Acts of G-d

Friday, 22 December, 2023 - 7:58 am

Insurance companies usually worship the mighty dollar. But, for certain events, they become earnestly religious and consider G-d to be the responsible party.

Ever reviewed the fine print of your homeowner’s insurance policy? Likely, there is a clause in it addressing – and possibly excluding coverage for – “acts of G-d.”

Acts of G-d are usually defined as events outside of human control which cannot be prevented. Examples include tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, volcanoes, severe hail, earthquakes and floods.

Do we believe in “acts of G-d”? Should certain occurrences be designated as different than others?


When Yoseph finally reveals his identity to his dumbstruck brothers, he tells them, “But now do not be sad, and let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to preserve life that G-d sent me before you.”


Yoseph’s exceptional anger management notwithstanding, why did he believe that G-d was responsible for this? Weren’t his brothers the ones that chose – of their own free will – to sell him into slavery? How is G-d responsible for their poor choices?

The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything that happens – good or bad – is divinely ordained. Yes, my neighbor may have been nasty to me – and he will be held accountable for his behavior. But, what happened to me is part of my personal destiny.  For some reason, perhaps known only to G-d Himself, this was supposed to happen to me. I may not understand why, but I believe that He is involved in every detail of my life.

Exhibit A for this type of faith is Yoseph.  He did not downplay his brothers’ culpability in selling him into slavery (see last week’s parsha for the great lengths he went to determine their change of heart). Yet, he attributed his personal journey – including 12 difficult years in prison – as divinely ordained.

In Jewish tradition, all acts are “acts of G-d.” Some may be more obvious than others. Some may be easier for us to wrap our minds around. But, ultimately, G-d knows what is best for me.

With Yoseph, this theme rings true in the story’s ending. But even in instances that doesn’t have a rosy conclusion, and even when others are responsible – it always remains part of my destiny.


My insurance company has its own definitions on acts of G-d, but I will take a cue from Yoseph.  The next time I am tempted to impatience or anger, I will be better served to learn from Yoseph. If I remember that G-d plays a role in everything that happens to me, I just might prevail.

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