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Shabbat Parashat Vayeira 5773

Ein Ayah: Reacting to Hashems Part in Sad Tidings

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9: 183-4)

Gemara:  What does it mean that one should bless Hashem for bad news as he does for good news? If it means that one should recite the blessing of Hatov V’hameitiv (He is good and does good for others), doesn’t the mishna state: “On good news, one recites Hatov V’hameitiv, and on bad news, he recites Baruch Dayan Ha’emet (blessed is the Judge of truth). Rather, it means that he must accept it [and recite the blessing- Rashi] with happiness. How do we know this? 1. “In Hashem (the Name of Mercy) I will praise the matter; in Elokim (the Name of the Judgment) I will praise the matter” (Tehillim 56:11) – [the praise] refers both to the measure of goodness and of harsh decrees; 2. “On kindness and justice I shall sing” (Tehillim 101:1); 3. “A cup of salvation I shall raise, and I will call out in the Name of Hashem” (Tehillim 117:13); “Troubles and anguish I will find, and I will call out in the Name of Hashem” (ibid. 3). 4. “Hashem gave, Hashem took; may Hashem’s Name be blessed” (Iyov 1:21).  


Ein Ayah:  It is not spiritually advantageous to negate natural feelings to the point that one does not distinguish between good and bad or care about his personal welfare. Rather a person should realize that life, riches, and honor are pleasant and good and that being lacking in the basics of life is a problem that is not to be belittled. However, one should have a stronger recognition that Hashem’s providence is good and fair, and one should be willing to accept it no matter the circumstances. Thus, while feeling the pain of loss, one should be happy to accept that which Hashem dealt him in life. The different texts of the blessings capture the different feelings appropriate for good and bad tidings. However, the more important attitude while reciting blessings should be the same for the different types.

One with the wrong attitude is apt to disagree with that which Hashem did and ignore the value that exists, at least for the collective, in the action that caused an individual pain. The first source, therefore, stresses that one should praise Hashem and show that he accepts what Hashem has done and realize that good will come from it.

A higher level is not only to acknowledge the propriety of Hashem’s actions but to feel the need to personally react with happiness to the situation. He does not praise the specific event but sings out from the depths of his heart for the opportunity to have a relationship with Hashem and be involved in Hashem’s master plan described in the second source. He is not only understanding of the need to sacrifice his personal welfare for the needs of the collective but is happy that he has the opportunity to attach his personal life to that of the collective.

An even higher level is to not only look at the individual event, whether it be a joyous one or a tragic one, in the proper light but to use the opportunity to contemplate his relationship with Hashem. This can be done in two ways: one is to contemplate his personal relationship, and this is a positive thing. The higher level, though, is to contemplate the relationship within the broadest perspective, in relation to life in general and to the collective. This is the calling out in the Name of Hashem to which the third source relates.

The highest of all levels is to not just be inspired by a particular event to focus on Hashem but to make understanding the ways of Hashem his life’s goal. This is referred to by the fourth source, of blessing Hashem’s Name, which relates to all the glory of Hashem’s actions in the world. He will cling to them with a pure love of one who has removed all evil from himself and is dedicated to elevate the kingdom of Hashem, King of the Universe.


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