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Friday, March 27, 2015

Since When Did Theodicy Become a Dirty Word?

Rambam, beginning of Hilchot Ta'aniyot:
מצות עשה מן התורה לזעוק ולהריע בחצוצרות על כל צרה שתבא על הצבור. שנאמר על הצר הצורר אתכם והרעותם בחצוצרות. כלומר כל דבר שייצר לכם כגון בצורת ודבר וארבה וכיוצא בהן זעקו עליהן והריעו:

ודבר זה מדרכי התשובה הוא. שבזמן שתבוא צרה ויזעקו עליה ויריעו ידעו הכל שבגלל מעשיהם הרעים הורע להן ככתוב עונותיכם הטו וגו'. וזה הוא שיגרום להסיר הצרה מעליהם:

אבל אם לא יזעקו ולא יריעו אלא יאמרו דבר זה ממנהג העולם אירע לנו וצרה זו נקרה נקרית. הרי זו דרך אכזריות וגורמת להם להדבק במעשיהם הרעים. ותוסיף הצרה צרות אחרות. הוא שכתוב בתורה והלכתם עמי בקרי והלכתי גם אני עמכם בחמת קרי. כלומר כשאביא עליכם צרה כדי שתשובו אם תאמרו שהיא קרי אוסיף לכם חמת אותו קרי:

The Rambam tells us that we need to search out our souls when bad things happen and he says that if we don't, this is the path of cruelty.  Yes, this is the so-called "rationalist" Rambam.  This is why rabbis suggest improvements to work on.

For example, during the Carmel fire four Hanukkas ago, I posted a list of reasons given by the great rabbis of the generation.

This is why great Hachamim explained that we cannot say ידינו לא שפכו את הדם הזה and gave suggestions. Did they suggest strengthening our homes with smoke detectors? No - of course, that's important too - but rather, they felt it much more important to strengthen ourselves in spiritual ways, namely with Torah learning and especially the laws of Shabbat.

This is why the great Magidim of the generation like Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi and Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein cannot be silent when Teshuva is screaming out at us from the ashes.

Unfortunately, there are some misguided and misinformed bloggers who want to silence these Hachamim and Magidim. They believe that we should just suggest smoke detectors and that that is the root cause of the problem. Nothing is further from the truth. Some of these bloggers should know better.

May we only listen to our Hachamim to inform us on our Judaism.

15 Comments:

At Fri Mar 27, 12:34:00 PM 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since G-d told Iyov's friends not to offer pat answers to someone who is suffering.

We need to search our own souls, not tell others what sins they have committed.

 
At Fri Mar 27, 12:45:00 PM 2015, Blogger yaak said...

Anonymous 12:34,

That's referring to a personal suffering. When it's something that affects all of Kelal Yisrael like this tragedy did, see the Rambam above for the correct approach.

 
At Fri Mar 27, 01:32:00 PM 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Rambam does not say anything about Maggidim or Chachamim telling people which aveiros caused a tragedy, whether private or public. That requires a Navi. He says people have to look to their own aveiros and to pray, which I think no one would argue about.

 
At Fri Mar 27, 01:45:00 PM 2015, Blogger yaak said...

Anonymous 1:32,

In the absence of Nevi'im, we look to our Hachamim and Magidim to see what we need to work on. Of course, everyone should also look inward to see what they can work on themselves. But that is sometime insufficient by itself.

Unfortunately, there are people in society that think that they are perfect and that they don't need Mussar. Therefore, they're not going to look inward. The Hachamim and Magidim of the generation, who talk to myriads of people in Jewish society, are keenly aware what the generation's problems are and are sometimes pinpoint the problem better than each person individually.

The gemara - both Bavli and Yerushalmi - is replete with specific sins that cause specific plagues. To properly get an idea at what ails us spiritually, we need to go to a Hacham - just like we go to a doctor for a physical ailment.

