this is only one minor aspect. There's a lot more to it than that. The primary reason (as heard from Rabbi Mordechai Kornfeld) is that it has lots in common with raising children (who is the better parent-the one standing ready with a stick and carrot, or the one hiding behind the door and letting his child grow?), coaching independence, and thus becoming akin to the Creator. The answer lies at the very root of the need for free will and the requisite amount of it, which is discussed by the Ramchal in Derech Hash-m (beginning of ch. 2 of the first section or so) and in Daas Tevunos (where he offers another, more familiar, explanation).
Related to this point, if G-d would manifest Himself openly to human beings, it would completely crush their egos. No man would be capable of thinking highly of himself due to perceiving just how utterly puny, weak, and insignificant he is compared to the infinite G-d. This realization would render him completely and absolutely humble and his divine service would be forced and meaningless.
Hence, it is necessary for free will that a natural order exists whose purpose is to provide a misleading appearance that the world carries itself. Therefore, when nature was created, with it came the loopholes for interpreting the world according to the atheistic views. It is essential for G-d's plan of human free will. For only in such a situation of free will can a person earn meaningful levels of righteousness and holiness. This is why the world appears billions of years old as a result of some cosmological accident, etc. etc. Likewise G-d created life forms in stages from simple to complex to make room for a naturalistic explanation, etc. etc. But the true truth seeker will see the marks of divine wisdom which are all around us and draw the correct conclusions, as explained in Gates 1 and 2.
Another reason is as the Ramchal writes (Daas Tevunos siman 40):
"certainly G-d could have established the world through His omnipotent system, in such a way that everything would be totally incomprehensible to us, not before not after, without cause and effect. If He had done so, no one (atheist) would be able to open their mouths for we would not be able to understand anything whatsoever... but because He wanted us to understand a bit of His ways and attributes - on the contrary He very much wants us to exert ourselves on this..." end quote
Scientific progress has shown so far that the phenomena in the universe is understandable to man. Even the weirdest, most bizarre quantum mechanics, black holes, etc. can nevertheless be fit into human-made mathematical models that we can understand and use to make predictions. Albert Einstein said: "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible." This indicates that it is all for man. It is a kind of ladder to come to know a bit of G-d's wisdom and ways at our level.