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Steadfast Faith in the Face of Tragedy

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By the Grace of G-d

3rd of Nissan, 5738

Brooklyn, N.Y.

 

Mr. [name redacted],

Birmingham, Mich. 48010

Greeting and Blessing:

I am in receipt of your letter in which you write about happenings in the family and ask why such untoward happenings did occur, though you find nothing in your conduct and activities that would justify them.

I surely do not have to point out to you that the question of “why do the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper?” is a very old one, and was already asked by Moshe Rabeinu who received the Torah from the G-d and handed it over to each and every Jew as an everlasting inheritance for all times. As you probably also know, the whole book of Iyov (Job) is devoted to this problem and it has been dealt with ever since.

The point of the answer given by our Sages, as it has often been explained at length, is by way of the example of a small child who does not understand why his father who is such a wise and kind person sometimes acts in a way which causes a child pain and tears. It would not surprise any person that the child is not in a position to understand the ways of his father although, be it noted, only a number of years separate them in age, and also in intelligence. At the same time, the child instinctively feels and knows that his father loves him and surely it is everything for his benefit, and not for the benefit of any other child or for his own benefit, since it would be unthinkable that a father who has a one and only son, cause pain to his child for the benefit of a stranger or for his own benefit.

If this is so in the case of a child and his father, where the distinction between them is only relative, in terms of age and intelligence, as mentioned above, how much more so in the case of a created being and the Creator, where the distinction is absolute and unbridgeable. Indeed, it would have been most surprising if a human being could understand the way of G-d, except to the extent that G-d Himself, in His kindness, has revealed some aspects of His Divine Providence and in a necessarily very limited way. Moreover, our Torah, Toras Chayim and Toras Emes, assures us that when a Jew strengthens his bitochon and trust in G-d, Whose benevolent Divine Providence extends to each and everyone individually, and Who is the essence of Goodness, and it is the nature of the Good to do good – this in itself opens new insights into a better understanding of G-d’s ways and at the same time speeds G-d’s blessings in the kind of good that is revealed and evident.

And, as mentioned earlier, this fact that Moshe Rabbeinu already pondered this question, did not in the least affect his simple faith in G-d and did not in any way affect his observance of the Torah and mitzvos in his daily life and conduct, and this is also what he bequeathed to each and every Jew in all future generations.

It is surely also unnecessary to point out that this question that might arise under certain circumstances in the life of an individual can just as well be asked in connection with the long-suffering history of our people in exile for the past 1900 years and more. Yet, here too, despite the persecutions, martyrdom and suffering, our people tenaciously clung to the Torah and mitzvos as their only way of life and it has not weakened their belief in and confident hope of the ultimate true and complete geula through our righteous Moshiach, when it will become apparent that the whole long and dark exile was a blessing in disguise.

Much more could be said in this subject, but I hope that the above will suffice to help you regain fully your true Jewish perspective, especially as what has been written above is not intended to answer the question once and for all, but merely to help minimize the doubts and questions which might distract a Jew from his innate simple faith in G-d and in His infinite loving kindness and justice, which is an integral part of every Jew’s heritage.

At this time before Pesach, the Festival of our Liberation, I send you and yours prayerful wishes for a kosher and inspiring Pesach and a fuller measure of liberation from all distractions, so as to be able to serve G-d wholeheartedly and with joy.

With blessing,

P.S. It is customary in a situation where one is bothered by doubts and questions, to have the tefillin checked to make sure they are kosher and to be careful in putting them on every weekday morning, since the mitzvah of tefillin, as put on the arm facing the heart and on the head, the seat of intelligence, is conducive to purifying the heart and the mind and making them more perceptive. It is also customary in such a situation to observe meticulously the laws of kashrus of all foods and beverages consumed.

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