Looking to the Future

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March 10 2005
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Looking to the Future

The Talmud (Berakhot 10a) relates Yeshayahu’s criticism of Chizkiyahu, who declined to have children because he saw into the future that his children would be unworthy. In response, he is told that he has no business with the secrets of G-d, and it is only his responsibility to fulfill that which he is commanded.

The Sma”k (#10) cites this passage as evidence that there is a positive commandment not to attempt to divine the future, as indicated by the Talmud (Pesachim 113b) and as counted by the Ramban (mitzvot aseh sh’shachach haRambam, 8). R. Natan Gestetner (Resp. L’Horot Natan VI, 78) questions this proof, as one might limit its application to situations where one is neglecting religious obligations because of that pursuit. One who attempts to divine the future without compromising observance, however might be in a different category.

In addressing this question, R. Gestetner makes reference to a comment of R. Yonatan Eibshutz (Ya’arot D’vash, II, 14). Seemingly, Chizkiyahu was right; if his children would really be unworthy, his decision seems to have been wise. However, the responsibility here is to believe that the future is G-d’s alone to decide and to change according to His will, while humans are bidden to fulfill their responsibilities. This is, indeed, how the Ramban interprets the commandment in his exposition.

Gemara:

Collections: Rabbi Feldman Mini Shiur (Daf)

References: Berachot: 10a Pesachim: 113b  

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