The gain from the pain

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The gain from the pain

By Harav Y. R. Rubin Shlita

It happened again, just last night, and if it wasn’t that I said we should sort this out last year, well I wouldn’t be upset. But I did say something, or I think I did, yet the moment came and everything was just as it has always been. I am talking about the Pesachdik counter tops that are taken out of the garage once a year and never seem to fit where we think they were last year. These laminated boards once fitted perfectly, and still would if we only remembered where they go. Of course, we never do remember, and so a strange ballet takes place in the kitchen with family participants walking about with their boards trying to place them in their correct place. We try this without Bubbie’s attendance; after all she has been working so hard and now is the time for us boys to shine. Sadly, we always mess up, and in the end it’s her perfect eye that sorts things out amidst the chaos.

We are living in difficult times; pieces of life seem to be out of place and no matter how much we try nothing seems to fit. It just doesn’t make sense, we are trying so hard, sending our young to the best schools, davening in good shuls, learning the Daf, and so much more, yet, we are weighed down with so much that doesn’t fit.

About thirty-five years ago we lived in Flatbush Brooklyn, on Bedford Avenue. I was then the Rav of a small Beis Medrash and every day I walked down Bedford Avenue from my home to the shteibl. I passed the house where last Shabbos seven sweet holy neshomas were taken from us in a fire. Obviously, all those years ago that family didn’t live there, but as all Yidden, I feel bound to them in their tzores. Seven kinderlach, smiles that will never be seen again, nachas lost for all eternity. I can’t stop thinking of them. How can this have happened?  How much more pain can Klal Yisroel endure?

We have lived in Golus for thousands of years and have endured every sort of hardship, yet Moshiach has not yet arrived; the pain keeps on building.

I recently learnt something from the Kedushas Tzion of Bobov ztl. He writes on the Haggadah that when we come to the wicked son it tells us:

“What does the wicked son say? “What is this service to you?” “To you and not to him. He has excluded himself, demonstrating his heresy. You too – set his teeth on edge – and say to him, “It is because of this that Hashem did this to me when I left Egypt.” “To me,” and not to him; were he there, he would not have been redeemed.”

The Rebbe asks several questions on this, firstly where does it say he doesn’t believe in Hashem? He seems to be saying that he doesn’t want to take part in the evening’s celebration, and if he is in fact wicked, why is not being redeemed such a big problem?

It seems he would have been happy to stay in Egypt and enjoy the material life.

In answer the Rebbe tells us in part that long before Mitzrayim Avrohom Avinu had been told that his children would be enslaved for four hundred years. The situation changed when the Egyptians went beyond the call of duty and endeavoured to break the Yidden in spirit by ruthless disregard. They cast their children into the Nile, bathed in their blood and more. This wasn’t part of the decree, so why did Hashem allow it?

Some of the Mefarshim explain that the original decree was for an exile of 400 years. In the end, the Jews were in Egypt for only 210 years.

It was actually the intensity of their suffering that facilitated their premature emancipation. Chazal tell us that one punishes a loved one a little at a time; upon an enemy one brings to bear the full force of his misdeed in one fell swoop.

The plan was for the Yidden to be in Mitzrayim for 400 years, but their suffering would have been much less harsh. However, because the Jews in Egypt descended quickly into pagan worship it was calculated that if they stayed any longer they would be beyond all help.

There was no choice but to save them and hasten their departure. Unfortunately, this meant that the suffering, although for a shorter time, would have to be harsher.

The wicked son at the seder is actually saying, “Listen, I had no problem with worshipping idols, so why did I have to suffer harsher times just to save my spirituality? It was not something that bothered me. After all, the Golus had become my persona; it had overtaken my inner self-image.”

From all this we learn one vital lesson: Yidden suffered greatly because they needed to get out of the Egyptian Golus as fast as possible. They accepted the pain to save their neshomas.

It’s been more than 2000 years that we have been in Golus; we have remained faithful to Hashem and accepted our lot with love. Yet, we have seen every nuance of torture and pain being inflicted upon us. The horror of those seven children is yet one more link in this history of anguish.  No matter how we try, the pieces don’t seem to fit; the pain just does not stop; we can’t seem to cover all the hurt.

We can only pray that Hashem will free us from our present Golus quicker than first intended, so that we can come home to a rebuilt Yerusholayim and celebrate our true freedom without the cries of mothers who have lost their young, or brethren being beaten and abused.

May that time come speedily!

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