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On another website, someone quoted the Rambam:

I do not believe that it is through the interference of Divine Providence that a certain leaf drops [from a tree], nor do I hold that when a certain spider catches a certain fly, that this is the direct result of a special decree and will of God in that moment; it is not by a particular Divine decree that the spittle of a certain person moved, fell on a certain gnat in a certain place, and killed it; nor is it by the direct will of God that a certain fish catches and swallows a certain worm on the surface of the water. In all these cases the action is, according to my opinion, entirely due to chance, as taught by Aristotle.
— Moreh Nevuchim 3:17, Friedländer translation

Basically the Rambam holds that mundane things that have no connection with humans are not ordained by Heaven, but things that happen to Humans are.

This seems like a great departure from what I understand to be Divine Providence. Is this universally accepted?

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related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/16615/… –  Menachem Jul 31 '12 at 1:07
@msh Nice edit. –  Double AA Jul 31 '12 at 3:42
deepThinker, welcome to Mi Yodeya and thank you for bringing your interesting question here! Allow me to suggest you register your account to gain full access to the capabilities of the site. I trust someone will provide a sourced, deep, thought out answer soon enough! –  Double AA Jul 31 '12 at 3:44
deepThinker Why did you add that link back in when the entire quote is already in the question? –  Double AA Jul 31 '12 at 12:57
The copyright doesn't apply to the quoted Rambam, which is from the (out of copyright) Friedländer translation. Quoting work A in copyrighted work B doesn't protect A under B's copyright. Ping @DoubleAA. –  msh210 Jul 31 '12 at 15:17

2 Answers 2

Some time before the 18th of Av, 1943, The Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote a letter to R' Moshe Dov Ber Rivkin, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva Mesivta Torah Vodaath.

That letter is translated into English in a book called "Led By G-d's Hand".

In the letter, the Lubavitcher Rebbe outlines "An overview of the different conceptions advanced by the Torah sages preceding the Baal Shem Tov, and that advanced by the Baal Shem Tov".

Some of the opinions that are similar to the Rambam include the Shomer Emunim (written by a student of the Ramaz, and cited in Shoresh Mitzvas HaTefillah, sec. 34) and the Ramak (Ein Kol Tamar 5, ch. 1)

You can read the letter for an in-depth analysis of these and other opinions on Divine Providence.

It is important to note, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe points out:

This must be said: Even according to the opinions which state that Divine providence does not control inanimate objects, plants, and animals agree that G-d knows all the minute particulars concerning these creations, as the Ikkarim, Maamar 4, ch. 7, states: "We are forced to say that His knowledge encompasses every entity found in the world and every event that takes place. Nothing -- neither small nor great -- is beyond Him. Nevertheless, He does not watch over (animals) to grant them reward or punishment for their deeds. Instead, He watches over their particulars insomuch as they are part of the general category, protecting the existence of the species, but nothing beyond that.

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Thanks for the great points –  deepThinker Jul 31 '12 at 12:32

All of human beings decisions (except in extreme situations) are not ordained by heaven because all humans have "bechirah" free will. There is also a Rashi in Masechta Sotah an daf beis amud alef which says that "Hakol biyiday shomayim chutz miyiras shomayim" that means that heaven knows and somewhat controls everything except for your fear of heaven (and how you act about it which is most of the actions you do), as Rashi states further it says these things that heaven decides are if he will be strong or weak, smart or not so, and things like that, but they are not actions like doing a mitzvah or ch"v an aveirah. So now, from this Rashi we see that mundane things about people are decided by heaven. Now what is considered a mundane thing, the weather maybe, that is not controlled by humans so now we bring in the concept of "tevah" the way Hashem programmed the world to run, Hashem may not actively control the weather but it was set in the blueprints of the world that when there is a lot of evaporated water in the clouds, it rain and if its cold enough, it snows, these things are not actively ordained by Hashem but they were pre-set by Him. As was said in the Rambam that was in the question, a spider catching a fly... that it is not controlled by heaven but it was made in the blueprints that spiders will catch flies and other things like that.

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