Hardships & Suffering
by Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky
Dear Rabbi Orlofsky,
I’ve had this question pop into my head every so often and I have also had friends who asked me the same question. There are so many wonderful people in this world who are so connected to
their Yiddishkeit. They wouldn’t give it up for anything. Yet I see and hear so many stories of all the hardships people go through…..illnesses (of all ages), divorces, orphaned children, couples with no children, so many children off the derech (just that can cause so much pain to parents)…..how do we even try to understand all these sad things? Most of what we can do is daven, but it never seems to go away. I don’t want to sound like an apicores (I know I’m not one because even with all this going on I know that Hashem is the One running the world and I know He does everything for
us, because He loves us) I just want to understand this whole idea better.
Name and Seminary withheld by request
This is THE major issue that so many of us have to deal with on a regular basis. It is hard to deal with our own suffering – often harder to deal with watching the suffering of others. I have an hour shiur on the topic on my website rabbiorlofsky.com but I will try to summarize one of the three approaches I deal with.
This world is not the ultimate purpose of creation. It is a place and time of preparation – to allow us to become people who have greatness. The potential of a human being in spiritual terms is beyond belief.
We have all met people who look back at the end of their lives and are disappointed with how they lived. They wish they had used their time in this world better. What would have motivated them to live more meaningful lives?
There is a sad reality – most people tend to grow when things go wrong. When things are going well they cruise – not pushing themselves to be better people. They take life as it comes. Often when you see people starting to push themselves, suddenly davening with more intensity, giving charity and doing acts of kindness, it is because of suffering in their lives. How sad!
But that is the second paragraph of the Shema. If you serve Hashem with all your heart then I will send you beracha. If you pull away from Hashem I will send you klalla. Choose what works best for you. This idea is all over the Torah. When we come into Eretz Yisroel we make a bris at Har Gerizim and Har Aival. One is the mountain of blessing, one is the mountain of curses. Choose which one you want!
Hashem says “I put before you good and bad, life and death. Choose life!”
When I see people suffering or I look at the suffering in my own life, I try to see the potential for the greatness inside of all of us to surface – to help us become the exceptional people we can become.