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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Hashem hurts the ones He loves the most

Daf Yomi Bava Basra 79

At the college where my father teaches, he has a Jewish colleague, called Fred.  Fred is an atheist.
“Come on, Freddie,” said Aba one day to him, “look at the wonderful world around you!  You can’t seriously believe that it all happened randomly, can you?”
“Look, mate,” Fred replied, “I once had cancer.  I can’t believe in a G-d that would have given me cancer.”
“But, Freddie,” my dad responded bemusedly, “you got better!  Doesn’t that demonstrate the abundant mercies of the Almighty?!”

After the battle with the Emorites, the Torah declares, “We laid waste to them (VanAshim) until Nofach, which reaches until Maidva.”
The Gemara explains: “Until Nofach” means until a fire (Aish) comes that needs no nifuach (fanning).  “Until Maidva” means until He has done what He wants (Mai d’vaee).
Rashbam explains: ‘He’ refers to Hashem. In this world, He allows the wicked to prosper, so that He may trouble them in the World to Come.

Some people mistakenly view suffering in this world as a sign that G-d doesn’t care or that there is no G-d.  That could not be further from the truth!  As the Gemara demonstrates, when people suffer in this world, it’s a sign that G-d loves them! 

How so?

Nobody in this world is 100% righteous or wicked.  We all have a string of positive and negative things that we’ve done in this world.  Hopefully, the positive overwhelmingly outweighs the negative in most of us.  When that happens, Hashem says, ‘I like that fellow.  I’d like to give him total reward in Heaven.  So let me bestow a little hardship upon him in this world and thereby wipe the slate clean.  That way, he’ll enter Heaven sin-free.’ 

The opposite is true for people who are not so great.  Hashem says, ‘That fellow really needs to answer for his sins in the World to Come.  But he’s not 100% wicked, so I’m going to let him prosper in this world.  That way, I won’t owe him any reward later.’

In other words, your Father in Heaven wants only the best for you.  He wants you to enjoy life in this world and the next.  But in order to maximize your eternal bliss, sometimes He has to provide you with a little pain in this world.  And so when we experience hardship, we shouldn’t start questioning G-d’s providence or existence; au contraire, we should be thanking Him for His benevolence!

And if you should be lucky enough to have experienced a storm that Hashem carried you through – like surviving cancer – you should be all the more grateful to Him!  That truly demonstrates how much He loves you.  He loves you so much that He wants you to have a perfect life in the next world!

So next time things aren’t going exactly the way you’d hoped, turn your eyes Heavenward and say, ‘Thank you, Aba!  Thank you for loving me so much and having the confidence in me that I’ll maintain my faith in You through it all!’

Your Father in Heaven loves you more than you could ever imagine!  When He gives you challenges in life, it’s only because He loves you and wants the best for you.  May you forever maintain your faith in Heaven and welcome the trials and tribulations Hashem lovingly bestows upon you!