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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.

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