 
At Fri Mar 27, 03:42:00 PM 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree 100% with Yaak. When bad things happen which affect the community of Yisrael, it is surely an indication of all the wrong that is going on and which we need to fix and do teshuvah. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to see every kind of evil which goes on today but yet is called 'good' and everyone is quiet. These evils also affect Jewish communities everywhere, but everyone seems to be asleep. The worst part is that usually the innocent and righteous pay for all the misdeeds and that should be the 'wakeup' call.

 
At Sat Mar 28, 12:09:00 PM 2015, Blogger Neshama said...

Placing blame on "things" is just an act of denial, a refusal to do a heshbon hanefesh on ourselves. Rabbi Mizrahi was so on target. I listen to him whenever I have some time. It feels so good for the neshoma. I don't consider him a Maggie, he's too young to be so knowledgable from all of Tanach. He's other worldly.

Excellent post, Yaakov, so very important for all to read.

 
At Sat Mar 28, 02:36:00 PM 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...


i agree rav mizrachi shlitah is real daat torah ,,,, every jew who breathes should listen to his torah .

 
At Sat Mar 28, 03:20:00 PM 2015, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

If this post in anyway refers to the fire which killed 7 Jewish children on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Nissan in the Flatbush neighborhood, I could just suggest that we can see the reference to these pure souls in the Musaph for Rosh Chodesh itself, "7 pure lambs." Along with everything else perhaps HaShem wants to do big things this Nissan of this last Shmittah year of Olam HaZeh, but we were found lacking in whatever area we have failed in, and 7 pure lambs were required yet again with no Beit HaMikdash to offer them up in. Why the site for the special Rosh Chodesh korban was the home of the Sasson family of Flatbush, I don't know why. But during the week of Shiva, I feel trepidation even writing this.

 
At Sat Mar 28, 03:51:00 PM 2015, Blogger Dov Bar-Leib said...

Shabbatot for menuchah and Roshei Chodeshim for Kapparah......

So the deaths were on Rosh Chodesh and the implement of death was a Shabbat plattah which cannot be turned on or off because of Shabbat rest. On regular Rosh Chadashim it says that that Rosh Chodesh is here "to save the souls (or lives) of (Klal Yisrael) from the hand of the Enemy". This is a dangerous time for all of Israel, and we need an extra measure of protection as we move forward into the month of Geulah with massive accusation from the 70 lowly nations of the world with the Satan snapping at our heels. Shavua tov.

 
At Sat Mar 28, 08:26:00 PM 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful analysis, Reb Dov.

Agree, as these were pure holy neshamalach, a'h. Now, let it be maspik and may H' send Moshiach already NOW.

 
At Mon Mar 30, 04:29:00 AM 2015, Blogger madaral said...

The prophet Jeremyahu (7:22) warned already in clear words. Yet, our fathers and the sages did not listen, until this very sad day.

For I did not speak with your fathers and I did not command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Mitzrayim about matters of offering and sacrifice.

 
At Mon Mar 30, 11:34:00 AM 2015, Blogger yaak said...

Madaral, that's quite a novel Pshat on that verse. Do you have a source for that Pshat or did you make it up?

 
At Mon Mar 30, 12:21:00 PM 2015, Blogger madaral said...

Just read the verse in context. "My anger will be poured out..." before the verse and after it: "But they did not listen, and they did not incline their ear, but followed their counsels and the visions of their evil heart, they went backward and not forward." I was just paraphrasing.

 
At Wed Apr 01, 09:02:00 AM 2015, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why is it always about tsnius or shabbes? why isn't it about bein odom lechavayro problems?

if this is what the eibishter is sending messages about, then lets all just make jewish ladies wear burkas and take long naps on schabbes. then there will never be another tragedy like this.

 
At Wed Apr 01, 12:13:00 PM 2015, Blogger yaak said...

Anonymous 9:02,

The explicit Hazal about fires caused by Hillul Shabbat comes to mind.

 

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