"I will speak that I may find relief; I will open my lips
and answer" (Iyov 32:20). To quiet the storm raging
within me I am forced to divulge my thoughts.
The Ramban (at the end of parshas Bo, Shemos
13:16) writes that ever since people began worshiping
avoda zorah at the times of Enosh, people's
emunah has become warped. Some rejected Hashem's
existence and claimed the world always existed: They have
denied Hashem and they have said, "It is not so!" Some
denied Hashem's being omniscient, of having infinite
awareness, understanding, and insight. They said, `How does
Elokim know? Is there knowledge in the most High?'
(Tehillim 73:10). Others although admitting Hashem's
limitless awareness denied His providence: `You made men
like the fish of the sea' (Chabakuk 1:14), believing
that Hashem does not supervise what people do, and neither
does He punish them nor reward them, and they declare,
Hashem has forsaken the land' (Yechezkel 8:12).
"When Elokim cherishes a community or individual and
performs a miracle for them through changing the customary
and natural order of the world, all become aware how
erroneous these ideologies are. The wondrous miracle shows
that the world has an Elokim Who renews it, Who has
total awareness, Who supervises it, Who rewards and
punishes, and Who is omnipotent.
"When that miracle is previously prophesied through a
novi the trueness of nevu'ah becomes apparent -
- 'Elokim does talk with man' (Devorim 5:21)
and reveals His secret to His servants the prophets'
(Amos 3:7), and it confirms the whole Torah. The
Torah therefore writes about miracles, 'That You may know I
am Hashem in the midst of the earth' (Shemos 8:18).
These miracles show His providence, that He has neither
abandoned the world nor allowed things to happen
accidentally, as their ideology dictates."
Afterward the Ramban writes: "No person has a part in
Toras Moshe unless he believes that both everything
what we intentionally do and what occurs to us are all
miracles, there being no natural or customary way of the
world in them. This [axiom] effects both the public and the
individual. When we do mitzvos our reward will bring us
success, but if we commit sins our punishment will cause our
extinction. Everything happens through a Divine decree, as I
have already mentioned. The covert miracles will become
known to all when what the Torah has destined concerning
brochos and kelolos materializes, as the Torah
writes, Then all the nations shall say, 'Why has Hashem
done thus to this land?' (Devorim 29:23). Then men
shall say, 'Because they have forsaken the covenant of
Hashem Elokim, of their fathers' (ibid., 24). All
nations will later know that their punishment is from
Hashem. The Torah writes about our fulfilling the Torah,
`All people of the earth shall see that you are called by
the name of Hashem, and they shall be afraid of you'
We have merited a special Divine Benevolence, with Heaven's
name having been sanctified in an exceptional way. When Ehud
Barak, the Prime Minister, and his cabinet trumpeted the
beginning of a "Secular Revolution" but instead received the
"Arab Revolution," we all saw, "The kings of the earth set
themselves and the rulers take counsel together against
Hashem and against His anointed, saying, `Let us cut their
bonds asunder and cast away their cords from us.' He who
sits in the heavens laughs, Hashem will mock them. Then He
shall speak to them in his wrath and terrify them in His
burning anger" (Tehillim 2:2-5). This marvelous
wonder shows that the world has a ruler Who renews it, Who
is aware of all that happens, Who supervises over it, and
Who is omnipotent.
Moreover, Hashem revealed this course of events through His
novi Yechezkel (20:32): "That which comes into your
mind shall never come about, that you say, 'We will be like
the nations, like the families of the countries, to serve
wood and stone.' As I live, say Hashem Elokim, surely with a
mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with anger
poured out, will I be king over you." Chazal (Rosh
Hashanah 32b) tell us: "R' Nachman said: If only
HaKodosh Boruch Hu would be angry in that way with us
and redeem us."
This Divine sign calls upon us to repent thoroughly, to
become complete baalei teshuvah, as the Ramban
writes, "This shows His providence, that He has not
abandoned the land and allowed things to happen
accidentally, as their ideology dictates." We should not
analyze what has happened in a way derived from low-grade
emunah. The Tanna in Ovos (4:15) writes, "R'
Yanai says: 'It is not in our power to explain either the
tranquility of the wicked or the suffering of the
righteous.'" But when HaKodosh Boruch Hu
punishes the reshoim, without any doubt, as the
Ramban writes, "It will later become known to all the
nations that their punishment is from Hashem."
