Is It Okay to Test God?

Question

I heard someone advise a student at my university that they can say, “I will study five Torah verses this week if You, God, give me an “A” on an exam.” Is someone allowed to say this? If it is allowed, why is it not considered testing G-d? Thanks a lot!

 

, 3 months

Answers

  1. Did he mean that he will study the Torah verses first, and as a result he expects God to reward him with an “A” on the exam? If so, this is considered testing G-d and is forbidden. (One may test G-d only in regard to giving tithes and charity.)

    Or did he mean that if he gets an “A” he will then study five Torah verses? If so, this is not testing God. Rather, it’s like a conditional vow. It’s like saying: “If I get an A, then I vow to study five verses. But if not, then not.”

    We find in the Torah that Jacob made a conditional vow: “Jacob took a vow saying: If God will be with me… give me bread to eat and clothes to wear, and I return in peace to my father’s house… then this stone which I have set up as a pillar shall become a house of God….” (Genesis 28:21-2).

    However, a person should not make vows, because the punishment for breaking a vow is very severe. Furthermore, making a vow smacks of arrogance, like saying, “I’m so perfect that, not only do I fulfill 100% of my obligations to God, but I’m even taking on extra obligations!”

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team