Commenting on THIS POST from this morning, with the story of the Yid dying while trying to light his cigarrette on Shabbos, "anonymous" commented:
I don't think he was 'killed' for smoking on Shabbos. I also don't think I can, or anyone else, can understand God and his 'actions.'
Anon, you are correct that one cannot ever claim to "know" why a G-d causes a particular thing to happen. If I would know the mind of G-d, I would be G-d.
However, it would be a mistake to not to take suffering as a signal to do teshuva.
As the Rambam says in Hilchos Ta'anios 1:2-3:
שבזמן שתבוא צרה ויזעקו לה ויריעו, יידעו הכול שבגלל מעשיהם הרעים הרע להן--ככתוב "עוונותיכם, הטו אלה" (ירמיהו ה,כה) לכם, וזה הוא שיגרום להם להסיר הצרה מעליהם.
ג אבל אם לא יזעקו, ולא יריעו, אלא יאמרו דבר זה ממנהג העולם אירע לנו, וצרה זו נקרוא נקרית--הרי זו דרך אכזרייות, וגורמת להם להידבק במעשיהם הרעים, ותוסיף הצרה וצרות אחרות:
"At a time when suffering comes upon them and they cry out and groan, everyone knows that because of their evil deeds, this evil has come upon them. As it says in Yirmiyahu 5:25, 'their sins caused these.' And this [response of teshuva] is what causes that fuffering to be removed from upon them.
But if they do not cry out and wail, but rather, they say, this thing happened to us because it is the way of the world, and this suffering is a coincedence - this [approach] is the way of cruelty. And it causes people to adhere to their evil deeds. And it causes additional suffering and other sufferings."
L'ma'aseh, don't be cruel to a heart that's true!
A subsequent comment by anon:
Nothing happened (suffering wise) to the survivor. 2. The guy who died can't do teshuvah anymore.
I agree that we should constantly aim to become closer to God. And that if something good or bad happens to us we should recognize God's message. I also believe that the Rambam you quoted is not applicable to the story you blogged; it is probably more appropriate for plagues and famines.
That said, the survivor should definitely not smoke on Shabbos as he should realize that 'life' is only temporary and easily extinguished but not because, although possible, God killed his buddy while trying to smoke on Shabbos.
As an aside I would venture to pin his demise on the disrespect to Reb Aharon Karliner -- as lighting a match on Shabbos is more severe then smoking.
And my response:
Something did happen to to the surviver! He saw his friend die on Shabbos while trying to smoke leaning over the kever of R' Aharon of Karlin!
I see you are now willing to pin it on something! :-) But I would tend to agree with you. It was probably related in some way to the combination of smoking on Shabbos with the disrespect to the Tzadik.
But I would disagree with you about the Rambam. There are plenty of places in Shas where the idea of suffering on an individual level is taken as a sign to do teshuva. The main one that comes to mind is Brachos 5a, where "אמר רבא ואיתימא רב חסדא אם רואה אדם שיסורין באין עליו יפשפש במעשיו שנא' (איכה ג) נחפשה דרכינו ונחקורה ונשובה עד ה' פשפש ולא מצא יתלה בבטול תורה." "...If one sees suffering coming upon him (singular), he should examine his deeds... If he searches and he finds no sins, he should attribute it [to the sin of] bitul Torah."
You see that the principal is the same with individuals as it is with the klal.
(Picture courtesy of citirooms.blogs.nytimes)
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