This week’s Parsha, Vayelech, speaks about how G-d will hide His face from the Jewish people. Although human beings have free will, G-d nonetheless knows what they will do with their lives. And in this case, He knows that they will rebel, and as a result, He will turn away from them and allow them to suffer. This seems cruel and unusual, particularly considering that G-d loves His people. It’s a common question; why does He let us suffer? If He truly loves us like children, why is there so much misery and suffering going on in the world? How can a merciful, loving G-d let people starve and die?
These questions are powerful because they’re emotional. They stir one’s faith, one’s neshama. We think of children and loved ones suffering, and that’s why it effects us. Logic, hard facts, and quotes from the Chumash don’t look very good next to heartbreaking images of poverty and starvation. But nonetheless, there is an answer, and the answer can be found in the question itself. Why would a G-d who loves us let us suffer?
Because He loves us.
That is why there’s suffering and misery in this world. It’s G-d’s way of teaching us. Yes, it’s an unpleasant lesson. Yes, the innocent are sometimes punished. Yes, it does seem unfair. But I think we can all agree, the most important lessons in life are also often the hardest. Devestating moments of agony, spiritual anguish, and heartbreak, often lead to the biggest revelations. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. And that fact applies to G-d, too, when He turns away from us to teach us a lesson. But why are we all punished? Why does G-d practice collective punishment?
Once again, a common question. In Judaism there’s something called mutual responsibility. We’re guarantors for each other. And although that might seem unfair, really it’s not. We’re all one big family, and G-d has told us that we are responsible for each other’s actions, at least to some degree. And this is for a very good reason. It fosters Avahos Yisroel, love among Jews. It’s through Ahavos Yisroel that Moshiach will come. It’s through Ahavos Yisroel that the Beis HaMikdash will be rebuilt. And it’s with Ahavos Yisroel that we can make our lives that bit more pleasant. We need to look out for each other, and mutual responsibility makes for great motivation to do that.
Note: I will probably be expanding upon this topic for my weekly Parsha article, which will be published today please G-d. If you have any questions or ideas for the article, please get in touch.