I'm writing these words a few days before my Father's Yahrzeit 16 Adar, Moshe Dovid ben Avraham Zev, z'l. They should be l'ilui nishmaso.
I want to start off these Questions and Answers by repeating what I've said before.
These are Questions and Answers based on Review Sheets that I gave out many years ago. I have elaborated and added to them. Much of this material has already been posted on my sichot and I will refer you to them (when I'll remember). However, there is a lot of new material, which I hope you will enjoy. Of course, these answers are not meant to be an exhaustive study on these basic questions. They are only a "tip of the iceberg" to whet your appetite to look up in the relevant seforim and learn more.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all those people who have taken the time to read my sichot and especially those who have sent beautiful letters which encourage me to try to produce more. I invite everyone to comment or ask questions. I do not profess to know all the answers. I also cannot guarantee that I will respond but, bli neder I will try.
11) Q. If Hashem wants us to do Mitzvos, then why did he create the "Yetzer Horo-Evil Inclination"?
A. Unfortunately, many of us think that the Yetzer Horo was not created by Hashem. Rather he is Hashem's opponent who battles constantly with the Yetzer Tov-Good Inclination, which is Hashem's emissary.
In fact, the Prophet Isaiah (45:6-7) says,
"... I am Hashem and there is no other. Forms light and creates darkness, makes peace and creates evil, [See "Sobering thoughts for Purim" where I speak about how to us it seems like "evil" but it is really "good"] I am Hashem who does all of these." (In the Shacharis Prayer, in the beginning of Birchos Krias Shema, we say this a little differently. Instead of "creates evil", we say "creates all.")
Rabeinu Sadiah Gaon (quoted by the Radak ibid.), says that this verse attributes even evil to Hashem. This is to exclude from those who maintain that there are two gods, one for good and one for evil. (See also commentary to the Artscroll Siddur on the beginning of Birchos Krias Shema).
Now we realize that Hashem even created the Yetzer Haro or "Devil" as some people like to call him. Unlike what John Milton leads us to believe in "Paradise Lost"
Consequently, we go back to the original question, why, indeed, did Hashem create him if he dissuades us from doing our job here (See Questions and Answers II #5) (doing Torah and Mitzvos)? It would have been much better and easier, apparently, to have been created only with the Yetzer Tov and motivation to do Torah and Mitzvos.
The key to this question lies in a point that I discussed in Questions and Answers II #6. I discussed why Hashem didn't send us straight to Olom Habo without having to work for it. In short I said the following:
"The Ramchal, in his sefer Derech Hashem, explains that Hashem (so to speak) wanted that we should have the most perfect pleasure. It is well known that one appreciates something more if he earns it as opposed as to getting a handout. This is called "Nahama Dekesufa"-Bread of Embarrassment.
My Rebbi would always illustrate this with a scenario of a poor fellow who was going from door to door collecting charity. When he came to one person's door, the person told him that he wants to hire him to get him some groceries. The poor man happily went to do the job and received $5 for his services. There is no question that the poor fellow was happier with this "wage" more than all the charity that he was forced to collect. This person allowed him to retain his dignity. It's also very possible that the person didn't need the groceries and just did it to make the poor man feel good.
I myself remember when I (believe it or not) worked as a waiter in a Summer camp. I had the youngest bunks who made the biggest mess. You can imagine that any tips that I received were not looked upon as charity, rather as well deserved wages."
Realizing this factor we can well understand that if we were created like robots or angels that are programmed to do only what's right, then there would be no big deal in doing Torah and Mitzvos. Consequently, any "reward" received for such actions would be nothing more than a handout.
So Hashem created obstacles such as the Yetzer Haro to try to persuade us to do wrong. However, he doesn't force us to do wrong. We have free will to use our Yetzer Tov to do battle and win. Of course, it's a tough battle, but that's why we receive such a tremendous reward - Olom Habo.
