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Is G-d in the Consequences?

Is G-d in the Consequences?



Someone close to me really messed up and has since experienced very serious and painful consequences. A friend says she doesn't believe G‑d "causes" the consequence, because, she says, "we have free will."

Although that may seem like a loving attitude, I find it disturbing. I find much more comfort in the idea of a G‑d that deals with us directly, rather than leaving it up to consequences. Or maybe a G‑d that is even "in the consequence," with the idea that there is an ultimately loving purpose to the consequence. Without this, the world seems just too scary and lonesome.


There is much truth in all you write. On the one hand, yes, the consequences are our own doing. They are the product of our free will pushing the buttons and pulling the levers of the cosmic pinball machine. We all have the freedom to walk outside barefoot in the snow, but don't complain if your nose starts to run. We have it in our power to hurt others, but be prepared to receive in kind. Kindle wood beneath your natural human passions, but don't be shocked to find a wildfire consuming all you have built. Put out your hand to help others, and eventually a hand will come to help you or your children or your children's children. Fill your life with the wisdom of Torah and the Torah will protect and shield you from many woes. Bring light into the world and your own soul will shine as well. Plant and reap, sow and harvest.

And yet in all this, there is nothing else but G‑d. The numbing cold of that snow beneath your feet, the sensation of air passing through your nostrils, the pulse of blood rushing through your veins, the passions that tug at your kishkes—all is nothing more than modalities of His Infinite Light tightly condensed in rhythms, patterns and sensations designed for the human mind to grasp and feel.

If so, He must be there in those consequences as well. For if there is nothing else but Him then even in that space He has granted us to make our own choices and determine our own world, He is there too. Meaning, even the empty space is G‑d.

It may not be obviously Him. To those who seek Him in all their ways He peeks from behind the veil of natural events, squeezing their hand fondly as He carries them through their individualized curriculum of life. As they speak to Him in their prayers, as a child speaks to a parent, face to face, heart to heart, so He speaks back to them in every nuance of life, His face peering through the mist of life's consequences.

But to those who choose to ignore His presence, He is compelled to hide within the cloak of cause and effect, of "that's just the way the world is." "If you will deal with Me haphazardly," He tells us through Moses' voice, "then I too will deal with you in much the same way." Meaning: "You have chosen to live as a lonesome creature in a hostile pinball machine—and so I am forced to disguise myself as such."

Yet even the hiddenness is love. For this way, eventually the human soul will come seeking its other half which is truly G‑d Himself, and find his own soul and his G‑d hiding there within the trail of broken pieces. Picking up the scattered shards, he discovers himself in the embrace of a loving G‑d who waited patiently in exile for His precious child to return.

For even the hiddenness is G‑d.

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Benzion Waldman Millburn, NJ July 9, 2017

G-d is right there with you Dear Rabbi:

I must respectfully disagree that G-d is everywhere. That would insinuate that the empty space in the Universe is also occupied by G-d. I submit G-d's presence is far too important to be even slightly relegated to open area. Rather G-d is in each of us. In fact , our soul's are actually G-d.
G-d absolutely provides mankind with freedom of choice, however, our moral compass is governed by our soul. To extent we deviate from what our soul desires, G-d does get involved...but only to the extent that we become aware of the consequences of our actions.
Your questioner, ask about being left alone to her own devices. As I've explained G-d is always there with you... the little voice in your head giving you proper instruction. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma December 6, 2012

return, to a deep subject Since it's all G_d, and since I deeply know this, as every turn of my life, every waking breathing moment, I have evidence for this, then I fall down, and will continue to fall down, when I encounter the terrible happenings in this world, and one such, led me back to this page. It was a rescue story from The Humane Society, of a dog, left to die, in a barren, hole of a cage, and yet, when this little chihuahua was rescued, he was so grateful, so happy, and has become the most loving, endearing of pets. To see him, in this state, made me anguish, and the anguish comes from knowing, from knowing it's all G_d. This has to mean, and it does, that we have an inbuilt learning curve towards compassion, but that this dog, was and is, deeply part of this story. I think it begs the question to keep talking about "free will" as is done, on these pages, when Judaism as practised by Chabad, totally "knows" about the existence of Divine Providence. I grapple daily with the paradox. And go to G_d. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma October 17, 2012

Free will There is another story running,about "free will" because to say, it's ALL Divine Providence is to acknowledge this. But we go one way, or the other, on these pages, what is and is not, of G_D, and then there are many, an increasing number who say it is all G_D, but to be numb to this, has to do with G_d too, obviously, if you believe it's all G_D.

