Respect the Natural Order

In a recent edition of a large US Chareidi English language newspaper, an article claims "there is no teva (natural order), no natural cause/effect relationship, involved in our success whatsoever...the very outward actions one is forced to perform are in exact contradiction to one's spiritual goal...tefillah is the only reliable and potent hishtadlus".

We can rely on several great medieval Torah authorities, such as Ran, to help the author of that article escape the artificial intellectual conundrums that Hareidi/Chassidic philosophy has created in the author's mind.

In Derashos HaRan, Derush 8, the Ran explains that "it is the will and desire of Hashem, blessed be He, to maintain the natural order of the world to the extent possible, and because nature is precious in His eyes, He does not alter it save for circumstances of pressing need."

On the Torah verse "by the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread" (Genesis 3:19), the great medieval commentator Radak wrote:

"Man will have to be fatigued by a variety of strenuous activities before finally being able to consume bread. He has to plough, to sow, to remove weeds, to cut the grain, to thresh the kernels in their husks, to winnow, to grind the kernels into flour, to knead the dough and to bake it."

Ran's Torah philosophy opposes the popular notions we have been fed of Chassidic rebbes constantly performing some kind of miracles. Instead we are taught by Ran that Hashem avoids performing miracles whenever possible.

Once one accepts that a natural order (including cause and effect) exists by the will of Hashem, the Chareidi/Chassidic intellectual conundrums disappear. Hashem has created a natural order that is precious to Him. Man is allowed by Hashem to utilize that natural order to produce Man's needs. There is no contradiction at all in the fact that Man must exert himself, within the natural order, to produce Man's needs.

Tefillah serves to thank Hashem for creating the natural order that allows Man to continue to exist, without miracles being required.

But Man's continued existence does require him to perform the necessary exertion ( hishtadlus - hishtadlut ) within the natural order.

Respect the Natural Order