- Jewish Laws and Thoughts
- Subjects of Jewish Thougts
Translated by Hillel Fendel
Question: Some of the events of recent months and years have, once again, sorely shaken my faith. Forty-five men and boys are trampled to death in the midst of a joyous religious occasion… A new convert on her way to study Torah is murdered by a terrorist… A long-awaited baby suddenly dies… etc. etc. I have read much about emuna and that "everything is for the best," but it's very hard to see and sense G-d through all this sorrow and pain!
Rebbe Nachman [of Breslov] says that "G-d is most certainly found even within the hidden of the hidden" – but it's hard to see this! Every attack, every death shakes up whatever happiness and serenity I still have... I try to change and become stronger, but I am just a nothing compared to the Great and Awesome G-d! How can I, one little girl, hope to change what He decreed? How can I hope to help my people in its great suffering? Every tribulation it suffers slices through my heart, to the point where I fear that by the time the Mashiah comes I won't have a heart left!
Can you guide me somehow in my pain and sorrow? I want to strengthen my emuna, not see it fall apart…
Answer: I feel your pain as I read your letter, and I so understand you. Just the very thought of the suffering families, the great desecration of G-d's name when His sons and daughters are slaughtered by terrorists… Terrible.
Yet still, we continue to march forward! The Nation of Israel has gone through much pain and suffering, and at the same time, we know that we are the Nation of the Blessed G-d, the people He formed in order to disseminate His name in the world and thus lead the world to its complete rectification. We began this great and important mission thousands of years ago, and we continue to merit to accomplish it today, in the footsteps of Avraham Avinu.
The path is a long one, and we are required not to stop or stumble, but to continue to march. Sometimes we reach a spot where some of us wish to be convinced that we have reached the end – at which point G-d sends us a "reminder" of where we actually are and where we have to get to. Speaking to us via current events, G-d leads us forward and does not allow us to remain passively behind; He "hits" us so as to keep us going forward.
Quite clearly, we do not have prophets, and we cannot know exactly why this or that person suffers more than others, or why things happen exactly the way they do. However, the process in general is something we can understand, based on what we have learned from the Torah and from our Sages.
The late Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, Dean of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav founded by his renowned father Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, taught us that we must look carefully at how G-d leads us in history. We are to "remember the days of old and consider the years of all generations" (Deut. 32,7); by studying Jewish history we will merit to understand how to look forward as well. [Ed. note: The very fact alone of the unprecedented survival of the Jewish People throughout history, followed by its blossoming and flowering in recent decades, is often sufficient to strengthen one's emuna in G-d and His Torah!]
Yes, many events are so very painful and difficult – but it is critical not to sink into the mire of the tribulations! It is important to strengthen ourselves, to hear classes and teachers that reinforce us, to study emuna for this period and its challenges and thus to become stronger - and certainly not weaker.
I very much recommend that you take part in the classes on our website https://www.yeshiva.co/search?q-Faith [search there for other topics as well], which help to build and fortify how we look at the world in this time and place. We must study and march forward, and we must build up our aspirations, national and personal, together with all of Clal Yisrael.
It is very important to remember always that we are not alone: G-d is with us, marching forward with us, and we are in fact constantly advancing. It is critical to see our progress and all the good things, and draw strength from them.
Be strong and continue to grow in emuna and confidence in Am Yisrael; do not spend time on things that weaken you, but only on those that carry you higher!
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