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Life Is Like a ShulAnd now, if I have indeed found favor in Your eyes, let me know Your ways…" (Shmos 33: 13)
"R. Yochanan said in the name of R. Yossi: Three things did Moshe ask of the Holy One, blessed be He…. He asked that He should show him the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He…. Moshe said before Him: Lord of the Universe, why is it that some righteous men prosper and others are in adversity, some wicked men prosper and others are in adversity?" (Brachos 7a)
Why do tzaddikim suffer and why do r'shoim prosper. That has been a question that has plagued the greatest minds throughout history.
The Chofetz Chaim (in Chofetz Chaim on the Torah) discusses this very difficult issue with one of his famous moshols:
A Jew from the country once spent Shabbos in the big city. In shul on Shabbos morning, during the reading of the Torah, the gabbai called up men for aliyos, from all different corners of the shul. After the services, the guest went over to the gabbai and said, "My dear sir, I enjoyed the davening here very much, but tell me, why did you have to call the aliyos from all over? Wouldn't it have been more organized to call the first row this week, the second row next week, and so on? In that way you would be able to call everybody up in an orderly manner and make sure that everybody receives his turn."
The gabbai smiled and replied, "Oy, you come here for one Shabbos and want to understand everything? If you had been here over a period of several weeks, you would have realized that two weeks ago the man on the first bench had a yahrtzeit, and had to have an aliyah then. Last week the fellow behind him celebrated his son's Bar Mitzvah and he had to have an aliyah. The man on the third bench has been sick for the last few weeks and would have lost his turn according to your suggestion! And this week the fellow next to him is getting married, so naturally I had to give him an aliyah today. If I were to follow your advice, nobody would get his aliyah when he needs it and everyone would be unhappy."
So too, teaches the Chofetz Chaim, do we come into this world for a mere seventy or eighty years, and we want to understand everything! But in order to understand it we have to put it into the context of the whole universe, from the beginning of time until the end of days.
At another time he offered a different moshol.
A fellow once came to an inn and spent the night. In the morning, as he was preparing to continue his journey he mentioned to the proprietor that he shouldn't have put the heaters so close to the beds. The bookcase really belongs on the other side of the room. He continued with a few more suggestions to improve the interior design.
The proprietor listened quietly. When he had finished he said, "My friend, you came for only one night and you want to understand everything about this inn. You seem to know already exactly how to fix everything up. I really would like to know. Are you planning on staying here permanently?
There is another well-known illustration of this idea:
In Ashrei we say: ùÑåÉîÅø ä' àÆú ëÌÈì àÉäÂáÈéå. åÀàÅú ëÌÈì äÈøÀùÑÈòÄéí éÇùÑÀîÄéã:
"The Lord guards all who love Him, and all the wicked He destroys" (Tehillim 145:20).
Imagine someone entering shul for just a second and hearing only part of this verse: "…all who love Him, and all the wicked He destroys." He would be shocked. How could such a terrible thing be? So too someone who hears: "The Lord guards all who love Him, and all the wicked." What!?! Even the wicked?
Only one who hears the verse in its entirety understands its true meaning.
Wishing everyone a Gut Shabbos
Shema Yisrael Torah Network