Mishlei Appendix 03 – Control
Free Will of the Mind
“To man are the arrangements of the heart,
but from Hashem is the tongue’s utterance.”
[Mishlei 16-01] Speech. The truth is that Hashem did not relinquish control of the world when He created it. Whatever happens is governed by His will and there is no such thing pure “chance.” And yet, we have been given the mysterious power of free will. Even when we decide to do something and then go ahead and do it, that is only because Hashem has enabled our limbs to carry it out and nobody one is stopping us. It is important for us to ask for Hashem’s help in finding the right words and language to express what we are thinking about. If Hashem enables our speech organs as we hoped, the words will be formed and sounded.
“Commit your actions to Hashem
and your thoughts will be right.”
[Mishlei 16-03] Awareness. This proverb distinguishes a person’s thoughts from the resulting actions. The person is advised to be aware that once he “acts” he is actually giving up control of this deed to Hashem. For it is Hashem that will be actually carrying out the action, for better or worse. That awareness should serve as a restraint affecting what the person is thinking as he makes his decision.
“A man’s heart determines his way,
but Hashem directs his steps.”
[Mishlei 16-09] Accomplishment. No matter how much thought the person has put into a proposed plan of action, the actual implementation depends completely on the will of Hashem. This means that a person needs to appeal to Hashem for success in any initiative that he undertakes, whether it is earning his livelood, raising his children, baking a cake, or anything else. He must be aware of his dependence on Hashem with every step he takes.
“One who thinks through a planned action will find a good result.
Fortunate is he who trusts in Hashem to provide the right outcome.”
[Mishlei 16-20] Planning. This proverb advises a person planning a project to carefully consider the implications. If he does so, he is likely to meet with success. However, despite the best intentions, the definition of success is up to Hashem. If a man’s trust in Hashem is sufficiently great, he will be satisfied with the result.
“A smelting pot for silver and a crucible for gold,
but Hashem assesses hearts.”
[Mishlei 17-03] Privacy. The world that Hashem created exists today only because He is constantly renewing it. That means He is fully aware at all times of what is going on inside our deepest thoughts. The feeling we have that no one is looking over our shoulder is one of the miracles of human existence and makes it possible for us to exercise free will. Only in this way do we have the freedom to choose what is right, while rejecting what is wrong.
“The steps of man are from Hashem,
for what does a man understand of his own way?”
[Mishlei 20-24] Steps. The physical capacity to carry out a man’s decision comes from Hashem. If in His ultimate wisdom, He wishes a different turn of events, He has only to prevent the man physically from carrying out his decision. Since human perception is limited, the man may feel frustrated at this blocking of his will. Thus, he may not understand why his way must be other than his original intent.
“The heart of a king is like streams of water in the hand of Hashem;
He inclines it in whichever direction He desires.”
[Mishlei 21-01] Kings. No matter how much thought a person has put into a proposed plan of action, the actual implementation depends completely on the will of Hashem. This means that Hashem reserves the right to intervene and make the changes He finds necessary. Furthermore, there is special significance to the changes He makes to the plans and decisions of world leaders, such as kings, who exert authority over large numbers of people.