In part 1 a reader asked some of the hardest questions. How can we understand recent tragedies as “good” (as everything G-d does is good)? How do we explain it to those for whom emunah isn’t enough? (The full original question here.)
Let’s be straight, while the world generally operates “ok”, we regularly see “bad things happening to good people” and “good things happening to bad people”. We see things that seem, to our worldly eyes, unfair and unjust. Things both on a personal level, a family level, and on a national level.
Such things are simply incomprehensible from a worldly perspective and expectation of justice and fairness. ‘IT’S JUST NOT FAIR’ as our young children sometimes scream out.
How can we understand it? How can we have emunah (faith) that everything G-d does is for the good while our fleshy eyes see otherwise and our bodies scream IT’S NOT FAIR?
The Baal Shem Tov provided an explanation (based on the teachings of the Ari HaKodesh) of multiple lives and justice carried out between lives. Failings and necessary soul corrections of one life may be corrected or applied in subsequent lives. It’s a theological answer that we may be able to accept intellectually but doesn’t satisfy the desire to believe in, to feel the good.
From the Mishnah and included as part of the Yom Kippur liturgy we have the story of the ten martyrs, the greatest rabbis of the generations who were ultimately tortured to death by the Romans and are told that the melachim, literally the angels, called out in bitter grief “is this the Torah and this it’s reward? O You who enwraps Yourself with light as a garment, the foe blasphemes Your great and awesome Name, scorns and desecrates the words of your Torah!” A voice reverberated from Heaven “If I hear another word I will turn the world to water, I will revert heaven and earth to chaos and desolation. It is My decree, submit to it you who rejoice in the Torah which preceded creation by two thousand years.”
How do we understand this as good? Or a family slaughtered in their beds? Or young people blown up at a bus stop?
How do we reconcile emunah and a belief that all G-d does is for the good with such events?
The answers are beyond human vision and comprehension. We refer to G-d with a variety of names, and each name reveals a different aspect of our relationship with G-d. “Our Father”, “Our King”, “Our Creator”, “Lord”, “Our Master”, “The Infinite”, “Master of the World”, etc. Our Father does what is good for His children. Our King makes rulings that must be followed and dispenses justice when they are not. Our Creator is beyond our comprehension except to say that we know He is there. The Infinite is even beyond that, for no human mind can even conceive of infinity.
Sometimes we merit to see the Hand of G-d in this world, both on a personal and national level. But many times we do not. We do not understand why things happened nor can we predict the results of the events. We may not realize when we’re being directed by our Kind Father or when we’re being dealt with under an aspect of Divine Justice (though we should try to examine our deeds and consult with our wise rabbis to try to get some glimmer), or truly understand our interaction with these facets of the Master of the Universe (though Chassidus and Kabbalah strive to give us a glimpse).
We simply have emunah that it is right, true, and good in a way we cannot understand. That is the definition of emunah.
And that includes knowing sometimes it is G-d’s Will.
May it be G-d’s will that we see it all as good in an earthly straight forward way, with the coming of Moshiach tzidkaynu, mamash today!