May 13, 2011

Clashing Beliefs

If you took a poll among frum people and asked them whether they believe Murphy's Law ("Anything that can go wrong will go wrong") to be true, what do you think they would say?

I've heard people refer to to Murphy's Law and although it might be done jokingly, I think they believe it to be true to some extent.  How does this fit with what we believe? Does it take into account R' Bachya ibn Pekuda's Chovos Ha'Levavos, Shaar ha'Bitachon? He writes:

If we knew we had a friend who:

1) never ceases worrying about us

2) is able to fulfill our wishes

3) knows our exact needs and what is good for us

4) controls all the people and powers in the world and does not allow any of them to harm or benefit us without his consent

5) is overflowing with kindness and compassion even if we are undeserving

we would completely relax and stop worrying about ANYTHING.

Hashem is merciful and gracious; He neither slumbers nor sleeps, He is your Father, He made you, Hashem is good to all and His mercy is on all His creations etc.

Can you refer to Murphy's Law and simultaneously take "gam zu l'tova" seriously?


  1. To me Murphy's law goes like this:
    On the day that I need to go to the airport, the traffic will be backed up on the highway, so therefore, I will leave extra early and take a less busy road so that I will have a better chance of making my flight. It does not negate the belief that if Hashem wants me to make the flight, I will make the flight. It merely means that Hashem does not want us to rely on miracles so I make sure the car has a spare and there is gas in the tank.
    Because we all know that things could go wrong, we take that spare change of clothes, rain bonnet, etc.

  2. There is a difference between planning ahead and expecting that things will go wrong.

  3. It is just that most of us have had the experience that the mishap that we don't plan for is the thing that goes wrong. We have learned not to travel without a spare change of clothes on hand because we have been stuck in the past. Because there are so many things that could go wrong when planning a trip, a simcha, a yomtov, it is better to be prepared for those possibilities, especially if these are things that commonly go wrong. Because most of us have gone into yomtov without baby tylenol and then, bingo, baby has a fever, we think in terms of those possibilities.