Gadol Adoneinu v’rav koach, lisvunaso ein mispar.

Great is our Lord and abundant in strength, His understanding is beyond calculation.


At first glance, this pasuk is difficult to understand. What does “calculation” mean? The word “mispar–calculation” seems out of place. The second half of this pasuk also does not seem to connect very well with the first half.

What David HaMelech is saying here is that there is no limit to the number of pieces in the puzzle of Hashem’s hashgachah pratis. His Divine Providence is beyond our understanding. At times, we do see pieces of the puzzle and we are supposed to be highly observant of Hashem’s “Hand” in our daily lives. The more we seek Hashem, the more He allows us to “find” Him. The Midrash likens this to a shadow. “Hashem tzilcha” (T’hilim 121:5) means Hashem conducts Himself like a shadow. If we put one finger out, we see one finger in our shadow. If we put five fingers out, we see five in the shadow. So, too, the more we think about and look for Hashem in our daily lives, the more He will reveal His guidance and involvement to us.

Some opinions go so far as to say that Hashem’s actual involvement in our lives depends on how much we seek Hashem out. As an example, if we rely on vaccines and don’t see Hashem behind the vaccine, then we are subject to the nature of what will naturally occur. But if we recognize that it is Hashem behind the vaccine, then He will guide what reaction is truly best for us from the vaccine. The first opinion is that Hashem is always guiding everything for all of us, and our seeking Hashem is a matter of how much we will be aware of His Presence and involvement. Even according to this first opinion, our emunah will be strengthened significantly if we seek Hashem’s Hand in our lives. According to the second opinion, our seeking will actually determine Hashem’s degree of involvement.

In any case, we must know that we can never believe that we “know” precisely why Hashem did any specific action. Even when the pieces seem to fit into place beautifully, we are likely missing hundreds of other details that we know nothing about, which were set in motion to produce the result. This is what the pasuk means. Understanding Hashem’s hashgachah has no calculation. The amount of interconnecting pieces is limitless.

We can now very well understand the connection of the two halves of our pasuk. Gadol – great – is Hashem’s involvement in our lives, though we can’t ever understand the full picture.

[based on the sefer Nafshi Cholas Ahavasecha, quoting sefer Ramasayim Tzofim on Tanna d’vei Eliyahu Rabbah]


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