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Understanding Suffering

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Understanding Suffering Empty Understanding Suffering

Post  Admin on Sun 28 Jun 2009, 7:49 pm

Understanding Suffering

"Like a father who chastises his son, so YHVH chastises you." Deuteronomy 8:5

YHVH brings suffering on individuals so that they may reflect on their past behavior and correct those faulty character traits for the future.

1. The responsibility of the abuser

YHVH chose to give Pharaoh the task of causing suffering to the children of Israel because of his innate evil and cruelty. YHVH always finds the instrument of his purpose and He always matches the nature of the task with the nature of the worker. But why should Pharaoh be punished for carrying out YHVH's will? Didn't YHVH tell Abraham years before that his descendents would suffer as strangers in a strange land?
The Rabbis say that Pharaoh was punished for several reasons:
First, because he took joy in his work; if he had just done what YHVH wanted, rather then because he took pleasure in hurting, YHVH would not have punished Pharaoh, but rewarded him.
Second, because he caused much more suffering then YHVH intended. (Torah uses the words 'extreme', 'rigorous' and 'severe' to describe Israel's conditions under Egyptian slavery).
Third, because YHVH needed a strong and clearly defined adversary so that He could show His purpose and His desire to all. He took the greatest nation on earth and destroyed it, its army and its ruler; He took the most revered pantheon of gods on earth, including the River Nile, and destroyed it; He took the weakest and most despised people on earth, the children of Israel, and led them out of slavery and into freedom.

2. The responsibility of the abused

The natural human response to suffering is to find out why it is happening and how to stop it. Man's first feeling when suffering is guilt, as in: "What did I do to cause the suffering and what could I have done to advert the suffering". As believers in YHVH, instead of taking it personally, we ask "How can I grow through it, and what can I do to use this suffering in the service of YHVH." It is no longer suffering as punishment, but suffering as service.

3. YHVH promised us suffering and redemption

Torah tells us that suffering comes as a result of our behavior, and what we are to learn from it. The amount of time that we take in studying and applying that lesson is up to us. YHVH promised us that our suffering is not a sign of His lack of love or concern. When we suffer, He suffers with us. He promised that we will not be lost forever, that we will not be in Exile forever and that we will not suffer forever. When we learn from our mistakes and suffering we experience spiritual growth.

"He visits the sins of the parents on their children." Exodus 34:7
"Why do we pay for the mistakes of our forebears. The Talmud explains: When parents make mistakes and children refuse to learn from them and repeat the same mistakes, the children are held even more liable then the parents. As imperfect people, we are entitled to make mistakes but we must be careful not repeat mistakes others have made.

4. How are we to look upon another person suffering

We are forbidden to think that they deserve it. When we blame the victim for his suffering, we sympathize and identify with the abuser rather then the abused, and this is forbidden by Torah.
If we see a person doing what appears like a bad thing, we are to assume that we don't know all the circumstances, that we are not seeing the entire picture, and that it isn't really completely bad. Even if the person has a bad reputation we are still required to suspend judgment until more information can be obtained.
The same is when we see a person suffer. No one is perfect and some suffering is inevitable. We know that it is better to suffer in this world then to suffer in the World to Come, just like we know it's better to get our reward in the World to Come then to get it in this world. So, when we suffer in this world we understand that it is YHVH's good will and kindness that we suffer now and get His reward in the World to Come rather then the other way around.

Torah Studies: http://rinahshal. tripod.com /
Times of Refreshing I: http://rinah- -shalom.tripod. com/
Times of Refreshing II: http://rinah. shalom.tripod. com/
Moadim - Jewish Holidays: http://rinah- shalom.tripod. com/
His Word: http://rinahshalom. tripod.com/
Wisdom For Living: http://rinahshal. tripod.com/ wisdomforliving

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