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Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim 5772

Ein Ayah: Balance Between Fear of Hashem and Appreciation of the Positive

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:13)

Gemara:  Even at the time of Hashem’s anger, he remembers the tzaddikim, as the pasuk says: “It was when Hashem destroyed the cities of the flatlands, Hashem remembered Avraham and delivered Lot from the midst of the upheaval” (Bereishit 19:29).


Ein Ayah:  The way Hashem runs the world always parallels the path of the justice and ethics that a sacred soul should follow. One of the things that uplift people’s souls to righteousness is when the value of tzaddikim is visible in the way Hashem leads the world. It is important that even others who are connected to tzaddikim should be blessed with success, which will encourage the masses to strive for righteousness. Another necessity for the world is that there is fear of Heaven, especially fear of punishment. Therefore, punishment of the wicked strengthens the world.

Sometimes there is a contradiction between the implementation of the aforementioned Divine tools of world leadership. On one hand, it is good for the world to see the Divine justice meted out to the wicked, which can happen with fiery force when the full measure of Divine patience has worn out. What if there is a Divine desire to have mercy on an individual within those slated for destruction because of his connection to a tzaddik? On one hand, we have discussed the positive in such a dispensation. On the other hand, if it weakens the display of justice, it lessens the fear of Divine retribution. Despite that problem, the great importance of raising the stature of tzaddikim in the eyes of the public can make it worthwhile even if it lowers people’s level of fear.

That is why even in Hashem’s “time of anger,” when there was a need to strengthen the feeling of strict justice, Hashem remembered the tzaddikim, and, in honor of Avraham, spared Lot from amongst the wicked people of the region of Sodom.       


Goodness That Does Not Always Feel Good   

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:16)


Gemara:      What beracha does one make when he survives a dangerous situation? “Blessed … who granted good things to those who are culpable.”


Ein Ayah:   One who survived a bitter, dangerous experience when Hashem removed the normal Divine order of affairs has special lessons to learn along with the thanks he is to give. He should learn that it is not proper for man to ask for more than what he deserves, and he should be happy with what Hashem gives him.

The hoda’ah (usually translated, thanks) includes two parts. One is the viduy (admission, which comes from the same Hebrew root). One should realize that he was wrong for not being appreciative enough of his lot before the difficult, dangerous times came upon him. Hashem is kind in that He “grants good things to those who are culpable” for complaining about His wisdom and kindness. In fact, Hashem show his kindness specifically by bringing on the harsh situation that can serve as rebuke for man, encouraging him to improve himself.

The second, then, is to be thankful for his lot and recognize how Hashem was actually kind to him all along. That is what is meant by the pasuk (in Tehillim 107, upon which Birkat Hagomel is based): “They will thank Hashem for His kindness”, specifically after the hard times helped him morally. Only Hashem, who sees into his heart, knows how much help it was. The pasuk continues with “and for His wonders to mankind,” which relates to the wonderful phenomenon of keeping people within limits. This includes the discipline of social apparatuses, as we say that it is Hashem who grants kings their statuses.   

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