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Your Rod And Staff Shall Comfort MeYou shall know in your heart, that just as a man chastises his son, so does the Lord, your God, chastise you. (Devorim 8:5)
Excerpt from Mission Possible! by the author
Rav Shach, zt"l, frequently quoted the explanation offered by Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, zt"l, on the words in Tehillim, "Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they shall comfort me," as follows:
To what can this be compared? To a father who was traveling with his son through a thick forest. Before entering, the father cautioned his son strictly not to wander off for even a moment, lest he endanger his life.
At first the child heeded his father's warning and held on tightly to his father's hand. But after a while, something caught his attention. He let go and went off to explore. Not realizing that his son was absent, the father continued on. Soon the son tired and wished to return to his father, but could not find him. The more he floundered about in the thicket, the more confused he became and the further he strayed from his father. Night fell and darkness swallowed everything up. The night creatures ventured out of their lairs: owls, wolves and bears, each emitting its peculiar and frightening sounds. The boy was terrified.
Suddenly, the boy felt a sharp pain on his cheek. It was a stinging slap. Before screaming his protest, he looked up and saw his father. "Oh, Father! Father!" he cried, forgetting his pain. "How happy I am to have found you!" Indeed, he welcomed his father's punishment, for it meant that his father had been looking for him and still cared.
Similarly, a Jew in distress is not afraid of evil, for he realizes that this is the chastising rod of Hashem, the Father Who is concerned for his welfare. The very punishing rod is his consolation that Hashem still cares.
When the Divrei Chaim returned from Sanz after the funeral of his beloved son, Arye Leibush, who passed away at the age of seven, he said:
"A man is walking innocently along when he suddenly feels a forceful blow on his back. Turning around to identify his attacker, he is surprised to see his best friend thumping him affectionately upon the back. Even if he first meant to scold the striker, he now accepts the blows with a smile and is veritably happy at his friend's exuberant show of affection. I, too, have received a stunning blow. But when I looked around to see who struck it, I said to myself: 'Why, it is none other than Hashem Himself, Whom I love so much! There is no question about my accepting it with love and joy.'"
I Paid No Attention To Worldly Problems
Rav Moshe Mordechai Schulsinger told the following anecdote in his eulogy on Rav Yisrael Ya'akov Kanievsky, the Steipler Gaon, zt"l:
"My master (the Steipler) once told a person who was in need of encouragement, comfort, and support not to concern himself overly with problems that have to do with worldly matters. 'I myself,' he said, 'would have undoubtedly remained an ignoramus, had I taken to heart those matters that preoccupy a person's attention. Do you know what troubles I suffered? For years, I lived in abject poverty. We had no more than black bread to eat on Shabbos, to say nothing of proper clothing to wear. In addition, I had considerable anguish in raising my children. And so, if you think you have troubles, let me tell you that my tza'ar giddul banim (difficulty in raising children) alone was great enough to be parceled out to a hundred people!' (He went into some details and then continued:)
'Hashem provided me with a son-in-law who was taken from us, leaving eight destitute orphans behind and a baggage of medical problems.... But Hashem was kind to me, perhaps because I studied Mussar, perhaps in the merit of the Torah I learned in my youth...
'I regarded all my problems in the light of the Seforno's explanation on the verse "Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they shall comfort me," as follows: David HaMelech said: "I know that it is You Who smites me. Therefore, Your rod - with which You struck me in the past - and Your staff - upon which I leaned for support - strengthen me with the knowledge that no matter how debilitating the blow, it is always followed by the supporting staff. This is my comfort and reassurance in the face of each succeeding adversity. It is the source of my faith and hope that this time, too, Your staff will be waiting to console and bolster me."
'There is no other resort but to ignore worldly afflictions,' he concluded, comforting the person before him. The latter left him, a new man."
If Only He Had Beat Me More!
Rav Yisroel Lubachinsky, the son-in-law of the Alter of Navahrdok, related a remarkable moshol. There was once a poritz (a wealthy landowner) who hired a Jew to work some of his land. He treated the Jew like a slave, and one day beat him mercilessly. A few days later the Jew met a friend of his who saw how distressed he was and asked, "What's wrong?" The Jew told his friend about the terrible beating he had suffered at the hand of the poritz. "Why don't you take him to court - maybe they will do something about it," his friend suggested. The Jew took his friend's advice. The judge ruled in his favor and handed down the verdict: for every blow the Jew had received, the poritz was to pay him a generous amount of rubles. A few days later, the Jew again met his friend, and again he looked upset. "What's wrong now?" his friend asked him. "I thought you won the case and got a pretty reward from the poritz!"
"I did," the Jew answered, "and that's exactly what's bothering me. Before, I was upset about the beating he gave me. But now that I've been compensated for each blow, I'm very upset. If only he had beat me more!"
If only we knew what really awaits us in return for all the pain and suffering we endure in this world, then we wouldn't complain so much. (Quoted by Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita, Derech Emunah u'Bitachon, parashas Vayeishev.)
Wishing everyone a Gut Shabbos!
Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Yeshiva Gedolah Medrash Chaim
Rabbi Parkoff is author of “Chizuk!” and “Trust Me!” (Feldheim Publishers), and “Mission Possible!” (Israel Book Shop ? Lakewood). You can access Rav Parkoff's Chizuk Sheets online:
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