Bears & The Ba'asher Hu Shom Principle
Last year, I asked a question about a midrash in Parshas Ki Sissa that I found troubling concerning why Hashem judged Michah and not Yishmael according to deeds he was destined to do in the future.
I noticed recently that this this phenomenon is also continued in Nach with Elisha's curse of boys who were taunting him:
"And he went up from there to Bet El. He was going up on the road and some little boys came out of the city and made fun of him, and said to him, "Go away, baldy; go away, baldy!" He turned around and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of Hashem. Then two bears came out of the forest, and tore apart forty-two boys from among them." (II Melachim 2:23-24)
Me'am Lo'ez comments,
"When Elisha looked at the children who came out to tease him, he saw by the spirit of prophecy that they were devoid of any good deeds and weak of faith. The word נער'ם "boys" can also be interpreted as מנוער'ם "shaken out" and therefore empty. They were empty of the only thing of worth, good deeds. The word קטנ'ם "little," alludes to how small their faith was.
Some say that Elisha saw that all of them had been conceived on Yom Kippur. Their parents had violated the holiness of that day, when it is forbidden for man and wife to have intimate relations. As their beginning had been in sin, so, Elisha saw, their end would be. He cursed them not in anger in vengeance, but because he saw that no good would ever come of them. It was their evil nature that had brought them to behave so nastily, and it would continue to produce wickedness as long as they lived....Though Hashem fulfilled Elisha's decree, He did not entirely approve, and Elisha was eventually to suffer for it."
I noted in my previous posting that Rashi's commentary to the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah 16b states that a person is judged according to his present deeds (ba'asher hu shom) and not according to any deeds that he may be destined to do in the future. If this is indeed the case, why did Hashem send two bears two kill them as punishment? The manner in which they were conceived was beyond their control. Did their mere taunting of Elisha warrant a death sentence? Elisha, unlike Moshe Rabbeinu (see Rashi on Shemos 2:12), did not even determine whether any of the descendants of these boys would be tzaddikim, rather, he based his decision on his knowledge that these boys would never do teshuva in their lives.
Perhaps I have confused myself and tied my brains up in knots with all of this, however it seems to me like there is no standard application of the "ba'asher hu shom" principle. Space Cadet once said, "We must be willing to accept the fact that the answers may be on a different plane than the questions."
Is that the case here as well?