By Rabbi Yechezkel Spanglet
We asked last week how the chet of Adam Harishon is relevant to our topic of coping with suffering. Let’s start with the period after the chet. Adam and the world underwent an enormous decline. He lost his previous bond with the Al-lmighty; his neshama became secondary to his body and his physical nature became predominate over his spiritual infrastructure. Hashem’s direct hanhaga to the world decreased and the presence of the Shechina in the physical world became hidden. Adam Harishone, even after teshuva, would not be allowed back into Gan Eden and to his former madrega. In short, there was a “crash” and evil was introduced in Adam’s internal and external environment. With evil came suffering.
Sounds like a very bleak picture? Not so. We know that our Heavenly Father had a goal and purpose for history. We also know that whatever Hashem does is for the best. Adam could not bring the world back to its former glory, but that doesn’t mean it could not be done in another manner. The challenge of eradicating evil and overcoming suffering in the world would now become incumbent upon Adam’s descendents. When the following twenty generations were not able to elevate themselves and fulfill this purpose, this role was then passed on to Avrahm Avinu, the Avos and Klal Yisroel when they became a nation as Sinai.
How was this to happen? In addition to fulfilling the mandates of the Torah, Hashem gave a shelichus (mission) to each Jew through which he would accomplish his part in his personal and collective tachlis. The Nesivos Shalom (Maamar Aleph-Avodas Hashem) teaches that a person’s shelichus lies within his strongest spiritual weakness, where the yetzer harah would feel “most comfortable” to pull him away from serving Hashem. He concludes with a sweeping statement. Even if a person fulfills all the Torah and mitzvos, “he would not be accomplishing his tafkid in life” if he does not fulfill this shelichus. This challenge could be in the world of middos, nisyonos, sickness, parenting, fear, depression, shalom bayis, learning, earning a parnasa, and so forth. This shelichus was to accept and overcome his weakness and suffering as challenges from Hashem to use them as a springboard for spiritual growth. In the process a person can unleash never before realized talents, and elevate oneself to his tafkid as expressed by the Nesivos Shalom. As a consequence a person yearns to bond with the Al-lmighty.
Accomplishing this shelichus is easier said than done. It is a formidable challenge. So how is this done? Through emunah! Emunah teaches that our Heavenly Father has infinite love for us, and we can be assured he is with us and sends us these challenges for our good. The Gemarah also teaches that without Hashem’s help we would not be able to prevail over our yetzer harah. By submitting ourselves to Hashem’s will and knowing that he is granting us an opportunity to grow and sprout and will help, we can be stirred to be successful in our mission and in the process receive eternal reward.
Rav Tzvi Meir Silverberg takes this a step further. Everyone has their challenges and yesurim that they must undergo. He teaches that all the nisyonos and yesurim that a person undergoes in his life is a custom made package from our Heavenly Father for us to reach our tikun and tachlis.
The Maharal teaches that he darkest period of night precedes dawn, that is, from darkest period of suffering sprouts forth the Light of Hashem. For example, the aveilus becomes more lenient on Tisha B’av after chatzos, corresponding to the period when the Bais Hamikdash was put aflame. Why? For the destruction was the beginning of the redemption. Our unshaken emunah that heavenly Father is with us in the darkest moments helps us to cope and rise above any situation.
The Nesivos Shalom brings a yesod (Maamar Chanukah) that emunah has an even stronger effect that tefillah. He brings a proof from the Chanukah story. I would like to bring a proof from Parshas Beshalach. When Am Yisroel was trapped at the Yam Suf, they cried out to the Al-lmighty. He told Moshe Rabeinu that this is not the time for tefillah, “Speak to B’nei Yisroel that they should travel forward”. (Shemos 14:15). With emunah, at the risk of their lives, many initiated the entrance into the sea and the nes occurred. Emunah brings yeshua.
Why was it necessary to test Am Yisroel’s emunah again and in such an extreme manner at the Yam? Isn’t yetzias mitzraim enough of a lesson in emunah? To be continued.