Monday, December 04, 2006

Individual Providence II

I was asked a few months ago whether any rishon believed in universal individual providence. I responded that I could not think of any but perhaps R. Chasdai Crescas was of that view. I was mistaken about R. Chasdai Crescas. In his Or Hashem (2:2:4), one of the reasons he offers for why bad things happen to good people is: "...[T]he severing of the connection and cleaving between him and God that sometimes occurs, since he is physical..."

R. J. David Bleich expands on this as follows ("Providence in the Philosophy of Hasdai Crescas and Joseph Albo" in Yaakov Elman and Jeffrey Gurock eds., Hazon Nahum, p. 330):

Misfortune may also occur as the result of a temporary severance of the bond of attachment between the individual and God, as a result of which personal Providence is withdrawn and the individual reverts to the governance of the constellations. Severance of the bond between the human and the Divine leading to a withdrawal of Providence is, of course, a concept advanced by both Maimonides[42] and Gersonides.[43] For Crescas,[44] hwoever, it is the severance of a spiritual bond created by the love of God rather than severance of an attachment born of an intellectul bond resulting from the perfection of the intellect.

[42] Guide, Book II, chap. 51.
[43] Milhamot ha-Shem, Fourth Treatise, chap. 5.
[44] Or ha-Shem, Second treatise, kelal 2, chap. 4.
The only way to assert that R. Chasdai Crescas believes in universal individual providence is to posit that chance (mikreh) or the constellations are really a form of hidden individual providence, an assertion I find very difficult.

(See also this post)

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