The Sha'ar Bas Rabbim writes: "I heard from HaRav
HaGaon R' Shimon Sobatsky z'l of Warsaw about the
gaon R' Yaakov Lipshitz z'l of Danzig, the
author of Tifferes Yisroel on all of the
Mishnayos (HaRav S. Sobatsky was the friend of R'
Yaakov Lipshitz). He said that once a certain rich, powerful
and violent man who was one of the Danzig community's
leaders passed away. The deceased disregarded fulfilling
mitzvos and acted improperly. This community leader
died suddenly, Rachmono litzlan, in the middle of
doing some aveira.
That gaon went to console the mourners, the deceased
sons, and told them as follows: Dovid Hamelech said in
Tehillim (9:17): "Hashem is known by the judgment
which He executes; the wicked is snared in the work of his
own hands. Reflect on this, Selah." Dovid asks: When is it
known that Hashem has judged and punished, that He is feared
and sanctified by people? He answers: This is when, "The
wicked is snared in the work of his own hands." When the
rosho is snared in the midst of engaging in an
aveira we should "reflect on this, Selah." This is
what people reflect about. One says to the other: "You see
that person who committed a sin did not finish it until he
was punished." In this way Hashem's name is sanctified. "The
wicked will return to the depths of the grave" (ibid., 18).
If Hashem does not castigate them immediately for their
wickedness, but is patient with them until they return to
the depths of the grave, and only then punishes them in
Gehennom for their wicked acts, then, "all the
nations that forgot Elokim" (ibid.). Hashem's name is
not sanctified and they will, chas vesholom, forget
Elokim and His judgment.
I want you to know that your deceased father did so and so,
he committed this and that sin, and Hashem punished him that
he should pass away suddenly before his time. If you do not
better yourself, but instead follow your father's ways, the
attribute of Hashem's judgment will also affront you and
punish you as your father. These were the consolations of
that gaon and tzaddik. After hearing this the
sons became his enemies and persecuted him, but he remained
righteous. His heart did not sink and he did not regret what
he had said."
I saw cited in the name of HaRav Yitzchok Zeev Soloveitchik
zt'l that when a bus of a company known for its
chilul Shabbos suddenly caught fire, Maran said:
"Shabbos is demanding punishment for its being humiliated.
This is the fire of Shabbos!" People asked him: "Do we not
see such happenings by others as well, although they are not
mechalel Shabbos?" Maran the Brisker Rav answered:
"That is not a contradiction. For other incidents are other
explanations, but here it happened because of
I remember when I was a boy and studied in the Beis
Knesses Hagodol of Netanya, a tragic car accident took
place on Thursday. On Shabbos afternoon the baalei
batim assembled to pray mincha and while waiting
for the time to start the tefillah each one explained
what happened for another earthly-based reason. Suddenly an
elderly Jew who was sitting the whole time in the corner
saying Tehillim stood up and screamed out: "What type
of nonsense are you saying? I was the wagon driver of Maran
the Chofetz Chaim and he would always say that Shabbos
demands punishment for its being humiliated. If car
accidents occur it is only because people ride on Shabbos."
This is what the wagon driver of Maran the Chofetz Chaim
understood what should be said, but what about us?
I remember a year ago the Prime Minister said, "It is
inconceivable to block for several hours the highway because
of the sanctity of Shabbos." Now the highways are blocked
for several weeks because of rock throwing and shooting. Is
this not that the Shabbos is demanding punishment for its
It is obvious that not only is it forbidden to tell them
that this happened by accident, but we must search for the
specific aveira that caused this punishment. Chazal
(Brochos 5a) write: "If a person sees that he is
suffering, he should examine how he acts" (Rashi explains
that he should try to ascertain what aveira has
caused this suffering).
"If he examined his acts and did not find any reason for
this suffering he should ascribe it to bitul Torah
[the source of all aveiros]. If he did not find that
this is the reason either, then he can assume it is
hardships of love" (suffering given by Hashem to cleanse man
from his sins so he can merit Olam Haboh).
