Monday, June 23, 2008

Being Happy When Bad Things Happen to You - Q&A at ASJ

A Simple Jew has posted an answer that I wrote to the question that I'm quoting below. I discussed a personal experience that's relevant to the question and a couple of insights that I was thinking about into some relevant gemaras. Here's his question:

A Simple Jew asks:

It has been taught that sincerely thanking Hashem for the obstacles and the daily problems we encounter helps to sweeten the harsh judgements against us.
Has there ever been an occasion in your life where you felt as if you were caught in the middle of a storm and instead of despairing you stopped and thanked Hashem for that very storm?

Dixie Yid Answers...

-Dixie Yid

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Anonymous said...

Beautiful and inspiring. It's tragic that some people out there refuse to accept and live with hashgacha pratis. They're destroying their own lives and peace of mind.

Anonymous said...

This has been an incredible morning.

I can't remember where I heard it (I think it was quoted in the name of the Besht but it could also be a gemara) but it was said that a person will come across in his daily learning something that is relevant to an issue going on in his life currently.

I am currently engaged and the relationship has been going through a rocky patch and as of last night, may now well be over. Turning today with increased vigour to my learning, I have been constantly coming across such ideas as the importance of consistancy in one's emunah and learning even in times of trouble. And as I was beginning to think it a bit weird - I read this article!

Great chizuk, thank you very much.

- A long-time reader and appreciator of your blog (and ASJ's).

Alice said...

There are moments when it would take a spiritual giant to do this. (Think about people in concentration camps, people who have lost a child, been victims of horrible attacks, etc.)

Having said that, on a day to day basis it is really the key in the many ways. Pessimism makes us blind to numerous opportunities that are right in front of our noses. At least that's what I think.

DixieYid said...

Anon 6:29:

Agreed. Nebach. ;-)

Anon 6:37:

Thank you very much for your very kind words of chizuk for me! It's true though, especially due to hashgacha pratis, as Anon 6:29 mentioned, nothing is a coincedence and nothing is *for nothing*. We don't always know why (actually, we never *really* know) things happen, but if we can focus on the fact that they are happening for a reason and that it is for our ultimate good, we can have greater peace with what's happening if we accept it with that simple Emunah.

I know what you mean about seeing a bunch of things that seem to point in one direction all at once that relates to something I'm going through. B"H, this Q&A was able to be a kli for that process this time!


It's not just you that thinks that. I also think that's true. It's so much better for the emotional health, besides the fact that it's the correct outlook. And you're also right that it is very hard in extreme situations like you mentioned. People who do this in those situations are the true tzadikim who've really internalized this reality before those hard times come.

-Dixie Yid

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:37 again (in response to DY's reply to Alice):

I think however it's important when chas v'shalom suffering misfortune not to be naive and just plug your fingers in your ears and go 'gum zu l'tova'. It's important to realise that although evil may ultimately be revealed to be for the good, it is designed to appear evil to us for a reason and to some extent we must recognise it as being genuinely bad. We should be affected by misfortune and not just wash over it with platitudes.

DixieYid said...

Anon 8:43,

You are very true in the "other hand" that you point out on two levels. One is that we are supposed to be a human being with healthy human emotions. G-d created us that way for a reason as well and for most of us, a lack of emotion when tragedy hits may be more a sign of emotional aloofness or indifference than a sign of strong Emunah. That being said, there are some who truly are on that level and are and were able to rejoice even in the worst situations.

The other sense in which you're right is that a person could be lulled into a false sense of compacency about his current status in ruchnius. Instead of using the problem as a wake-up call to improve, he could say "Oh, this is really all good anway. I don't have to examine myself." As the Rambam says, anyone who doesn't take the teshuva hint when bad things happen to him is being cruel to himself.

-Dixie Yid

Anon 6:37 & 8:43 said...

(This may be a bit off-topic, apologies if so). I have however been wondering whether, if taking issurim as a wake-up call for introspection & doing teshuva, it's not really an invite for H' to (chas v'shalom) send you more. As in: wow this person responds really well to issurim and uses it as a big impetus to grow, he should have more - it's clearly good for him.

I guess the answer is to constantly try and reach such intensity of teshuva as one does when responding to misfortunes and then one doesn't need them.

DixieYid said...

Anon 6:37/8:43,

I hear what you're saying, but the Rambam says just the opposite. He basically implies that if you show that you respond to the yisurim, then He won't need to send you any more. Whereas if you don't respond, this shows Him that you need even worse yisurim. You also said that at the end, but at least that's the main way that the Rambam presents it.