to Ponder Number 105
in tractate Pesachim 8b gives an interesting example of the tension
between trust in God and the natural order of things while simultaneously
adding a new aspect to this problem.
The Talmud answers in the
negative by stating that one is only allowed to take a risk when injury
is unlikely, but where it is likely, it is not permissible.
To prove the point, it quotes an example from an incident in the life
of Shmuel (Samuel) the prophet. When God commands Shmuel to go and
anoint David as the new king of Israel, Shmuel objects and based on
his knowledge of the temper of king Shaul says: "How can I go,
if Shaul hears this, he will kill me" (2 Shmuel, 16:2). This
is a rather strange and irreligious objection. Why should Shmuel be
afraid that he would get hurt by King Shaul? Once God has told him
to go, what is there to worry about? Would such a commandment not
imply that God will look after Shmuel properly? Surprisingly, God
responds that Shmuel should take a heifer and say that he came to
bring a sacrifice, so that king Shaul should not discover that he
also came to anoint David. (Ibid)
Most interesting however
is the Talmud's point of view that when one is involved in a good
deed or mitzvah, one does not have to worry about getting injured,
as long as it is not highly probable that such injury would occur.
One way of looking at this is that as long as the laws of nature are
not openly violated one is allowed to trust in God's protection. A
very good example would be a plane flight. Since most planes land
safely at their destination and are built in such a way that it is
the law of nature which keep the plane in the air, one is allowed
to travel in such a plane. No doubt there is always the risk of mechanical
problems which themselves are caused by the law of nature.
Still one is allowed to take such a trip and pray that such problems
will not occur. This means that as long as the laws of nature are
not openly violated and it is possible for God "to deal"
with the problem without an open miracle but by His personal intervention,
it is permissible to enter such a plane. Once it requires an open
miracle and henceforth an open violation of the laws of nature,
it would be prohibited.
To be continued.
Nathan Lopes Cardozo
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