13. It is accepted today to relate to every surprising event in life as a revelation of Divine Providence. How do we know which unexpected events are really signs of communication from Heaven?
Not only unexpected events are Divinely supervised, but also predictable mundane events are orchestrated by Divine Providence. The Baal Shem Tov says that even a particular leaf that flies in the wind is directed from Above, and that is not an unexpected phenomenon – rather, it is a natural and predictable one.
The question is, is The Holy One Blessed-be-He signaling me? Is He hinting to me to which direction I should turn and which one not to turn to?
Truthfully it is not always possible to know, because obstacles and delays could be a test, and then my job is to overcome them, or on the other hand it could be a sign to refrain from doing a particular thing.
So the main thing is, to examine events through the eyes of the Torah. If the obstacles and delays are in the areas of keeping the Mitzvot and serving G d, this shows that they must be overcome, because keeping the Mitzvot is definitely something that G d wants from me.
The Baal Shem Tov says that from everything a person sees and hears he should learn something about serving G d. It didn’t happen by chance, it is coming to teach me something, to help me develop. Nothing is coincidence, but what is the significance of it? It signals us to understand that we have to look into the Torah. We cannot just make up interpretations.
So, if for example, all the ‘signs’ showed me something very specific, but my Rebbe or my logic tell me something else, what should I do?
The ‘signs’ don’t show me that that is what G d wants. If the Rabbi tells you – listen, this isn’t what’s good for you, then the ‘signs’ were a test for you, to be confronted with an enchanting possibility, but to choose to refrain from it because the Torah says not to do it.
It could be that the Rabbi will tell you to do a particular thing, and then you see ‘signs’, you can conclude that G d is helping you. It is written ‘In the way that a person wishes to go, there he is led’, and the signs you saw are evidence of the process evolving by Divine Providence.
Everything must be examined according to what the Torah wants from me, because certainly everything is directed by the Creator, but part of the principles of Divine Providence is that sometimes we are tested with the possibility of choosing the opposite of what G d wants us to do.
A simple example: If the evil inclination tempts us to do a forbidden act, and by Divine Providence we are presented with the possibility of committing it, certainly we cannot say that this is a sign that we must do the forbidden thing, rather it is a test we must overcome, that the Divine Providence brought about so that we would stand up to it.
In summary: The intent of Divine Providence is to bring G d into our personal lives in a revealed way. To know that He is directing, and sees and hears what happens. The more a person brings G d into his life, the more calm and correct his life will be, as he looks at it the right way.
One of the things that holds a person back from leading his life calmly and peacefully, more than anything else – is anxiety about the future, and concern about not being able to control the events that will happen to him. As soon as a person internalizes that everything is directed and supervised under complete control of the Creator, even in the smallest details of what happens to him, then even when he does not know the exact meaning of what is happening to him, the knowledge that it is all by Divine Providence will help him fulfill his mission in the world in a happy and peaceful manner.