In fact the "Lev Eliyahu" (Breishis p. 81), shows us just how tough it really is. He brings from Rav Yisroel Salanter that there are three types of Yetzer Horo.
There is an inner Yetzer Horo our bad characteristic traits, such as jealousy, hatred. haughtiness, honor, desires....
Then there is an outer Yetzer Horo-outside persuasions that lead us to do bad deeds. These include all the tests that come our way by our business and the like and peer pressure, etc.
Finally, the third type is an "Evil Spirit" that rests on a person
Of course, we should not get discouraged when we realize how strong he is. On the contrary we should get a lot of chizuk-encouragement from this by reflecting on the following points.
Hashem wouldn't give us a test that is beyond our power, as this would defeat the whole purpose in giving us tests.
The Ramban -(Breishis 22:1) explains the purpose of Hashem giving "nisyonos-tests". He seems to be bothered with the obvious question. A teacher gives tests to see how you will do, because he doesn't know without it. However, Hashem Who is Omniscient, why does He need to test us? Doesn’t He know how we will do, without it?
The Ramban answers that Hashem doesn't give reward just for a "good heart" rather for good action. The fact that one has tremendous potential does not warrant reward. He must first bring it "min hakoach el hapoel"-from potential to deed. (Try telling this to your friend next time he says he is "A Jew in my heart").
Consequently, Hashem knows each individual's great potential and he wants to give us the opportunity to manifest it into action. Therefore, to each individual, He gives specific tailor-made tests to enable them to use their potential. What good would it be if the test is beyond us?
This being the case, we can face the test with a certain pride. If Hashem, Who knows my potential, gives me such a test, then He has confidence in me that I can pass it. I am proud that Hashem has such confidence in me. Why shouldn't I have such confidence in myself? How can I let Him down?
We can view this as if we were training to be a boxer and the trainer is setting up opponents to fight us. In the beginning he may only give us small time opponents. He would continuously upgrade our opponents in proportion with our improving capabilities. How would we feel if one day he decides that we are ready to book the World Champion. Needless to say, we would be scared, but at the same time we would feel so proud. We apparently have reached such a great height that the trainer actually thinks we can beat him.
Hashem, our trainer, is booking for each one of us on our level the World Champion.
We also have to remember what the Mesilas Yesharim says at the end of Chapter 2 that as long as we try our hardest, Hashem is rooting for us and He will help us win. He says:
"... One cannot defeat the yetzer horo without Hashem's help as the yetzer horo is very strong. As it says in Tehillim (37:32-33) "The Rosho waits for the Tzadik and wants to kill him. Hashem will not let him..." This is only if a person looks out for himself then Hashem will help him... but if he doesn't help himself then Hashem certainly will not help him... This is what it says in Pirkei Avos (1,:14), "Im ein ani li, mi li-If I'm not for me then who is for me?" (Now you know where Ben Franklin got, "G-D helps those who help themselves.")My Rebbi once told me an interesting story about this concept of "Free Will".
A certain fellow was having physchological problems. He was very depressed about doing certain aveiros-sins. His physchologist was one of these half baked Jews who think that if they know a little Rambam they know everything about the Torah. (As the saying goes in Yiddish, "A halba talmid chochom es erger vi a ganza am haoretz- [A person who is] a half a torah scholar is worse than a complete ignoramus." The former thinks he knows, the latter knows that he doesn't. As I once saw in the famous sayings of "Ching Chow" [a cartoon philosopher in the Daily News], "He who thinks he knows everything, knows nothing. He who knows that he knows nothing, knows a lot.")
The physchologist tried to persuade the fellow that he wasn't in control of his actions, and shouldn't feel guilty about it. When the fellow said that his Rabbis taught him about "Free Will", the doctor responded. "If "Free Will" is true then how come the Rambam doesn't include it in the 13 "Ani Mamins"-Principles of Faith? To prove his point, the doctor took out a siddur (most siddurim contain these "Ani Mamins" at the end of Shacharis) and challenged the fellow to find it there. The fellow desperately searched through all the "Ani Mamins" but couldn't find it.
