Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

9 Kislev 5761 - December 6, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
With Pure Faith

by L. Jungerman

"And she said: With great wrestling have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed."

The Malbim uses this verse to whisk us right into the great gates of faith. He comments: "Naftulei (wrestling) is derived from the word tzomid posil, a covering bound upon [a vessel], that is, a covering and seal. Rachel wished to say that the matters between her sister and herself, that is, why she has brought forth children and not I, are bound up with Hashem. It is a hidden matter which a mortal cannot understand. But I, she said, prevailed -- I suffered my lot with joy for [I know that] Hashem is righteous and His judgments are true and straight."

When times are difficult and one suffers, when one's eyes are lifted to Hashem for succor, then aside from what we are lacking at that time, we are tormented by the question: Why? Why me? Why does the next person have it good while I must suffer so bitterly? Am I any the less worthy?

This soul-searching is tortuous. Why are others able to marry off their children with ease? Why are most normal couples blessed with children? Without mental anguish? And why are others blessed with good health, prosperity and so on?

It is not a begrudging of what others have, but agonizing pain over what we lack and the pain we must undergo before we see things go well, or enjoy nachas. We see others rejoice and cannot help feeling that twinge: May they be truly be blessed in their lot, Hashem, but how happy we would be to share those same blessings.

These are terrible thoughts that can only be arrested by the emotional release of tears gathering in the corner of one's eyes.

Here we are presented with a picture of how Rochel Imeinu dealt with this terrible suffering. She was the mainstay of Yaakov Ovinu's household. It all revolved around her and was really established for her sake, even though her father's treachery changed things and caused others to enter the household as partners. Righteous and humble as she was, not only did she not take steps to prevent it, but she even promoted it with her own doing. She sacrificed her entire future for her sister to prevent her being shamed.

And after all this -- she was the one from whom children were withheld. Even the maidservants bore children; only she remained barren, subordinate.

Who would gather up her shame and rescue her from ignominy? She had no portion of the blessing whatsoever. How could she have remained sane in the face of this mental anguish? What tremendous pain she must have experienced!

Rochel mourns for children. Give me sons, else I shall die. And yet, she has no questions. Naftulei Elokim -- this is beyond me, a hidden matter. I cannot presume to understand why my sister has borne children and not I. This, only Hashem knows and it is not for me to question.

Aside from the mission a person has in this world, he also serves as Hashem's ax, so to speak, a tool or medium through which Hashem carries out His will and His master design in this world. Hashem provides each person with his personal needs, not as an end but as a means for his carrying out a particular purpose in this world. These are known to Him alone.

Who knows? Perhaps I am put in this world to suffer in silence, with acceptance? Perhaps this is my only particular test and challenge in life? Perhaps by doing so, I will be a shining example of faith and acceptance to others, a source of Kiddush Hashem?

We don't know the intricate reasons behind reality in this world. This is known only to Hashem, before Whom all is revealed and Who reviews the generations of the world in one blinking. We have no inkling.

Rochel suffered, and when Naftoli was born through her intercession, in her name, she was able to sum up her period of suffering as it was beginning to wane, and she said: I prevailed. I withstood the test! I suffered this stage but accepted it with joy, for I know that Hashem is righteous and His judgments are true!

The Ramchal explains that sometimes suffering comes upon a person to rouse him to repent, to atone for his sins. Sometimes, however, Hashem visits suffering upon a person for the benefit of the world, so that he will atone for others. Who are we to fathom which is which? Or why it must be so? How difficult it must be for a person, in the throes of his suffering, when he does not know why he is being afflicted: whether to improve him, or to provide atonement for sins, or because this is Hashem's divine plan for reasons which he cannot understand in this world. It is this measure of uncertainty which greatly augments and compounds a person's suffering.

In Daas Tvunos he writes (p. 168-170) that there are some people who are fated to receive bounty in great measure, since this is part of the divine design of the world. Others are fated for lesser good in this world. And these separate destinies have nothing to do with their worth, goodness, effort.

This is how Hashem saw fit to apportion lots in this world. This lot is good for one, the other lot will benefit the other person, and each will be playing his or her particular role in life in their respective circumstances.

What mortal can presume to understand this intricate apportionment? Sometimes, destiny is at play, sometimes merit and reward. Man cannot guess or reason which is which and must remain frustrated whenever he attempts to understand these unfathomable workings of Hashem.

But, concludes Ramchal, whoever is true to Hashem must establish a strong pillar of faith within himself; he must know that whatever Hashem does, no matter how or what, it is surely true and just. There is no injustice or illogic; it is just we who fall so short of understanding. Not like the wicked who question Hashem's ways.

A person must stand on guard to persevere in serving Hashem unquestioningly, wholesomely, with pure trust. He must accept everything Hashem metes out to him with equanimity, the bad along with the good. Only then can he be called tomim, pure, perfect, innocent, unquestioning, blindly trusting.

"I have wrestled the wrestling of Hashem -- which are hidden - - and have prevailed."

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