Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Acceptance of Yisurim is M'chaper

I was a science major all the way through college.  I once decided to try something wild and crazy, so signed up for Psych 101.  I dropped the class after discovering that we had about 400 pages of reading to do each week and the tests would be on material from the reading even though they were not covered in lecture!  I did stay long enough to learn two things.  One was that not all differences make a difference.  For example, while it is true that black absorbs light better than brown, it is also true that brown shoes are not noticeable cooler than black shoes.  They therefore quantify the difference between two situation using a unit called "JND" (just noticeable difference).  Essentially, then, this course had a two JND effect on my life.

The second thing I learned is that when observing a situation, you have to be very careful to distinguish between correlation on the one hand, and cause-and-effect on the other hand.  For example, the density of bees in the courtyard at the Student Union would increase when the clock tower struck 12:00.  That's a correlation.  The density of bees increases as students take out their lunches.  That's cause and effect.  While that case is obvious, it is not always so obvious when there is cause and effect versus when there is merely correlation.

Case in point: there is a common misconception that yisurim are m'chaper; that suffering itself atones for sins.  The Mabit says that is wrong.  It is not the yisurim that are m'chaper, it is the acceptance to face and endure whatever is required to repair the damage done by the sin that is m'chaper.  When a person sincerely accepts whatever is required to repair the damage, he is immediately considered a tzadik gamur.  Immediately; no yisurim required.  On the other hand, there very often are, in fact, yisurim that come after a person does t'shuva.  Those are correlated with his kapara, but not the cause of his kapara.  Why would yisurim befall a tzadik gamur?  Lots of reasons.  Perhaps it is a gift to him so that he himself will never doubt the sincerity of his acceptance.  Perhaps it is a gift to allow him to be a vehicle for the kiddush HaShem generated when a tzadik accepts yisurim b'ahava.  Perhaps it is a gift to him to be an example to would-be sinners to make them think again.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...  One certainty: it is an amazing deal we are getting.  We cause damage and then we get rewarded for repairing that damage.  No wonder He is known as the Good Lord.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…