“It is not the timing of the meds, but the appropriateness,” lectured the senior doctor to the gaggle of white-coated residents as they rounded in ICU. She was talking about my father and the antibiotics given in the ER in a rapid-fire prescription for his infection. She continued expounding how hospitals get rated for this, for the know-how that would enable them to give the right medication right from the start, instead of, like in my father’s case, having to be adjusted and readjusted to correct the incorrect match of med to infection.
The Gemora tells the story of Rav Huna who had wine that soured into vinegar. A discussion ensued with the other rabbis who told him to examine his deeds to see why it could have happened. This would be in accordance with the injunction that one always must examine one’s deeds when misfortune happens. Yes, it could be that the misfortune is actually just a test, not a punishment. However, first step of a person when misfortune strikes has to be an accounting of what might have been done wrong to deserve it.
The Gemora story then continues that Rav Huna couldn’t figure it out on his own, and the rabbis let him know gently that word on the street is that he owed someone grape vines. Rav Huna accepted that they are right and paid up those vines promptly.
This web dvar http://www.shortvort.com/brachos/492 brings the opinion of Reb Chaim Volozhin that “repentance and good deeds only act as a shield against punishment if they fall in the same category as the sin for which the principle of midah kenegged midah justified penalization.” In plain English, the rationale of why you think this whop we got matches that sin we did must have a logical sense to it.
Our reaction to pain, injustice and tragedy has to be thought-out, rational and appropriate. Not just timely. As the doctor says, “It is not the timing, but the appropriateness.”