Totally confused, the fellow approached Rabbi Yaccov Kaminetsky zt"l with this query.
Rav Yaccov zt"l told him that it certainly was included. The doctor just doesn't know how to look. He then took out a Siddur and pointed to the 11th Ani Mamin. It says, "I believe in perfect faith, that the Creator, blessed is His Name, gives good to those that heed His Mitzvos, and punishes those who transgress His Mitzvos." Rav Yaccov explained that this is in fact saying that we have "Free Will." Because if we were forced to do our actions, then how can we be held responsible for them. We shouldn't get reward or punishment for anything that we do. In fact, the Rambam himself, in Hilchos Teshuvah (5:4) brings this point as a proof for "Free Will."
There is another misconception that we have about the Yetzer Horo. We think that if we listen to him, at least we'll make him happy that he has succeeded in his mission. If we defeat him we'll make him sad because he has failed his mission. However, this is not true.
I once heard a moshol-parable from Rabbi Yaccov Galinsky explaining this misconception.
He tells of a King who wanted to really know how his subjects felt about him. He knew that all the respect that they gave him at the palace was a lot of baloney. They may really hate him but have to put on a show. One day he hits upon a plan that would help him find out the truth.
He disguises himself as a pauper and goes into the trains. There are three compartments there. In the first class there are all the elite of the aristocracy. The second contains the middle class. Finally the third is reserved for the low-lifes and dregs of society.
When he enters the first class he starts to curse, malign and make fun of the King. The cream of the aristocracy that were sitting there didn't seem to mind. In fact, they laughed and agreed with what this pauper said. Deep down, the pauper "King" was boiling mad, even though they agreed with him. Their agreeing just showed how disloyal they were to the King.
In the second class he got a mixed reaction. Some agreed and some disagreed with him. He left with a bitter-sweet feeling.
Finally, he entered the third class where all the hoboes were sitting. When they heard this pauper's choice words about the King, they reacted violently. They protested that the King was very merciful to them. He provided them with "Welfare", "Medicaid", and similar programs.They then started hitting the pauper with their sticks and canes. Although the "pauper" was in physical pain from their beatings, deep down inside, he was ecstatic because it showed their loyalty to the King.
This, explained Rabbi Galinsky, is exactly how the Yetzer Horo feels. He is a servant of Hashem who comes to see how loyal we are to his Master, Hashem.
If we listen to his persuasions, then he is sad. Our acquiescence just shows how disloyal we are to Hashem. On the other hand, when we beat him with "sticks" and tell him to go back to H--L where he came from, he is brimming with pleasure. "Look at such loyalty", he says.
Of course, we need a lot of Siyata DeShmaya-Divne Assistance to win this battle. It goes without saying, that Tefillah-Prayer is one of our most effective weapons. (I refer you to the "Superman Sicha-The Importance of Tefillah".)
We also cannot underestimate the power of the Yetzer Horo. For this I refer you to the sicha entitled, "The Greatest Game Ever Pitched or Never Underestimate the Power of the Yetzer Horo."
I'll end off this point with a beautiful vort that I heard from Rav Shalom Shwadron, may he have a refuah shleima.
At the end of the Birchos Hashachar-Morning Blessings, we say a special tefillah to keep us away from bad friends and influences. "... do not bring us to the "hand" (power) of transgression and sin... Let not the Evil Inclination dominate us... " Rav Shalom asks, "What is this concept of the "hand" of sin"? Wouldn't it suffice to say, do not bring us to sin?
In Pirkey Avos (2:1), we find a similar phrase, "Rabi says,.. . Consider three things and you will not come to the "hands" of sin. Know what is above you: an eye that sees, an ear that hears, and all your deeds are written in a book."
Here too, the term of "hands" of sin, requires explanation. Also, many people consider these three things, yet they still sin?
