Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

Continuing with the previously mentioned theme that G-d’s ways are unfathomable to our human minds, we find another example that Rebbe Nachman speaks about in Sichos HaRan #64.

The Rebbe tells us: “One act of goodness can result in a position of prominence that endures for generations.” But often there is a limit to this and their position of power must come to an end.


“The kings of Israel exemplify this teaching. Because of one meritorious act, they were worthy of maintaining the royal line for four generations. As a reward for destroying the idols, G-d told Jehu, “Your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel” (cf. II Kings 10:30, 15:12).

“This is difficult to understand,” says Rebbe Nachman. “After the fourth generation, their kingship must come to an end no matter what they do. They can do exactly the same thing that merited this royalty in the first place and it will be of no avail. The decree from Above is sealed and they must forfeit the throne after the fourth generation. The decree against their fathers determines their fate.”

“Although their ancestor earned the throne because of a certain good deed, the inheritors cannot use similar merit to remain. They can do the exact same deeds as their ancestor, but these are no longer of any avail. No matter what they do, it has already been decreed that their generation will lose the throne. This is a great wonder. Understand it well.”

This teaches us that G-d’s ways cannot be understood. It may be decreed from Above that one person will not achieve distinction. No matter what merit they have. Yet another person may earn four generations of fame for a single worthy deed.

As Rebbe Nachman has already taught us, “It is fitting and proper that the Creator tower above and be elevated beyond our minds, on account of which difficult questions arise. But if His conduct was as our minds imagine it should be, His mind would resemble ours, G-d forbid” (Likutey Moharan II, 52:1).

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Rabbi Nosson Rossman is a rabbinic field representative for the Orthodox Union. He can be reached at [email protected].