Monday, March 06, 2006

Coincidence is God's way of staying anonymous

I wrote about bizzarre coincidences before. Well, it happened again today.

I went to a lecture given by a rabbi today. It was a lecture on Purim, but I didn't know exactly what the topic will be. I went for the wrong reason. I was invited by someone who may be a good business contact, and so it seemed like a smart thing to do in terms of networking with this guy...

Somehow, the lecture ended with a discussion of Haschgacha Pratis, the notion that nothing happens in this world randomly, it is all guided by G-d. One of the points made was that if you do something for the wrong reasons (for example go to a Torah lecture to further your business interest), you will not get what you want.

OK. a little coincidental... But then, the rabbi tells a story of the Kotzker Rebbe. One of his Chassidim came to him and said "Rabbi, it says that we are supposed to 'rise like a lion to greet the day' but I have trouble doing it". The Rebbe answered - "Of course, how can you rise like a lion, when you sleep like a horse!". So here's the thing. Last week, for some reason I picked up a copy of 'The Promise' which is a book where the Kotzker Rebbe is mentioned not infrequently because of his life in silence and isolation, which figures prominently in the plot of the book. I don't know what possessed me to pick this book up again after twenty years. The last time I read it, I had no idea about the Kotzker Rabbi or Chassidim, or anything related to this... And this morning, I stumbled across this Blog Profile. I'd never heard the phrase about rising like a lion before this morning!

So, part of me says - it's yet another coincidence! But at some point, it becomes a little insane. Is a Higher Power trying to tell me something?


Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

I've had some creepy coincidences in the past. Most of them have to do with people, but boy, if I ever sit down and blog them, no one will even believe me.

March 06, 2006 6:35 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

In a way that is what I was proposing in the first post I wrote. The problem is if people start making up stories, then it becomes useless to try to catalog the coincidences

March 06, 2006 6:50 PM  
Blogger the sabra said...

no such thing as coincidence.
G-d is constantly recreating the world, every nanosecond.
Everything is part of a Master Plan

March 07, 2006 4:26 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Wow, that is wild. I've had a lot of experiences like that, and they surprise me every time. Seems like G-d likes keeping us on our toes. :)

March 07, 2006 7:27 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

That's wild...I just finished 'The Promise' last week! Great book.

March 07, 2006 7:29 PM  
Blogger dbs said...

By an amazing coincidence, I was writing something on the subject of hashgacha, when you posted this. It is a pretty interesting issue; even if you believe completely in the Torah, is it necessary to believe in hashgacha? Certainly, the Tanach is filled with episodes of divine providence. But one could certainly maintain that these are exceptions to the rule. (The rule being that ‘nature’ guides day to day occurrences.) Reward and punishment is a separate issue, that can be doled out in the world to come. Omniscience is a separate issue, God can be all-knowing, but not micro-managing. So, if it’s not an article of faith, why is your Rabbi (and just about everybody else) stating it as theological fact? He could, after all, say that it’s just a possibility, one ‘shitah’ (opinion) of several different views.

And, like so many beliefs, we’ll never be able to prove or disprove this one. Some people read tea leaves, and, sometimes, maybe they’re just tea leaves.

March 08, 2006 1:05 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...


Another coincidence, you writing your post at that time!

I am not at a point where I can even provide explanations. I am still trying to assess whether the observation that there are very unlikely coincidences that happen is a valid observation.

I am a very amateur student of religious philosophy, Jewish or otherwise, so my knowledge of the topic is fairly scant, but it seems to me that certainly there was a disagreement between rationalists such as the Rambam and "non-rationalists" about how transcendent or imanent G-d is.

As far as the rabbi's speech, most speakers aiming at a popular crowd tend not to cloud the issues with complexities and so they don't bring up opposing views. Furthermore, the rabbi was Chassidic and so much more likely to be non-rationalist.

I had always considered myself a very rational person, but at some point if it seems like very unrational things happen to you, you need to re-analyze your assumptions. It is totally possible that it is just a perception of coincidence, but how can one be sure?

I haven't cracked that nut yet!

March 08, 2006 2:16 PM  

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