Rav Shalom answers this with a moshol-parable.
A Jew was once arrested by the police. On the way to the police station, the policeman was hungry, so he stopped at a Jewish fruit stand. The fruit store owner told his Jewish friend in Yiddish that he would distract the policeman, meanwhile he could escape. The captive replied mournfully, "Thank you. I wish I could, but don't you see? I'm handcuffed to the policeman. I can't get away from him."
Rav Shalom explained that the same thing is with sins and the Yetzer Horo.
Sometimes we want to run away from them, but alas to our horror, we discover that we are handcuffed to them. We get so submerged in this quicksand that it's very hard to get out.
To be perfect and not sin is nearly impossible. As it says in Koheles (7:20) "...there is no Tzadik in the land that will do only good and not sin."
The Mishna is not saying that if we look at these three things, we will never sin. Rather, we won't get to the "hands" of the sin. That is we won't be handcuffed, and when we want to escape, we will be able to.
May Hashem accept our prayers and may it be fulfilled what we say: "... Do not bring us to the "hand" (power) of transgression and sin... Let not the Evil Inclination dominate us..."
12 Q. Why do Tzadikim- Righteous suffer? (Some ask it this way-Why do bad things happen to good people?
13 Q. Why do reshoim- wicked people prosper?
14 Q. How can we understand the saying, "Not even the greatest philosopher can explain the death of one innocent child"?
A. I put these questions together because they all hinge on one point.
As it says in Pirkei Avos (4:15, In the Siddur it's 19):
"Rabbi Yanai says, It is not in our power to understand the tranquillity of the wicked or the suffering of the righteous. "I read a beautiful book about judging people favorably - Dan L'chaf Zechus. It is called "The Other Side of the Story", by Rebetzin Samet.
One of the major factors she mentions is that many times when we see things, and we really think that we have all the facts. In truth, though, WE ARE MISSING INFORMATION. Consequently we cannot judge the case correctly.
She tells of a photographer who was rejected from a job because in the last job he had, he came late and missed half of the bar-mitzvah. Everybody at the bar-mitzvah could attest to this fact and it didn't seem like he could have a good defense.
When the photographer was confronted he filled in the missing information. "I was not the photographer hired for that bar-mitzvah. The one who was hired, didn't show up. In the middle of the bar -mitzvah, I got an emergency call. Please come to substitute for the fellow who didn't show up. I was busy, but I dropped everything to do the guy a favor, That's why I came in the middle of the bar-mitzvah."
It is quite obvious that we have to certainly judge Hashem favorably, and realize that WE ARE MISSING A LOT OF INFORMATION-EVEN THINGS THAT WE CAN'T POSSIBLY KNOW.
(There is a wonderful book called "Longing for Dawn" by Rabbi Nachman Bulman, Feldheim Publishers, that discusses a lot of these points. Many people sitting shiva -mourning even for young babies, chas v'shalom, have found much solace and consolation from this book).
First of all who said that this person is "good". He may look to our eyes as a tzaddik but Hashem sees in the heart not just the outside. Also only Hashem knows if a person is using his full potential or not. As it says in Shmuel I (16:7):
"... . Man sees what the eye can see (only what is visible to his eye - Mahri Karo commentary ibid.), but Hashem sees in the heart (of a person)."Likewise, who said that what happened is "bad"? Sometimes what seems bad to us, is really a "blessing in disguise". What looks bad today may just be the cause of a good thing tomorrow. (I elaborated on this point in "Sobering Thoughts for Purim")
They tell a joke about a fellow who came off the boat from Europe, looking for a job. He found out that they needed a Gabai (sexton) in the shul. When he got there he was informed that he needs to know how to read and write in order to fulfill his duties. He didn't know and he was not accepted. Swallowing his disappointment and pride he went into the rag business. He started out with a little pushcart on the Lower East Side and little by little he built up his business. Within a matter of a few years, Siyata DeShamaya (Heavenly Assistance), and wise investments he became a millionaire. He opened up a bank account, but still couldn't read or write. He would sign his name with an "X". Once one of the tellers who knew this wealthy man was shocked to see him signing an "X". The teller exclaimed, "If this is how successful you are without knowing how to read and write, imagine where you would be if you did know." The wealthy man responded, "If I knew how to read and write, then I would be the gabai in a shul."
This is an example of what looked like a terrible thing - not knowing how to read and write, was just a momentary understanding. Later on in retrospect he saw it was the cause of his future success.
I like to compare it to a fellow who gives in his film to develop. He knows nothing about photography and when he comes to the store he is shocked. He asked to see the pictures, and the clerk said they weren't finished. He wanted to see them anyway so the clerk just gives him the negatives without telling him that the real pictures are coming soon. With one look the fellow is convinced that photogrophy is a waste of time and money. Look how ugly and black they come out. What he fails to realize is, that this is the necessary preparation to get the real beautiful pictures that are coming momentarily.
Even if we don't see the good in this world and the fellow seems to be a real tzaddik, there are still a few points to consider.
We can only see what is going on in this world, (and even that not so clearly) but we can't know what is going on in shomayim-heaven.
In "Letter to an Alumnus II" I bring down the Chofetz Chaim who discusses this point.
In his sefer "Shem Olom" Shaar Shmiras Shabbos, Chapter 3 footnote*** he basically asks, "If there is Divine Providence in this world, then why are there righteous people who are poor, and less righteous people who are rich?"
One of the Chofetz Chaim's approaches is the following moshol-parable. A person comes to visit a shul one shabbos in a town that he was never in before. He sees how the Gabai gives the aliyos by calling two people from the east of the shul, three from the north...
This vistor complains, why didn't you give more aliyos to the east where the important people are and other such questions. A wise man answers that this visitor is here for only one Shabbos. How could he expect to understand the whole order of the aliyos? If he would be here many Shabbosim, then he would see the perfect order of the gabbai. Many of the people from the east got aliyos the previous week. That's why they were skipped this week.
So too, the Chofetz Chaim concludes, we are on this world for a very short stay. How could we expect to understand G-d's perfect plan?! If we were around for many hundreds of years we might have seen how this righteous person who is currently poor, was a rich man in a previous gilgul-reincarnation. Unfortunately, his wealth led him to do sins. But now, in his present gilgul, Hashem is giving the fellow a chance to do mitzvos as a poor person, perhaps he'll be more successful. This will also atone for the sins which he did in his previous gilgul. [The Chofetz Chaim says in the name of the Arizal, that nowadays almost all of the neshomos - souls are gilgulim.]
But since we are only here for a short stay, we do not see the entire story. We therefore have to go with faith and belief that whatever Hashem does is for our best.
He also says that in general a person should not complain at all about suffering as is evident form the following Midrash. "Yitzchok Avinu upon realizing the severity of Midas Hadin - Divine Justice in the future, requested that Hashem give suffering [to atone for our sins in an "easier" way]. Hashem replied that it is indeed a great thing and suffering will begin with Yitzchak Avinu. For this reason Yitzchok became blind. At this stage I refer you to the "Jerry Lewis -Gam zu L'Tovah Sicha" on the Internet, where this midrash is explained at length.
The Chofetz Chaim concludes that he heard from a trustworthy sage who heard directly from a certain Gaon Rav Yaccov Moshe who said over from his grandfather the Vilna Gaon; "Without suffering we would not find our hands and feet in this world" [we would not be able to exist]. This is beautifully illustrated in the following scenario of what happens after one dies and is brought to judgment.
The neshomo sees a scale to weigh her mitzvos and aveiros to see which will outweigh which. A voice rings out that all his merits should gather to this scale and they come and ascend the right side of the scale. Then the voice rings out for the sins to gather. They all come and they are much more then his merits for two reasons. First, in quantity. Secondly, in quality, since the sins were done with great desire and gusto they are very strong. However, the mitzvos are weak as they were done begrudgingly and without zeal. Consequently the sins far outweigh the mitzvos. The person then bemoans and thinks of his imminent verdict of being pronounced a rosho. His thoughts are interrupted by another proclamation, that all the suffering that he endured his entire life should gather. Immediately they come and join ranks with his mitzvos on the right hand side of the scale. Together they far surpass his aveiros, because the suffering, he endured atoned for many his sins. His verdict is given as a tzadik and he is overjoyed and thanks Hashem for all that he has endured. [Till here is what the Chofetz Chaim heard].
Rav Shabsi Yudelevitch, Z'TL, quoted in the sefer "Lekach Tov" on Breishis, p. 142, tells a similar story, but with an interesting twist.
A fellow was having sickness, much suffering and lacked sustenance. One day he told his wife that he decided to travel to the great Tzadik and Kabalist, Rav Sholom Sharabi, z'tl. Perhaps he can help him understand Hashem's way of dealing with him, and what can be done to better his lot. Upon his arrival he was told, by the Rebetzin, to remain seated and wait until the great Tzadik would be available. The long and arduous trip took its toll and he immediately fell into a deep sleep. He dreamt that he was present at a scenario similar to the one described earlier by the Chofetz Chaim. His trial was in process and his sins outweighed his mitzvos. Then all his sufferings came and it looked like they may tip the scale in his favor. But, alas, to his horror, even after all his sufferings ascended the scale, his aveiros very slightly tipped the scale against him. At this stage he began to scream bitterly, "[If only they would] Give me a little more suffering." At the sound of his scream, he woke up and realized that it was all a dream. The household also heard it and came in to see what happened. The man just got up and headed for the door to leave the house. The Rebetzin inquired, "Didn't you want to speak to the Rav?"
The man responded, "There is no need anymore, I received the proper reply from Heaven!"
To sum it all up we basically can say as follows:
We are not prophets to know exactly why the tzadikim suffer or the wicked prosper. These are some of the possibilities. (Some of them are discussed in the Radak in Hoshea (14:10, s. v. "v'tzadikim yelechu bom".)
a) He is not a real tzadik. He only looks that way.
b) This is not "bad", rather the beginning of something good.
c) The tzadik may have done sins when he was younger. Hashem is atoning for it here rather then in Gehinom which is harder.
d) Sometimes Hashem gives suffering to the tzadik to increase his reward in Olom Habo. As the Gemoro Brachos 5a says that if one has no sin to attribute his suffering to, then they are "yissurin shel ahavah-suffering out of love."
Rashi explains: "yissurin shel ahavah"- "Hashem makes him suffer in this world, without sin, to increase his reward in Olom Habo more than his merits [warrant]."
e) It can be a nisayon-test for us to question Hashem's justice to persuade us to chas v’shalom leave the true path. If tzadikim always prospered and reshoim always suffered, it would take away our free choice.
As far as a rosho prospering, there are certain possibilities. (Again, I stress we are not prophets to know exactly why. These are only some of the possibilities).
a) it's a nisayon as we mentioned before.
b) It's possible that the rosho did a mitzvah and deserves reward (even answering "Amen" and "Yehey Shmei rabboh" deserve great reward). He doesn't deserve reward in Olom Habo, so Hashem gives it to him here.
As the Torah says in Parshas VaEschanan (Devorim 7:10) "And He [Hashem] pays his enemies to their face (while they're alive - Rashi ibid.) to destroy him (from Olom Habo- Rashi).
The Chofetz Chaim gives a moshol about this point.
A King had a very close friend. The King revealed all the top secrets to this person. Later this friend was caught selling the secrets to the enemy.
Needles to say, he was condemned to death. The King, however, wanted to have him die in such a way that he would be an example to the whole kingdom. They built a glass room in the center of town. The fellow was given his last meal and then was locked in the room to die of starvation. The King invited all the people to come and witness what happens to traitors.
