The Butterfly Effect – the Spiritual Aspect of Cause and Effect in Judaism

The Butterfly Effect is a theory associated with Edward Lorenz. He states that the path of a Tornado and slight variations can be caused by the flap of a butterfly wings.

In Torah we believe in a Physical world and a parallel Spiritual world. There is laws of “nature” in both. We decide what happens in this world through our actions. G-d gave us Freedom of Choice to Choose doing good or bad – and responsibility for the consequences.

Let’s say a person gives charity to a poor man. He creates an angel that is a Defendant. This defendant angel will defend the person and possibly the whole world from negative outcomes due to this one action. G-d will then decide on a course of action in the Spiritual world that will be effectuated in the Physical world. Let’s say G-d will then decide – because this person did this good deed all of the people in a certain town in the United States will be given food. His act caused a spiritual outcome that affected the physical world.

It also happens for negative deeds.

Stories abound about this. The Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers (Chapter 4 – Mishna 2)  Mentions it :

Good causes Good & Evil, Evil
2. Ben A’zzai says: “Run to [do] a simple Mitzvah (like for a weighty one) & run away from the sin for a Mitzvah causes a Mitzvah & a sin causes a sin; for the compensation of a Mitzvah is a Mitzvah & the compensation for a sin is a sin.”

In the Time of Baba Sali – a man who was careful about guarding his eyes from looking at woman – saved an entire bus of people.

In Europe – once a person was killed in a small town. It was very unusual. Someone had a dream – that that week the Town Rabbi became very angry and it had a domino effect causing this murder.

We can understand this phenomena as cause and effect or spiritual consequences. In the second story, it is possible that the Rabbi – got angry at an individual – and that individual vented off his steam on someone else and the third person – went out to kill someone. Or it is possible to explain that the Rabbi’s anger – which was a transgression – caused the decree in Heaven that someone in his town was to be killed.

Our actions are meaningful. Our words are meaningful. Our thoughts are meaningful. A Jew that has a thought to do something good is credited as if he did a positive act. Some people who have a thought to do something negative – are also credited as if they did it. In the Hagada quoting the text that we say when we bring the first fruits in Devarim / Deut (26:5) – we say “An Aramean – Who killed our forefather [Jacob]  – caused us to descend to Egypt.” Who was this Aramean? It was Lavan – the father of Rachel – his wife. Why does it say he “killed our forefather?” because he tought to do it – it is credited to him as if he did do it.

A Jew who studies Torah gives the world life. He causes it to remain intact and brings great goodness to the world. If the Non-Jews knew the great consequences of the Jews learning Torah – they would appoint guardians over us to assure that we study Torah.

This is also the concept of Middah Keneged Middah / Measure for measure. The good one does (and the opposite) eventually returns to him or her.

Do good. Get good. Do good for the world.

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