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And Moshe said, "So said Hashem, 'At about midnight I shall go out in the midst of Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Par'oh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the maidservant who is behind the millstone and all the firstborn of beast. There shall be a great outcry in the entire land of Egypt, such as there has never been and such as there shall never be again. But against all the Children of Israel, no dog shall whet its tongue, against neither man nor beast, so that you shall know that Hashem will have differentiated between Egypt and Israel'" (Shemos 11:4-7).
The Ramban explains that there were philosophers who could not deny the existence of a Creator of the Universe. However, they contested the belief in hashgachah peratis , Divine Providence, Personal supervision and intervention of the Almighty Creator. They argued that it is illogical, and perhaps even irreverent, to claim that Hashem is involved in the mundane matters of this world. They said that to believe that Hashem is absorbed with such trite affairs is insulting to Him. They questioned whether or not Hashem really knows or even cares what we do? And, most of all, would He bother to get involved?

When Hashem saved the oppressed Jewish People from their oppressors, the Egyptians, He proved that He surely does know who is righteous and who is wicked; He does care, and He does, indeed, get involved in the goings on of this lowly world.

Whenever a person notices that things seem to "happen by coincidence" in his life, he should realize that it is actually the Guiding Hand of Hashem that made things work out in perfect synchronization. If he pays attention to how often these "coincidences" occur, he will realize that it is not possible that so many things happen merely by chance. If he is honest, he will recognize that Hashem is "alive and well" and is actively involved in the entire world in general, and in his own life in particular. One should remember these experiences and even relate them to others to help them strengthen their own belief in hashgachah Peratis.

When I was a young boy, my parents left me with my grandfather at their summer home while they went out somewhere. I observed my Grandfather praying, and suddenly I was very frightened to see him saying Tehillim and crying profusely. When my parents returned, I ran to my father, may he be well, and told him, "Someone must be very sick. Zaidie is saying Tehillim and crying very much." My father smiled and told me not to worry. "Zaidie always cries when he says Tehillim every day." I was extremely impressed and I realized that I had witnessed and had been given to understand how a devout person was supposed to pray to Hashem.

Many years later, Zaidie died. Since my father is the oldest of his children, he received Zaidie's old, worn out book of Tehillim. I was very happy and proud when my father decided that it should be given to me since, as a yeshiva bachur, I would know how to appreciate it and use it properly. It was too brittle to pray from, so I had it rebound and only used it on special occasions. To this day, I always place it on the amud (pulpit) beside me when I lead the congregation in the Musaf prayer on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Some years later, it occurred to me that Zaidie also had an old siddur (prayer book) which he prayed from every day. I had seen it when he was alive and I wondered who had taken it after he passed away. I asked my father and he said that he wasn't sure but he thought that perhaps his sister Frieda, the oldest of the girls, had taken it. I decided to visit her and ask her if she would agree to give it to me.

Aunt Frieda was very surprised when I knocked on her door, perhaps the first time I had ever visited her. She gave me coffee and fruit, and, before I even had a chance to tell her why I had come or to ask her anything, she began telling me how proud she was that, of all the children, she had been privileged to receive Zaidie's siddur. She brought it out and gave it to me to look at. As I held it affectionately and turned its worn out pages, she got very emotional and told me that it was the most precious thing she owned and that she would never sell it even if someone offered her one million dollars! I realized that there was no chance of my getting it from her and I decided not to even mention it. Instead I began talking about other, less significant things. She, however, seemed to be deep in thought.

Suddenly, "out of the blue," she said to me, "Ben Zion, how would you like to have Zaidie's siddur? Totally shocked, I said, "You know, that's really what I came here to ask for. But when I heard how much it means to you I decided not to even dare mention it."

"No, no," Aunt Frieda said, "you are a yeshiva bachur and Zaidie would surely have wanted you to have it. You will use it and take care of it properly." And with that she gave it to me as I thanked Hashem first and her second for making my wish come true.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel