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Friday, 14 November 2014

Satan is your best friend

Daf Yomi Yevamos 41

One of the major differences between Christianity and Judaism is the status of Satan.  In the former, Satan is a ‘fallen angel,’ who rebelled against G-d and is always trying to entice man to similarly work against Him.  In Judaism, by contrast, Satan is actually G-d’s favourite, most important angel!

We learned the following case in a Beraisa:  There were three brothers, two were married to two sisters and one was single.  One of the married brothers died and the single brother performed the levirate betrothal with his widow (but they did not consummate).  Then the other brother died, followed by his wife.  The surviving brother must annul his betrothal, since he had at one point been required to marry two sisters which is forbidden (since he had not consummated with the first). 

The Gemara asks: Why?  We should consider this widow as one who was permitted to him and then became forbidden (since he had a simultaneous obligation to marry her sister) and subsequently was re-permitted to him (when the sister died).  Thus she should return to her original status of permissibility!

Rav explains:  This teaching follows the ruling of Rabbi Elazar who maintains that once she has become forbidden to him for a moment, she is forever forbidden.
Rav then questioned this position: I would suggest that Rabbi Elazar’s opinion was stated in a case where the widow was not fit at the time she fell to him for marriage.  But in a situation where she was fit at the time of falling, would he say so?  Rav then answered: Yes!

Some people mistakenly look at others who are suffering and assume that they must be bad and therefore G-d punished them.  Heaven forfend!  That couldn’t be further from the truth!  Abraham and Sarah suffered famine, barrenness, family conflict and more.  Were they sinners?  Of course not!

Rather, G-d sent Satan to challenge them in order to bring out the best in them.  If life were one big party, you might have well remained in Heaven.  Your soul came down to earth to become better and stronger.  The more you overcome life’s trials and tribulations, the greater your success in your life’s mission.

Rav tells us that Rabbi Elazar’s ruling applies even when one is fit at the time they fell.  When you see someone that has fallen, whether physically/materially or spiritually, don’t assume that they were not fit for G-d’s blessing; on the contrary, Satan comes especially to those who are fit and causes them to stumble and fall!

Challenges and tests in life are what make us great.  Whether you are challenged with health issues, with children who have taken a bad turn, with employment issues, don’t throw your hands in the air and start questioning G-d’s providence!  The right response is to say, ‘Thank you, G-d, for sending Satan to test my faith!  I’ll show him!’

Don’t let Satan lead you astray.  When you realize that the tests he sends your way are there to make you better, you’ll start to understand that instead of being your enemy, he’s actually your best friend.  He’s your ticket into Heaven!

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