A lesson from Rabbi Shimon about pain and sufferings
ברכות (ה ע”א): תניא, רבי שמעון בן יוחאי אומר: שלש מתנות טובות נתן הקדוש ברוך הוא לישראל, וכולן לא נתנן אלא על – ידי יסורין. אלו הן: תורה וארץ ישראל והעולם הבא
Rabbi Shimon tells us about the three precious gifts the Holy One Blessed be He gave to Israel, and all of them are given through sufferings. They are: Torah, the Land of Israel and the World to come.
Many people suffer greatly in their lives. Most of them cry to God with the question “Why? Why? Why?”. They ask for mercy and try to make ‘deals’ with God to get them out of the ‘pit’.
“וְיָדַעְתָּ, עִם-לְבָבֶךָ: כִּי, כַּאֲשֶׁר יְיַסֵּר אִישׁ אֶת-בְּנוֹ, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, מְיַסְּרֶךָּ.”
“Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, YHVH your God disciplines you.”
The Torah tells us that our relationship with God is like a father and his son. The father wants to bring his son to be the best that he could be. The son receives the Torah as a guide that teaches him the forces affecting his life. It provides tools allowing him to overcome any challenge on his path. Sometimes the son needs to go through a difficult process in order to elevate his understanding and abilities. The goal of life, as the Torah teaches, is not to seek temporary pleasures but the connection to the Tree of Life through the study of Torah, and following the ways of God.
“אַשְׁרֵי, הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר-תְּיַסְּרֶנּוּ יָּהּ; וּמִתּוֹרָתְךָ תְלַמְּדֶנּוּ”
“Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law,”
The purpose of the suffering is to cleanse the vessel from all selfish desires that block the light from coming in.
13 “לְהַשְׁקִיט לוֹ, מִימֵי רָע– עַד יִכָּרֶה לָרָשָׁע שָׁחַת”
“You give them relief from troubled times until a pit is dug to capture the wicked.”
The study of Torah through the Zohar is what gives us peace during the ‘troubled times’. These are the days before the coming of Mashiach that will initiate the process of eliminating all evil and negativity from the world.
The material body is built from materials of this world. It belongs and is controlled by the negative side. God puts the soul inside this body with the challenges to overcome the desires for the self, influenced by the negative side, and to seek the Light to reach a level of control over matter. It is a difficult process and God helps us by taking away what keeps us far from him.
Feeling any kind of lack creates void and empty space. This space creates greater desire for immediate fulfillment. Most people seek material replacement and usually go for the closest thing that is food. Some with money will go for shopping and some with long time lack and no alternative solutions may go to the extreme and eliminate the lacks by killing themselves.
Lacks in our lives can either stay dark and bring depression and miserable life or we can fill the space with Light.
When all the negativity is removed from the world it will affect our vessel. There will be no lack, and everything we need will be available without the process of earning. Selfish/material desires will be taken away too and if we don’t have enough Light in our vessel it will break without the opportunity to repair the vessel. The aspect of time and mercy is removed together with all negativity.
Going back to the three ‘gifts’ we now understand the great value of the Torah, the Land of Israel and the world to come.
Torah – for the receiving of the Torah we went through slavery in Egypt. For the new Torah of the Final Redemption we are going through hardship and slavery to the material world, distracting us from the main goal.
The Land of Israel – we had to go through the Holocaust. Like in the first journey to the promised land, the old generation died in the wilderness. Bringing the holiness to the land, the third temple is still in the process, and Israel doesn’t have a moment of peace, especially nowadays when the threat to its existence is very real. Obviously we will prevail because God is with us but the process of suffering is an integral part of it.
The World to come – It’s the individual process of suffering that each one of us is going through to purify his vessel and earn the merit of the Final Redemption and Immortality.