Age Old Questioning and Kvetching, “why do the good suffer?” and other attempts to try to understand a nonunderstandable G-d

“The Rock’s (Almighty) works are perfect, all His ways are just…there is no injustice…”

The statement that “life isn’t fair” isn’t a Jewish concept.  Hashem is perfect.  Therefore, anything He does is perfect.  We might not understand it, but that doesn’t mean it is unfair – it just means we see too little in life to understand the big picture.  Moshe Rabeinu at one point asked to “see Hashem”, meaning he wanted to understand G-d’s reasoning.  G-d explained to Moshe that no one can see Hashem, but Moshe gets a glimpse of G-d’s “back”.  What does this mean and what does Moshe see?  Moshe is shown a scene, a sort of movie at a private screening just for Moshe.  Here are the scenes Moshe saw:

A man is traveling in the woods and a highwayman comes along and kills him, then steals his wallet full of money.  The scene closes.  Then Moshe is shown another scene.  He sees two men, one an elderly tramp and another younger man.  They get into an argument, and the younger man kills the tramp.  A wallet falls out of the tramp’s pocket but the murderer doesn’t notice.  He is too panicked, trying to hide the body.  He finally hides the dead man and runs away from the area.  Moshe then sees a little boy come along and find the tramp’s wallet, which is stuffed with money, and the boy happily runs home with the money.  The scene ends.

Moshe is puzzled.  What is the meaning of this, he asks G-d.  Hashem explains that the tramp was the highwayman.  The wallet of money the little boy found was the original money stolen.  And the little boy was the son of the first murdered man, which means that the money rightfully belonged to him.  That is what is meant to see the “back” of Hashem – that looking back at history, sometimes we see glimpses of how Hashem rights the wrongs and passes judgment.  As Hillel said, “you were drowned because you drowned others and he who drowned you will be drowned.”

Our view is imperfect and that is why we think life is unfair.  G-d and His ways are perfect.  To the craziest tiniest degree.  Another example to help us undertand it.  Yirmiyahu was a prophet who had to tell the Jews that Hashem would exile and punish them, if they didn’t do Teshuva [repent].  He was not a very popular fellow, because the wayward folks wanted to continue doing immoral deeds.  So, at one point, some folks took Yirmiyahu and threw him into a pit full of slimy mud where he was slowly drowning.  Hashem had someone throw down a rope to him and he crawled out, hand over hand.  Now, if you ever did rope climbing, you would know that pulling yourself up on a rope is painful to the hands which become blistered and bleeding.  Yirmiyahu was mystified and he asked, “G-d, if you were saving me already, why not with a ladder, which would have been way more convenient for me.”  To which G-d replied, “Yirmiyahu, with what did your great-grandmother save the lives of the spies?  With a rope.  A rope for a rope is how I saved you.”  Yirmiyahu’s great-grandmother was Rachav HaZonah, and yes, she had saved the lives of the Jewish spies by lowering them from her roof with a rope.  G-d rewards and punishes with the tiniest details in place.  No one gets more than he deserves or less than he deserves in life.

“A G-d of faith without injustice…”  Rashi says that this means “rewards good people in the world to come and bad people in this world.”  Why is that justice — that the really good people’s reward is saved up for the next world, and the really bad people, any good they do is paid for in this world?  The reasoning is this way:  the wicked are usually horrible, but occasionally, for a brief moment, they do something good.  Therefore, their reward comes in this world, which is a temporary world (think about it, how long do we live, maybe seventy or eighty years so even if we are rich all our lives, it is less than one hundred years of pleasure).  A righteous person is usually good with some occasional brief moments of messing up.  Therefore, such a person gets punishment in this world (some toothache or frustration in life which is a short life anyway) and all his reward is saved up for the next world which has no end –the reward is forever.

Blind men cannot see a whole vista of a scene.  Human beings cannot see the full picture that blends generations, decades and past and future into one big tapestry of which we only see minute parts.  Therefore, humans have no way of thinking they are seeing the whole picture,and with that lack, have no way of judging fairness and justice.


About jewishspectacles

Jewish Spectacles-the kind you look through, not the kind you create!
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