Friday, August 01, 2014

knowing the big picture doesn't take away the pain

I wanted to clarify a point regarding the last post.  After all the remazim and derush is said and done, the bottom line message is that as miserable as the three weeks are, we have to trust that there is a bracha buried in all that pain.  Is that an answer to why people suffer or does it make the suffering any less tragic?   Of course not.  It’s simply an affirmation of faith that not only is G-d just, but that he is good as well. 

Aderaba, telling someone suffering that their pain is just imaginary because in truth everything is goodness and bracha is callous.  The Rambam says failing to mourn is “achzari” (Hil Aveil ch 13).   Philosophical truths about G-d’s goodness do not remove the pain in the here and now – nor are they intended to. 

The Midrash writes that of all the many terms used to describe nevuah, the harshest is chazon.  When you see that word, you know something bad is going to happen.  What is it about the word “chazon” that sets it apart?  The Aish Kodesh explains with an analogy: a father may know that an operation is what is best for his child, but were he to witness his child being cut open and being put through pain, he would not be able to withhold himself from stopping it.  It’s one thing to know something bad is going to happen; it’s another thing to have a “chazon,” a vision, to see it in reality.  All the philosophy and knowledge and theoretical justifications go out the window at that point.

Ra’oh ra’isi es ani ami,” Hashem told Moshe that he saw the affliction of the Jewish people in Egypt and therefore he is going to save them, “ki yadati es macho’vav.”  The Aish Kodesh explains that since G-d sees the pain of the Jewish people – it’s not just some theoretical awareness – therefore “yadati es machovav,” kavyachol he can think only about their pain and suffering; the philosophical knowledge that it might be for their good gets pushed out of mind, as if G-d were unaware of it.

The experience of pain and suffering in times of crisis instead of feeling like all is bracha and chessed is not a shortcoming of our being human, a shortcoming of our missing the “big” picture.  G-d himself kavyachol “feels” pain and suffering when he sees his children in pain and he surely knows the big picture better than we do.  That is the way he chooses to run the world.  To us it looks like a paradox -- so be it.

Mah hu, af atah.  The response to Jewish suffering must be 1) empathy; 2) doing all that is possible to remove or ameliorate the pain. One day when pain and suffering are no more, when we don’t have the vision of churban in front of our eyes, perhaps them we will better see the reality of the bracha and tovah that underpin what today are only philosophical constructs.

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