In accordance with the doctrine of free will, “R. Eleazar said: From the Torah, the Neviim (Prophets) and the Kesuvim (Writings) it may be shown that one is allowed to follow the road he wishes to pursue” (Makkos 10b). Rashi on that piece explains that ‘the way you wish to travel [Hashem will allow it whether for good or for bad].’ Rashi explains in the pesukim of the Kesuvim where the gemara quoted a pasuk in Mishlei: “If he is of the scorners, he will [be allowed to] speak scorn” (Mishlei 3:34), that if a person wants to associate with scoffers, Hashem will not stop him or her. We see from here that Hashem allows us free choice; he doesn’t actively help us, at least on the wrong path, but he passively allows us to make mistakes if we want. Hashem, though, does help us try to find the right path when we are searching for it. (Click here for Hebrew text.)
For example, there is a Ramban by the mitzvah of teshuva [repentance] that says that one who comes to purify himself, Hashem will help him (See Chidushei HaLev Devarim 30:6, page 175).
In a similar vein, the Chovos HaLevavos at the beginning of the Gate of Trust in Hashem says: “Among its benefits to him in religious life is tranquility of soul in reliance of Hashem, may He be exalted, just as the servant is bound to rely on his master. For if a person does not put his trust in Hashem, he places his trust in what is other than Hashem; and whoever trusts in what is other than Hashem, Hashem removes His providence from him and leaves him in the hands of whatever he trusts in.” The Lev Tov adds that one who has complete trust in Hashem has no worries whatsoever, and it is impossible to be free from any worries unless one trusts in only Hashem. For if not for this trust in Hashem, he would have to trust in other people, who are finite and imperfect like him, or he would have to trust in himself, his wealth, brains, or strength, or the like, all of which have their fallacies and reasons to be worried. But with Hashem, who is all knowing, and is by definition completely good and kind, as well as omnipotent – there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Yet if the individual is not holding on a level of complete trust in Hashem, Hashem removes His focus of security on that person, and allows that person to trust in whatever he feels most comfortable with. This is because a person must always trust in something, but it is at the risk of it being in the hands of mere mortals. (Click here for Hebrew text.)
In the beginning of this week’s Torah portion of Vayakhel, the Rabbeinu Bachye observes that the first pasuk says: “These are the things that Hashem has commanded to do them” (Shemos 35:1). Then in the next pasuk Hashem says: “Six days work shall be done for you.” This is coming to teach us that the work on the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was commanded by Hashemto be done for six days during the week but not on Shabbos, for work on the Mishkan did not push off Shabbos. The reason why the pasuk says “work shall be done for you” and not “you shall do work” is to show us the lesson that when the Jews do the will of Hashem their work will be done for them by others. And when they don’t do His will, they will do their own work, but not only that, but the work of others will be done by them as well. This is based on a Mechilta in the beginning of Ki Sisa and summarized in the Mechilta in the beginning of Vayakhel. The Rabbeinu Bachye concludes that when the Mechilta says “You will do it” it implies even [jobs of] others as well. (Click here for Hebrew text)
There seems to be a common thread going through all the above quoted Chazals, that being, that if one fully embraces Hashem with complete trust, and is completely doing Hashem’s will, then he is in Hashem’s “hands;” he has no worries; everything will get done for Him while he is doing Hashem’s will, and Hashem will help Him stay on the right path. However, consequently, if one decides to take their own path, or trusts in something or someone other than Hashem (and this implies even a slight varying from complete trust in Hashem), then he compromises this foolproof protection plan which he had with Hashem. He then has to rely upon who and what he decided to trust in, albeit this might vary in degrees depending on the correlation of trust in Hashem and others. This can also be applied to doing the will of Hashem, for if one deviates, even ever so slightly, from Hashem’s will, he then has to start fending for himself, and not only that, he might even be forced into taking on other people’s work as well, presumably all within various levels, depending on how far off or how close one stays to doing Hashem’s will. The Maharsha illustrates this concept by the Gemara in Sanhedrin 99b which says: “R. Eleazar said: Every man is born to toil, as it is written, ‘Because man is born to toil’ (Iyov 5:7). Now, I do not know whether to toil by mouth or by hand, but when it is said, for his mouth crave it of him, I may deduce that toil by mouth is meant. Yet I still do not know whether for toil in the Torah or in [secular] conversation, but when it is said, ‘This book of the Torah shall not depart out of your mouth’ (Yehoshua 1:8), I conclude that one was created to labor in the Torah.” The Maharsha there says that the gemara originally thought that one must work because any set time of Torah learning which isn’t accompanied by a job will in the end fall apart. However the Maharsha explains that the gemara concludes that one does not need a job, rather as mentioned in Brachos 35a, the original righteous people had Torah learning as their job, and any work they needed would be done for them by itself (somehow or another), and this was how creation from the beginning was meant to be (there is a medrish that states that before the sin, Adam was lying on a couch basking in Hashem’s Holy Presence and angels feeding him fruit). This was until Adam sinned and was punished with “the sweat of your brow shall you eat bread.” We see clearly that in an ideal world, where everyone is doing the will of Hashem to the utmost degree, everything will get done for them.
However, the reality is that we are not perfect, yet Hashem still showers us with kindness, even when we are doing the wrong thing. For example, it use to be in the times of the Beis HaMikdash if a person did a sin by accident he was able to receive atonement by bringing a sin-offering which is an animal brought as a sacrifice instead of him. If he did it on purpose, he was still showered with kindness, depending on the severity of the sin he might have to pay back the victim, for example if he stole, and in that case Hashem even rewards him with a mitzvah for returning the stolen object, or he might get lashes or even the death penalty, but all these are atonements which will help cleanse his soul before getting into the World to Come where he will bask in the Presence of Hashem, farther or closer, brighter or dimmer, depending on how many mitzvos one did and the quality or effort he put into them. Even if he does not get the atonement in this world, and he must suffer punishment in the next world, G-D forbid, it is still a kindness Hashem does, because Hashem is bleaching out all the sin and filth one stained his soul with in this world in order to be ready to receive his reward in the Next World.
Even Hashem letting us lead our life according to what we choose for good or for bad is a kindness because if we are not ready to fully embrace Hashem, he doesn’t force us and he wants us to find His way on our own, when we are ready, albeit dropping us hints to return to Him all the time. So to by allowing us to be able to trust in other things if we aren’t on the level to fully trust in Him is a kindness because granted we are left in the hands of mere mortals but at least we have something to trust in. Imagine having nothing to trust in and just groping for thin air because one isn’t ready to fully trust in Hashem, it would be even more depressing then trusting in anything else other than just Hashem.
However where is the kindness in forcing us to work for ourselves and doing work for others if we don’t completely do His will?
It would seem that there must be some kind of kindness in that as well. The simple understanding of the pasuk in Iyov quoted above, “For man is born to toil,” the Metzudas Dovid says, means that a person was created to work for his food not to take from others that which he didn’t earn or toil for. This means that if a person cannot reach the heights of doing Hashem’s will as described by the Maharsha above, where toiling in Torah and doing His will earns the right for his needs to be automatically taken care of somehow or another, then he must earn his pay some other way. If Hashem would allow him to get his needs without earning it, it would naturally be a tremendous embarrassment, so out of Hashem’s kindness, Hashem made it that if we don’t always do his will then we will have to work for ourselves and others in order to earn our livelihood and not be embarrassed of accepting freebies.
Hashem created this world with pure kindness and sustains it in the same manner, everything, whether it seems good or bad to the human eye is imbued with Hashem’s stamp of kindness in one form or another.