Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Why Me

Art Tricia McKellar

Excerpts from an article by Nechama Greisman

Sometimes people look at difficulties in life as a punishment. According to Chassidus, when a person has to face tests and challenges in life, this is not because he deserves punishment. Rather, he has to face challenges in order to raise him up to a higher level. HaShem would like him to bring out his emunah — his faith and trust in G-d, or his ahavas Yisrael, his love for a fellow, or for the Torah. Let’s say you have to contend with a very, very unpleasant person. You say, perhaps, “Why did HaShem make me the daughter-in-law of this woman who is so difficult to deal with?” You keep saying to yourself, “My friend has such a nice mother-in-law; how come I got her?”

The answer is that perhaps HaShem wanted… not perhaps. HaShem definitely wanted you to work on a certain trait and you would never know how to work on it if you didn’t have practice. So this difficult person that you have to deal with is a way of bringing out or working or strengthening those middos [traits] that might be weak in you, but not in your friend. That’s why she doesn’t have that test. This is not, G-d forbid, a punishment.

Tests, or nisyonos, can generally be classified into two groups. There are nisyonos of poverty, whether material or spiritual, and there are nisyonos of wealth, whether material or spiritual. In the simplest sense, when a person lacks something in life, whether it’s a lack of money or a lack of personality traits that we would like to have, or lack of husband or lack of parents, or any lack, anything that we think we should have, or want to have and we don’t have, that is called a nisayon of poverty. When a person has wealth, more than other people are endowed with, such as intellectual wealth, good looks, outstanding qualities of some sort, or simply a lot of money — this is a test of wealth.

Each kind of test is given to a person to develop a different kind of middah that is vital for true service of HaShem.

A person could spend his whole life being very discouraged, depressed and angry over his lot in life, and it will lead him nowhere. However, a Jew who is filled with Torah will learn to deal with his situation.

One must realize that if HaShem placed him in a particular situation, this is for a reason. It is something that is clearly necessary for him, and it is certainly for his benefit. There is a story about a man who had a terrible wife. Later on, he found out that in a previous incarnation he was guilty of a sin that carried the death sentence. However, instead of administering the death sentence, the Heavenly Court decided that he would have a wife who would regularly shame him in public. Each time this happened, it removed part of the death sentence. We don’t always realize that when we experience some negative situation, it is part of the account from the past or the present. I once read an article that was written by a famous dancer in the New York City Ballet. She described the painful exercises that she had to go through to keep fit for performing on stage. She described it as actual physical pain. When you read it you say, Ribono shel Olam, who would want to be a dancer? It is such a terrible life. But there were plenty of rewards and that’s why she did it.

Similarly [lehavdil], when a person is imbued with faith in HaShem, he knows that sometimes he has to pay a price for other good things in life. Every painful experience for the body is a tikkun [rectification] for the soul. Suffering cleanses. Of course, this does not mean that one should look for suffering, G-d forbid. But if this happens by Divine Providence, then one must accept suffering with love, knowing that it is for the person’s own good. 

Acceptance is the first thing that the test of poverty is supposed to bring out. To accept it and not say it was a mistake, I don’t deserve it, this is bad. To say, “HaShem understands why it happened. He knows that it was addressed to me, it wasn’t a mistake, it wasn’t meant for someone else. If I got it, it’s my package, and that it truly is for the good, whether I understand it or not.” 

If anybody here in this room has gone through a difficult time, and I think every one of us has, in different ways, you will know that it isn’t easy to say these words and truly internalize them and believe them. For some people it can be a lifetime task learning to accept with love what HaShem gives us. But you don’t learn that unless you have this test. If you never had a hard day in your life how are you going to learn to accept difficulties? So HaShem gives one person an illness, another one has a child who has a problem, another one is not pretty, or whatever.

Source: Chabad


Anonymous said...


Thanks a lot for sharing this text. It goes against what I thought one day, I'm in one of the situations presented by the text published, in case the material poverty and know how to handle it, even fighting day after day to deal with it, something that would be rationally out of logic, but Hashem does not Act with logic, the Eternal Act their Way.

Thank you very much Hashem for the tests. :)

Sorry for the mistakes of English, (if any)

Luiz Felipe - S.P. - Brasil

Mr. Cohen said...

Tanna DeBei Eliyahu Zuta, Chapter 1, Paragraph 6:
"...suffering does not come upon the Jewish People except through neglect of Torah study."