And so we get taken in circles, and I believe it's totally deliberate. And to deliberate on this, makes me know, I freely chose this story, and when you get to a certain point, the point of it all, meaning being about love, you know, you wouldn't be you, celebrating, as you do, yourself and others, without your story! Ego is very small in all of this, and who needs ego, rather the feeling of WOW, to be alive to just this, another day, another dawn! Reply

Patricia Vancouver, Canada October 16, 2012

Am finding this question is very relevant to my question, and a thank you is sent to all and to Rabbi Freeman for this article! I would answer her question and say to remember, ego is part of it and we need acceptance of that ego. Then, to watch her tongue because if a directive is given her by G-d to keep some things to herself, that is good, and He tells us not to worry so. I mean to say, for my own life, how I need to direct my own life and I need skepticism in doing so. Then, allow yourself time to be alone with Him. Forgive. Funny, such answers are my own answering myself for this thought process got me into asking the right questions. Reply

Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell Riverside, CA, USA August 1, 2012

Rabbi Tzvi, this is very poetic. However, it doesn't connect with my idea of G-d. It is extremely philosophical as an answer, and up to each person to decide whether to buy into those ideas or not. I don't, particularly because of situations such as Jerry from Davis, CA poses. Also, the quote you site of G-d telling Moses how Moses deals with Him is how He will deal back with Moses. I don't believe G-d is a little kid pouting, saying, "Nyah nyah, whatever you do to me I'll do to you back!" Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma December 25, 2011

to be battered by paradox and why people do not want to discuss the issue or go to deep, is contained within this article and series of commentaries.

life IS paradox, and maybe we need to get used to it, at ALL levels. If you look to the discoveries of physics it's very clear, we're all molecules and we all are part of a molecular soup, and yet here we are, with boundaries, and we have connective tissue, as part of these bodies, and we also are part of a far far greater connective tissue.

And yes, it all does fold together. A cake mix. A batter, determinism and free will. We see it and then, we refuse to see it, because that is how we are built. The observer very much determines the outcome (Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle).

I have no doubt, not one drop, that G_d runs this entire universe, ONE verse, and that poetry is the distillation of deep truths about the universe and all Creativity, and within words, themselves, a story, that only G_d could have written, involving us all, a story about LOVE itself Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma January 27, 2011

The Hidden Face of G_d Thou

an open window
I put my hands through
a glass globe
a blinking universe

I will crawl through the desert
to reach you
I will not stop loving you
not mirage
you show yourself
your multicolored cloak
hides the entire world Reply

Jerry Davis, CA May 17, 2009

My arrogance Dear R. Freeman,
Sorry for the tone of my earlier post. I often get excited about the questions/answers on this site, and I always appreciate your responses. It seems like I was trying to trap you or catch you in an error or show off my limited theological learning, of which you and Chabad are an important part.
Even if you have all the answers to the big questions, it doesn't follow that I could understand them. So, thanks anyway for all your good work! Reply

Tzvi Freeman Thornhill, Ontario May 17, 2009

Response to Barry Mandel "Religion has too many answers and not nearly enough questions."

I am in complete agreement with this statement.

"It is free will, not G-ds presence that directs us."

I am in 50% agreement with this statement. Free will is also G-d's presence. Reply

Juanita silver spring, md May 15, 2009

victims? I also would like a response to Barry's and Jerry's coment. Reply

Anonymous May 15, 2009

I would thoroughly enjoy reading Rabbi Freeman's response to Barry Mandel's comment. Reply

Sarah Liberman Melrose, MA via May 13, 2009

God's prescence I read a thought about "evil existing when there is an absence of God.... Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."

I find these thoughts very comforting because bad thjngs do inevitably happen in this world - feeling God's loving presence helps me deal with it -

Pslam 90 also helps.. "When he calls to me, I will answer. I will be with him in time of trouble. I will rescue and honor him."

I believe there is truth in these words- I've seen evidence in my own life, and King David must have experienced much of the same to write such a beautiful psalm. Reply

Barry Mandel Agoura, CA via May 12, 2009

In the consequences G-d?? Please...If G-d is "indescribable,perfect love...." as Steve in Malta postulates then genocide of any race, rape, murder and any other horror you can think of are all attributable to G-d. With the exception of the parts of the 20TH century more deaths have been commited in the name of "G-d" than for any other reason. Religion has too many answers and not nearly enough questions. People discuss the torah as if someone had witnessed G-d writing it down for them and would like to discover its meaning. The Supreme Court does that with the constitution. I've listened to religious scholars interpret a "rule" to live by and bend & twist it till it serves their purpose. It is "..and man created g_d in HIS own image." It is free will, not G-ds presence that directs us. Feeling more comfortable thinking G-d has a purpose in your actions is just emotional pap. Reply

Tzvi Freeman Thornhill, Ontario May 8, 2009

For Jerry As I write again and again, you have two eyes for a reason. When it comes to yourself, look with one eye and see G-d's kindness. When it comes to someone else, kvetch to G-d with all your heart--and then do something about it.

See The Heresy of Kindness. Reply

Jerry Davis, CA May 7, 2009

G-d in the consequences The article addresses only those who choose to ignore G-d; what about the victims of these people? Where is G-d during, say, child abuse? How is this hiddenness G-dly love? Is the suffering of innocents necessary in G-d's 'economy' of the universe? Reply

Steve Malta April 30, 2009

Re: The Hiddenness of G-d This is a great answer. I did not mean to sound insensitive to the needs of the suffering.

It seems to us, when we stray from where G-d wants us to be that He uses a megaphone to call us back (overwhelming!).

It is important to understand that everything G-d does is motivated by His love for us. Not just ordinary love, but an indescribable, perfect love, capable of all things. Reply

Steve Malta April 30, 2009

The hiddenness of G-d Tell your friend to hang in there, G-d is faithful and whatever it is that has happened, G-d will sanctify Himself through it. This is how He raises us up to life eternal. Reply