Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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12 Iyar 5762 - April 24, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
When There are Unnatural Troubles . . .

by Mordecai Plaut

HaRav Yonasan Eibeschitz explains how one can know if the troubles he is experiencing are a message backed by love from Heaven or a frightening and terrible withdrawal and abandonment of him by Providence.

There is no doubt that the attacks we are experiencing are far from the normal course of human affairs. Though we do not see the Arab suicide bombers as studies in mesiras nefesh as some do -- we see them rather as low creatures who have no appreciation of any human life including their own -- still it is clear that the actions of the bombers and of the society that supports them are not within the bounds of normalcy. Neither is the response of some Europeans who dress up as suicide bombers at rallies to express their sympathy.

Yet this state of affairs was itself pointed to for comfort by HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein speaking for HaRav Eliashiv at the recent Yom Iyun of the Beis Medrash Lehalochoh Behityashvut directed by HaRav Yosef Efrati.

The fourth psalm begins: "A song (mizmor) for Dovid when he was fleeing from his son Avsholom." In Brochos (7) the gemora asks: "It should say `a lament for Dovid'! Rabi Shimon ben Avisholom said, `It is like someone who had a serious debt. Before he pays it off he is sad, but after he has paid it off he is relieved and happy. So, too, HaKodosh Boruch Hu had told Dovid, `I will set up against you an evil from your own house,' and Dovid was worried that a slave or a mamzer who would have no mercy on him was intended. When he saw that it was Avsholom he was happy and sang."

HaRav Yonoson Eibeschitz zt"l asked: Why was Dovid so happy when he saw that the "evil" was coming from his son? After all Avsholom tried to kill him.

He answers that there are two kinds of judgments from Heaven. In one the troubles descend upon him in order to cleanse and purify the person of his sins. In the other kind of judgment, the person simply gets punished; he is abandoned by Providence and left to the cruel devices of blind fate.

How can one tell the difference between these two? How can he know if the troubles he is experiencing are a message backed by love from Heaven or a frightening and terrible withdrawal and abandonment of him by Providence?

The crucial difference is in the types of troubles and the way they unfold. If the woes are apparently part of normal, natural processes and appear to be nothing worse than "bad luck," then it means that Divine Providence has become alienated from the person and he or she has simply become subject to the vagaries of blind fortune.

However, if the troubles are strange and unusual, and appear totally absurd according to the normal standards of what happens, then one is forced to conclude that they were sent by Heaven with complete direction from Above.

Therefore, as long as Dovid Hamelech did not see what the evil was that was to arise from his home, he was concerned, fearing that he might have lost the supervision of Providence. But when he saw that his own son rose against him he was relieved, for that was something totally at odds with normal, natural feelings. Dovid Hamelech knew that Hashgochoh had not abandoned him and he was confident of Hashem's great mercy.

The recent attacks we experience in our Holy Land -- which fly in the face of the normal instinct of self-preservation -- and around the world -- which totally leave the normal processes of reason -- teach us that Einei Hashem are trained upon us and He has not left us to the vagaries of nature. These are all His decrees and thus with teshuvoh, tefilloh, and tachanunim we can merit the middas horachamim and many blessings.

Omein, kein yehi rotzon.

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