As I write this column, the three kidnapped bachurim have not yet been found and rescued. I hope that by the time this column is printed that they will have been returned to the embracing arms of their loved ones and their extended family of Am Yisrael.
Ironically, the topic of this article, which I started to write days before the boys went missing and life was relatively “normal,” deals with heart-rending situations that afflict individuals, their families and/or the community.
Several months ago I read an article in this newspaper that had me shaking my head. The writer is a Torah scholar and no doubt an erliche person who would not want to cause any heartache to any of his readers. I am sure that his intention was to give chizuk and hope to those beset with soul-shattering problems and troubles. Perhaps my interpretation of what he wrote is skewed, but it seemed to me that he may have, inadvertently, added tremendous guilt and a sense of inferiority to hapless men and women mired in difficult situations.
He wrote, “The more a person trusts in Hashem, the more – if it could be, Hashem feels an obligation to take care of that person…It is almost as if Hashem says, how can I not take care of him, he relies on Me, he trusts in Me.”
In regards to the nation, the columnist repeated this assertion, writing, “They rely on Me. I have to save them.”
He concludes that “the amount of our trust in Hashem will directly affect how much Hashem will intercede on our behalf,” and this may have a huge difference in many situations. He points out that there are times we don’t deserve receiving what we need – that we don’t warrant special assistance – but our trust in Hashem could yield blessings. As he mentions several times in his article, “If it could be, Hashem feels an obligation to take care of that person…”
On one hand, that notion is very, very, encouraging and bestows much needed hope to distraught people facing tragic or difficult situations, but conversely, it can leave many people feeling worthless and inadequate if they don’t get the relief they so desperately need and are hoping for.
They can come to the erroneous conclusion that their emunah, their trust in Hashem, was lacking, that their belief in their Heavenly Father was not on a high enough madregah. The cure they so anxiously prayed for, the healthy pregnancy they so achingly want, the job they so desperately need – didn’t materialize.
How will people feel when the long sought shidduch never materializes or the paralysis from the sudden stroke is permanent or the chemo didn’t work?
Will they despise themselves and feel like failures? Will they be riddled by crippling guilt that they didn’t trust or rely on Hashem enough, and so He felt no obligation to “take care of them”?
I know – as I’m sure you do – of situations where individuals and their families had unconditional faith, yet the horrific illness afflicting them did not go away, but in fact got worse, and months of intense suffering ended in a funeral.
Conversely, there arethose in our midst who secretly mock and denigrate the Torah, who outwardly appear observant and G-d fearing, but inwardly reject a Torah lifestyle. They have no emunah, often taking credit for their good health or parnassah – attributing it to their own astuteness and superior abilities. Everything seems to go their way.
My issue with articles that imply that you get what you deserve, based on your level of sincerity and religious integrity, is that they inflict additional, baseless tzaar on people who don’t need to have guilt and self-doubt added to their considerable torment and pain.