At first the fellow was full from the meal and just smiled and read books. Then as time went on he became hungry. People came with their food and when he saw them, he got more hungry. A few days later he was pacing the floor and climbing the walls. Finally, he couldn't take it any longer and he sat down and started to eat his own flesh!
Meanwhile, people were coming from all over the kingdom to see this. For some it was a long journey. One father and son came and saw the man eating. The son asked if this was the man who was supposed to die of starvation. When they said yes, he asked how come he was eating meat?
They said, "Sure, he's eating meat, but don't you see, it's his own flesh?"
So too, the Chofetz Chaim explained, The rosho eats meat (gets reward in this world) but it's his own flesh (he's eating his share in Olom Habo).
I was once present by a lecture of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, when someone asked him to comment on this aphorism.
"Not even the greatest philosopher can explain the death of one innocent child." [There was a terrible tragedy then in Eretz Yisroel. Arab terrorists had killed some young school children. This was many years ago, but unfortunately, it happened again recently, Hashem Yishmirenu. This prompted the question].
He answered, "That's because they're philosophers. They can only explain things with what they see here. Here there is no way of understanding things like these. We Jews know and believe that there is Olom Habo, Gilgulim - reincarnations and Hashem, so we know that there are many possibilities."
Who knows if maybe the soul of this child just had to be reincarnated for a short period in order to do a certain job or fix up what it messed up in a previous gilgul? When the job was finished the neshomo longs to go to Heaven. In fact, murder by a goy, for being Jewish, is a Kiddush Hashem which puts the soul on the highest level in Olom Habo.
There is a story about a couple who were childless for many years. They came to the Baal Shem Tov for a beracha. That year the wife gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. They were very happy and raised the child in the Torah way. Then to their horror, when the child turned three, he got sick and died.
Broken-hearted, they returned to the Baal Shem Tov for consolation. The Baal Shem Tov said that he wanted to tell them a story.
"Once there was a King who had everything but a child. He wanted very much to have a son to succeed him, so he went to his advisers for help.
They told him that the Jews could pray for him and then he would get a son. The King made a decree that if he doesn't get a son by next year, all the Jews would have to leave. Naturally, the Jews fasted and prayed, and Hashem heeded their prayers. The King was blessed the following year with a handsome baby boy, who was blessed with a wisdom far beyond his years.
The King gave his son the best of everything. He had a special teacher for the smart prince. It was the King's Bishop. The Bishop taught the prince the whole day and saw how bright and inquisitive he was.
The Bishop allowed the prince to ask what he wanted, but he had one request. For ten minutes every day the Bishop would go into a room and lock the door. He asked the prince not to disturb him or ask anything about it.
One day, the three year old prince could not resist his curiosity. He managed to get a duplicate key to the Bishop's room and walked in.
What he saw amazed him. The Bishop was wearing strange straps on his hand and head and crying while reading some sort of prayer book. The prince demanded an explanation, so the Bishop unburdened his heart to the young child.
He explained that he was really a Jew, who was forced to give up his religion. However, deep in his heart, he still yearned to go back to the religion of his forefathers. Meanwhile he was putting on Tefillin.
The child was so intrigued by Judaism, that he wanted to learn all about it. The Bishop swore him to secrecy and taught him all about it. The smart child saw the truth of Judaism and the falsehood behind the other religions.
Eventually the child left the palace, converted and lived the life of a Tzadik. When he died, he came to Heaven and they were waiting to escort him to a very high place.
There was one problem, however. Since the first three years of his life he was brought up as a gentile, he had to do something to atone for it.
It was decided that his soul would be sent down for another three years to live as Jew. He was born to a righteous couple who brought him up in the proper way so his soul can now take its rightful exalted place in Heaven."
The Baal Shem Tov concluded, "Your son was the prince in the story, and you had the great merit to help an exalted soul reach its true level in Heaven."
