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First Blessing 12: Providence Part One

Elokainu vei’lokei avoteinu


Elokainu vei’lokei avoteinu speaks of two separate attributes of God. Elokainu (“Our Lord”) refers to that attribute called hashgachat pratit, or Individual Providence. Meaning, God is intimately involved with the lives of each one of us. Elokei avoteiu (“The Lord of our ancestors”) is the philosophical term for the attribute called hashgachat k’lalit, or General Providence.


Individual Providence would be “What does Tim deserve today? Should I make harder for Tim to grow as a human being today, or should I make it easier, or remain neutral?” General Providence is “Even before I decide how I am going to interact with Tim, I am going to have to see how my involvement with Tim is going to affect his wife, and his children, or his parents. And if it will affect his wife this way, it may affect his mother-in-law this way. And if it affects his mother-in-law this way, it may affect his father-in-law that way. And if it affects his father-in-law this way, it may affect his father-in-law’s business associates that way.” None of us operates in a total vacuum. Therefore, every decision that is made for hashgachat pratit is always done in the context of hashgachat k’lalit, really Infinite Providence – the full picture of all of Creation in mind. So at no point does God look at me as an individual alone, but always as a broader picture of Creation. But then I get lost, don’t I? That’s why we stress the separate judgment of hashgachat pratit. Don’t the two contradict each other? – Not if you’re God. That’s why we put them together.


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