The gemora later on (5b) writes: "Four hundred
barrels of wine belonging to Rav Huna turned sour. Rabbonon
told him to examine how he acts since HaKodosh Boruch
Hu is not suspected to punish without justifiable
reason. Rav Huna said to them, 'If you heard something
about me that I should rectify please tell me.' They told
him: We heard that you do not give to your sharecropper his
share from the grapevine shoots, and we learned in a
Mishnah, "Just as we must divide wine with the
sharecropper so must we divide the shoots and twigs with
him." See Tosafos and the Rashba what they commented about
We see clearly from Chazal that if, chas vesholom, an
individual suffers he should attribute it to some sin
[except for complete tzaddikim such as a great person
like R' Yochonon, who are smitten with hardships of love to
increase their reward for Olam Haboh even more than
their zechus. Furthermore, some tzaddikim are
punished because of the generation's sin]. The goal is that
he should become a baal teshuvah because of this
"Shall the women eat their fruit, their cherished babes?"
(Eichah 2:20) and the immediate answer is, "Shall a
Cohen and Novi be slain in the Mikdash of
Hashem?" The novi directly indicates that the
punishment was because of this particular sin.
We primarily see the Hand of Hashem in that the country's
leaders were paid a "measure for measure." They wanted a
"Secular Revolution" and Hashem sent them an "Arab
Revolution." Chazal (Sotah 8b) write, "A man is
treated with the same measure he has acted." Since the goal
of punishment is doing teshuvah, Hashem in His
abundant mercy punishes a person with the same measure that
he sinned so he will realize his sin. This is what Yisro
told us when he said, "For in the very matter in which they
had conspired against them" (Shemos 18:11).
Although the nations of the world have powerful leaders who
can proclaim war and hurt their enemies, their only intent
is to punish their enemies, and it does not matter to them
what punishment they use. Hashem's entire intent is to teach
sinners to repent and therefore the sinner is punished in
the same way that he sinned so he can realize his sin. This
is what the brothers of Yosef said to each other, "Truly we
are guilty concerning our brothers, in that we saw the
anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not
hear; therefore is this distress come upon us"
(Bereishis 42:21). The Seforno explains, "Although
they judged him as being worthy to die according to the
din and did not consider what they were doing as a
sin, they should have had mercy on him. In the same way they
were cruel to him, this man was acting cruel against them."
Their cruel punishment taught them that their sin was also
of their being cruel.
This country educates its children to live without
emunah. We have long wondered how such a heretical
country continues to exist. Actually it has two strong
pillars on which it constantly relies. (1) Torah Study. (2)
Public Shabbos Observance.
(1) Torah Study: The Ha'amek Dvar (Vayikra
22:22) writes: "You shall therefore keep all My
chukim and all My mishpotim and do them, that
the land, into which I bring you to dwell will not vomit you
out." We already explained above (18-26) that observing the
chukim and mishpotim, which is Torah study,
protects a person from committing arayos. The
posuk adds that even if, choliloh, the whole
generation is lax in arayos and it is enough reason
for them to be exiled from the land, if they study
diligently the Torah, the zechus of the Torah will
help them so that the land will not spit them out, and
instead they will be punished in the land."
(2) Public Shabbos Observance: The Ibn Ezra (Shemos
20:8) writes: "We see that Yirmiyahu (in ch. 17) was
stringent in the mitzvah of Shabbos. He explicitly
prophesied that although it was decreed for Yerushalayim to
be destroyed, if Yisroel would once again observe Shabbos as
commanded they would not be exiled from their place and in
Yerushalayim the throne of the Davidic kingdom will
As long as the country's leaders did not touch these two
pillars, the country still had a right to exist. Is it not
presumable that the country is shaking because its leaders
began sawing down these pillars?
We should ask all those engaged in kiruv to utilize
this Divine Benevolence to help people do teshuvah.
They should not imagine the Right will deliver them or this
or that leader will rescue them. It is as the Rambam
(Hilchos Teshuvah 7:5) writes, "Yisroel will only be
redeemed through teshuvah." We pray to the One Who
sits in Heaven to have pity on us. For this reason what
Yechezkel writes (Yechezkel 20:33), "Surely with a
mighty hand and with a stretched out arm and with anger
poured out, will I be king over you" is not mentioned in the
pesukim of malkiyos during tefillas
Mussaf Rosh Hashanah, and when the nation will do
teshuvah we will not need this posuk.