The couple thanked the Baal Shem Tov and left with much lighter hearts.
The problem is sometimes the guy says that he doesn't believe in gilgulim or olom habo. Consequently he has a claim against Hashem that you can't answer.
Usually, such people aren't looking for answers. If they are, then I can only compare it to the following.
A fellow comes to a doctor with certain symptoms. The doctor takes all kinds of tests that all point to Cancer, chas v'shalom. He wants to explain to the patient what ails him. The patient, however, says that he doesn't believe in cancer. So the doctor says that if that's the case he can't explain it to him.
The doctor says that he can explain the problem withhis current medical knowledge. If you don't believe in it then I can't explain it to you with what you think "medical knowledge" is. If the fellow has any brains in his head he yields to the doctor. After all, what does he know about medicine? Perhaps he read a couple of articles in the "Reader's Digest". Obviously, the doctor, who specialized and studied medicine for many years must know more than he.
With Torah it should also be the same. The Rabbi, who probably knows more about Torah than we do, can explain these questions with authentic Torah knowledge. He can't explain it with a "Torah" that we make up, picking and believing what we like and deleting what we don't. If we have any brains we would realize, How much Torah do I know? I attended yeshivahs, (or was it their dormitories?) for a couple of years. I read a few articles in the Torah journal and learned a little Rambam. Obviously, the Rabbi who specialized and studied Torah for many years must know more than I. But when it comes to Torah everybody thinks that they know best.
I will end off with a true story, that illustrates this point.
A certain bochur in Yeshivah had an aunt who was returning to authentic Judaism. This aunt had an Orthodox Rabbi. She also had a dentist who wasn't religious. Many times she would relate to the dentist some of the arguments and points that the Rabbi would say in favor of Orthodoxy.
The dentist would insist that the Rabbi was wrong and that he didn't know what he was talking about. He said to the woman to relay this to her Rabbi.
The woman went back to her Rabbi with this information. (I'm not going into the sheila if this is considered "rechilus" a form of tale bearing or not. It probably depends on what her intentions are for relaying the information).
The Rabbi asked the woman what dental work the dentist did for her. She said it was a root canal. The Rabbi looked at her tooth where the work was done. He then told the woman to tell the dentist that the Rabbi says it was a lousy job.
When she reported this to the dentist, he blew up.
"What chutzpah!!! Who is he that he can judge my dental work?! How many years of medical and dental school did he go to, that he thinks he is a dental authority???"
Of course, the Rabbi was expecting this reaction and knew just what to tell the lady.
"Please tell your dentist that I understand that I cannot be an authority to understand and give an opinion on his dentistry because of my lack of erudition in that realm. By the same token, he should understand that the same criticism can be given to his outspoken opinions about my Torah. How many years did he learn Torah? Which kind and how authentic was it?"
The bottom line is that any questions and problems we have are not due to chas v'shalom a deficiency in Hashem. Rather it is our lack of comprehension.
Just like if we fail to understand the famous theory of Relativity, E=MC², we realize that the fault doesn't lie with Einstein. Rather it lies with our puny minds that can barely understand normal math, let alone the theory of Relativity. Yet Einstein was a human being like we are. How much more so, must we realize that our puny minds cannot even begin to fathom even one iota of Hashem's Ways of running the world.
May Hashem help us to learn the truth, realize how much we don't know and understand that Hashem is Perfect. It's just our intellect that cannot grasp Him.
May Moshiach come speedily, and the words of Isaiah (25:8) be fulfilled ;
"Bila Hamoves Lonetzach, Umocho Hashem Elokim dimah meal kol panim... -May He swallow up death forever and may Hashem Elokim wipe away tears from every face..."And the Posuk (11:9);
"... Ki Moloah hooretz deah es Hashem kamayim layom mechasim. -.. . For the land is filled with knowledge of Hashem, as the water covers the sea." Amen.List of Rabbi Price's sichot