False Beliefs: Letters July 2022  

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

“There’s a Meaning for Everything”

Some say, “There’s a meaning for everything.” But is that validated? Someone just got to the airport, realized at the gate he forgot his wallet, and had to reschedule his flight. He felt, “There’s a meaning for this delay.”  Perhaps there’s no “meaning” out there forcing your delay; it’s just an oversight of forgetting your wallet. “A meaning behind everything” is not validated by reality. It inexplicably excuses our faults, suggesting we’re being “mystically guided” by powers other than our free will…but it’s a false pacifier. Nothing in reality says, “There’s a meaning behind everything.” Yes, for perfected people like the prophets, God did guide all their affairs. But as the Sages teach, most people are not on that level and live by chance…where their errors cause their own misfortunes. When we blame imagined mystical forces for our troubles, we conveniently avoid self-critique, and forfeit self-correction to prevent future failures. And conversely, when we feel everyone we meet is “for a reason,” we again create troubles by giving others undue credit and leeway. Instead, we should follow the Rabbis who teach “respect and suspect everyone.” Be cordial to all, but don’t trust others with your time and money without critical thinking and examining their actions over time. 

“When the Time is Right, God will Make it happen” 

These fabricated “comforting” words are false, never enunciated by God. Although repeated by the masses, Torah alone must be our authoritative source. God runs the Earth, not people with comforting anecdotes. 

Maimonides (Guide, book III chap xi, xii) and Sforno state that only people on a high level are under God's Providence; most others like us are left to chance, “including most Jews and all gentiles” (Sforno, Lev. 13:47). Relying on some imagined "fate" to compensate for our mistakes is a Doomsday device. Waiting for things to automatically turn right in our lives when we continue in our same errors is a prescription for continued failure. Maimonides teaches that most people's errors are self-inflicted. Unless we change our choices, there will be no change in our lives. 

Fantasizing that “everything is for the good” is also not found in Torah. To change our lives we must change ourselves and this takes serious work. We got ourselves into this mess, not God. Therefore, we must reverse behaviors and poor decisions that caused our problems. God doesn’t tamper with our free will, that’s why He gave it to us!

If you continue to delude yourself with such anecdotes which are not found in Torah, which lead you to believe that "everything will work out for the best," you will have a rude awakening, because the errors you made that caused your failure now, and have yet gone uncorrected, will continue to keep you in ruin. Instead, consult with a wise person to help you to detect your errors and make calculated improvements in your choices.