|Artwork: Beastmaster Ascension, by Alex Horley-Orlandelli|
Parashas Eikev: Protection from Beasts
Parashas Eikev begins with Moshe Rabbeinu preparing Bnei Yisrael for the conquest of Eretz Yisrael. He compares the imminent defeat of the Canaanite nations to the events of Yetzias Mitzrayim:
Perhaps you will say in your heart, "These nations are more numerous than I; how will I be able to drive them out?" Do not fear them! You shall remember what Hashem, your God, did to Paroh and to all of Mitzrayim. The great tests that your eyes saw, and the signs, the wonders, the strong hand, and the outstretched arm with which Hashem, your God, took you out - so shall Hashem, your God, do to all the peoples before whom you fear. It is clear that the conquest of Eretz Yisrael will be aided by hashgachah pratis (personal Divine supervision). That being said, what are we to make of Moshe's subsequent remark?
Hashem, your God, will thrust these nations from before you little by little; you will not be able to annihilate them quickly, lest the beasts of the field increase against you. Wait, what? Hashem is going to help Bnei Yisrael to miraculously defeat the mighty and numerous Canaanite nations, but He's going to "take it slow" due to the threat of wild animals? Just a few sentences earlier, Moshe reminded Bnei Yisrael of the miracles and wonders of Yetzias Mitzrayim, in which Hashem summoned hordes of wild animals to descend upon the Egyptians - and yet, when it comes time to help Bnei Yisrael settle the Land, the wild animals are a problem? Why doesn't Hashem just miraculously ward off the beasts of the field so that the land can be conquered and settled in the shortest time possible?
The answer to this question is the subject of a machlokes between Rashi and the Ralbag. Rashi writes:
"lest the beasts of the field increase against you": But isn't it true that if they perform the will of Hashem they will not have cause to fear beasts, for it says, "And the beast of the field will be at peace with you"?  Rather, it was revealed before Him that they were going to sin. According to Rashi, Bnei Yisrael should ideally have been on the level of righteousness to warrant hashgachic protection from the beasts of the field. However, Hashem knew that Bnei Yisrael were going to sin, and would not be on a high enough level to merit such perfection.
Ralbag takes a completely different approach. He explains that this pasuk is teaching us a yesod (fundamental principle). He writes:
This teaches us that even though Hashem is in control to do whatever He wills and desires, He nevertheless will seek out the most suitable causes possible, and He will not create a miracle unless necessity dictates it, for He doesn't hate nature, since He is the One Who set it up. Thus, He will only go against [nature] at a time when it is necessary, and He will only undermine it in the most minimal manner possible.
It is for this reason that it was said, "Hashem, your God, will thrust these nations from before you little by little; you will not be able to annihilate them quickly, lest the beasts of the field increase against you." Even though Hashem is able to destroy them quickly and to protect Yisrael from the beasts who increase upon them, He prefers not to do this, since it is possible to enable Yisrael to reach their goal in another way (i.e. by defeating the nations little by little). According to the Ralbag, Hashem is "reluctant" (so to speak) to interfere with the laws of nature. The universe and its laws are Hashem's creations. They carry out His will and manifest His glory. Sefer Tehilim is replete with references to this idea: "The heavens proclaim the glory of God, and the firmament tells of His handiwork," "For You have gladdened me, Hashem, with Your deeds; at Your handiwork I sing glad song. How great are Your deeds, Hashem; exceedingly profound are Your thoughts," "How great are Your works, Hashem; with wisdom You made them all!"  For this reason, Hashem will only intervene in the laws of nature when absolutely necessary.
This machlokes between Rashi and Ralbag reveals different assumptions about Hashem's role in the conquest of Eretz Yisrael. Rashi maintains that Hashem would have protected Bnei Yisrael if they had been on a high enough level, whereas Ralbag maintains that He would not have protected them, no matter how righteous they were.
What is the root of this machlokes? I have no idea. It might stem from their differing views on hashgachah pratis, or their different ideas about how miracles work, or their different theories of nevuah, or their different ideas about the nature of the conquest of Eretz Yisrael, or their different premises about God's knowledge, or a number of other possibilities. I can only speculate.
But even though we might not be able to understand the conceptual basis of this machlokes, we can gain a general insight from the existence of such a machlokes: knowing how Hashem operates is not a simple matter. I've encountered many religious Jews who feel comfortable making statements about how God operates - in their own lives, or in the fate of the Jewish nation. Every time I encounter a machlokes like this one, I become more and more convinced of what Yeshayahu ha'Navi said: "For My thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not My ways - says Hashem. As high as the heavens over the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." 
If Rashi and Ralbag can disagree on whether Hashem would protect Bnei Yisrael from animals while simultaneously helping them to miraculously conquer the mighty Canaanite nations, then average Jews like us need to do a lot more learning before we make confident statements about Hashem's role in our everyday lives.
 Sefer Devarim 7:17-19
 ibid. 7:22
 Sefer Iyov 5:23
 Rabbeinu Shlomo ben Yitzchak (Rashi), Commentary on Sefer Devarim 7:22, d"h pen tirbeh alecha chayas ha'sadeh
 Rabbeinu Levi ben Gershom (Ralbag / Gersonides), Commentary on Sefer Devarim Parashas Eikev, ha'toeles ha'revii
 Sefer Tehilim 19:2; 92:5-6; 104:24
 Sefer Yeshaya 55:7-8