Thursday, October 27, 2005

Suffering

The theme of rachamim is one of the most prevalent themes in Jewish text. How many times do we ascribe the trait of mercy, rachamim to Hashem? We affectionately refer to G-d as “Avinu”, our father, during fasts and the days of awe between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. We repeat over and over the 13 middos of Mercy. Hashem, Hashem, kal rachum vchanun erech apyim,rav chesed vemes nosayavon etc..– Hashem, Hashem, G-d, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in kindness and truth etc... Again and again we attribute the G-d with being merciful and compassionate.
Homelessness is rampant in the United States. It is so common that we have become immune to it. We tend to view them as crazy and incompetent because otherwise they would not allow themselves to remain in such a predicament. While, this may be true, believe it or not, it is a fact that some homeless people were once respected, highly competent professionals such as lawyers, stockbrokers and investment bankers. Perhaps they snapped one day and couldn’t take it anymore. Imagine for a moment an investment banker who held a prominent position in a well-respected firm. He was responsible for millions of dollars and led a large staff of intelligent individuals who were only too willing to answer his beck and call. Perhaps he had a successful marriage with 2 perfectly behaved children (now you know the story is fiction).
Now imagine that there was another employee who desired all that this person had and systematically and single- handedly tricked him into losing all of the money which he was responsible for, causing a snowball effect which caused him to lose his job, destroy his marriage, ruin his relationship with his children and leave him without the prospect of ever getting a job again. This man became homeless living on the streets for 20 years jobless, homeless and demented. Imagine the feeling that this homeless individual, once happy and respected, would feel if 20 years later he saw the man who had caused his life to spiral out of control was now president of his old investment firm. Now, lets say that he offered the homeless guy a job as a janitor. Imagine the anger, resentment and utter hatred he would feel working as the janitor of his old foe. Never mind respecting and caring for him. Every instruction would be at best painfully fulfilled.
There are people who live with ailments for their entire lives even innocent children. How could Hashem do this to us, to his children? How can Hashem make some suffer for their entire lives yet expect us to love him, and serve him with joy? As parents, we love our children and we discipline them from love. Sometimes a parent might punish or even hit them. Parents do this out of love for the child and with the hope that ultimately the punishment will be for the best. But it would be unforgivable for a parent to punish a child in a way that he would have to live with that punishment for life. When we hit it is temporary. At worst even when we yell or punish, we mean for it to last temporarily, just long enough to have the desired effect. We cannot relate to permanently, certainly not purposely, inflicting a lifelong punishment on a child. How do we emotionally, mentally and physically deal with this?
The simple answer is that Hashem gives us challenges. Difficult, unimaginable challenges. But the choice to suffer is our own. (To Be Continued)

2 Comments:

Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear Glen,

Some very interesting remarks here, but what really caught my eye was your having mentioned that we may hit our children-however temporary that "hit" may be and that we do it out of love ... I surely do hope so .... should we needs hit our children in the first place; as the father of three children: Ben, Olav Ha Shalom, 27; Kimberly, 25, and Zac, 18, I too know what it's like to really feel anger at my children, but if it's a "potsch in tush" that becomes necessary, as I once heard it said, let them feel our ANGER, but NOT any PAIN! I am ...

Sincerely yours,

Alan D. Busch

p.s. Hoping that the yomim tovim were pleasant for you and your family.

12:53 AM  
Blogger Glen Holman said...

Alan,
Not neccessarily advocating spanking or otherwise. Though,it is a reality that there are parents who do so. Even so,your average person does not engage in child abuse.

Your comments are appreciated as are your good wishes.

11:47 AM  

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