By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey
This week’s Torah reading of Behar-Bechukosai (Vayikra (Leviticus) 25:1-27:34) includes a section known as the “Tochacha” (Rebuke). It is an ominous warning of the troubles and difficulties that will befall Israel should they stray from the G‑dly path. The mystics teach that even those frightening punishments are, in reality, hidden blessings that cannot be perceived at face value.
Thee is an interesting analogy on this theme from the well-known author Rabbi Dr A.J. Twerski. A mother takes her toddler to the doctor. The doctor prepares to give the child a vaccination by injection. But the child isn't stupid. He sees trouble coming, so he doesn't make it easy for the doctor. In fact, Mom must hold the child down while the doctor administers the injection, and throughout, the kid is screaming and shouting. Not a minute later the child is suddenly burying his face in Mom's shoulder, desperately seeking solace in his mother's embrace. And the question is “Why?” Wasn’t Mom an accomplice to the crime when she held him down while the doctor attacked him? Why is this child suddenly finding comfort on Mom's shoulder? She is the enemy!
The answer is that every child knows intuitively that his mother loves him and wants only the best for her child. Even if there seems to be a momentary lapse, he knows it will be short-lived. After the fleeting test of faith, the innate and essential bond of love between mother and child is quickly re-established.
And so it is with our Father in Heaven. Sometimes we may feel angry from what we see happening. Why does He allow all these terrible misfortunes to befall us? And yet, we know that he really and truly does love us. After all is said and done, we are His children. Does the mother in the clinic hate her child? Is she punishing him? G‑d forbid. Does the doctor want to hurt the child? Of course not ! So, just as a child is comforted by his mother, so is the Jew comforted by the knowledge and conviction that G‑d loves us.
To us it may remain a mystery but to G‑d there is a cosmic, eternal plan. The child doesn't understand or appreciate an injection and neither can we fathom the divine "vaccinations" we must put up with from time to time. Nevertheless, we accept in good faith that somehow there is a reason - and even a good reason - behind all our problems. It may not be revealed to us in this world, only in the next. So we do need a fair amount of patience. Personally, I'm prepared to handle living in suspense.
In our moments of misery and days of distress, let us remember that our loving Father in Heaven is surely no less caring than the mother in the doctor's office.