Friday, March 24, 2017

Suffering and Debt

Dovid HaMelech in Sefer Tehillim [Psalms 25:18] makes the following request of Hashem: “Look at my affliction and toil and bear all my sins.”

The seventh bracha of the Amidah, “Re’ah [Na] V’anyenu” ["Look… at our afflictions"] closely parallels this passage in Tehillim, and it is, in fact, the only bracha in the Amidah where we ask Hashem to “look” at something for us.

It is said in the name of the Apter Rav that if a person is suffering, he should affirmatively acknowledge and state “may my pain and suffering be a kapara [atonement] for all of my sins”. In this way, a person acknowledges that the purpose of his suffering or affliction is not meaningless or some kind of torture, but to achieve redirection and/or atonement. With this affirmative acknowledgement, the kapara is achieved.

"Gam zu le'tova" : this too is for the best

"Zol zein a kapara" : it should be accepted as a recompense for punishment.

Rebbe Nachman said : "There are sins whose punishment is debt. One who is punished for such a sin is constantly in debt. All the merit in the world does not erase his punishment. He can do every possible good, still he must remain in debt.

These sins can even cause others to fall into debt. When such transgressions become common, there are many debtors in the world.

The remedy for this is to repent in general for all your sins. Even though you do not know what sin is causing these debts, repent in general and ask G-d to also save you from this particular sin.

If the Torah were written in order, we would know the precise reward and punishment for each commandment."

[Rebbe Nachman]


Anonymous said...

Read "Tests, Suffering and Torah":

Josef Obikiel said...

I can't help but reflect upon little children who innocently suffer with various childhood cancers and their parents going into debt due to the high cost of medical treatment. Are we insinuating transgression is the cause of this suffering? Please, I'm not trying to be argumentative, I want to know the truth. Perhaps I've misunderstood Rebbe Nachman

Devorah said...

When it comes to children and cancer: the first answer is that we don't know, the second answer is that the cause is from a previous lifetime. There is also the concept of a child suffering for the community or the family, as terrible as that may sound. I prefer the ''previous lifetime'' answer: the soul brings with it some un-fixed issues from its previous life.

Anonymous said...

And have these divine punishments, if you believe that is what they are, generally improved our morals, beliefs and behaviour, one iota, over the millennia?

Devorah said...

As Rabbi Kessin explains in many of his shiurim, there are 3 ways to achieve tikkun olam [perfecting the world]. The first is by doing all the mitzvot as set out in the Torah, obviously most people sin along the way as we are far from perfect. So we have the option of doing teshuva, and changing our ways. But the third option is suffering. Our suffering atones for our sins. In this way, the generation does not have to be perfect [which is impossible anyway] but we do get an extra dose of suffering to make up for all our sins. Sometimes a great tzaddik will take on the suffering for the entire community. Sometimes people die as a kapparah for the community. I can't remember the exact shiur in which he is talking about this, but it was recently. Click on the Kessin label, which I've added below this post, to find his lectures.