Question & Answer With Dixie Yid - Caught In The Storm
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:
This is an important topic and something that I wrote about most recently when I summarized Rabbi Tepfer's shiur from Shavuos. And yes, something like that did recently happen to me. Because the company I used to work for was shedding almost 50% of its real estate holdings, I was laid off. It was a sudden and somewhat shocking revelation to me that sent me quickly looking for new work.
What I said to myself and to others was that I trusted that Hashem caused this to happen to me (hopefully) because he wanted to open me up for even better opportunities that I would never had been open to if I'd still had my comfy job. In the end, this turned out to be exactly what happened. At my old company, I was involved in a low-level way with an area of the law I didn't really think I'd ever want to go into. (For those who don't already know, I work full time and am in law school at night.) I liked the job, but more as a placeholder till I'd finish law school. However, in the job that I found 4 weeks later, I am now learning and practicing more varied and practical types of law that I have been really interested in. In fact, now I'm practicing in the Elder Law/Wills, Trusts & Estates area, where I'd been trying to get experience for over a year. The point is that now I have a job which is a much greater learning opportunity in much more diversified areas of law. We don't always see that great resolution so quickly, but the attitude that Hashem intends the "bad" thing that's happening to me for the good is the main point.
The Midrash says "וצריך אדם להיות שמח בייסורין יותר מן הטובה" "One must be happier about his suffering than about the good [that happens to him]." (Midrash Tanchuma, Parshas Yisro, 16) But why must one be more happy about the bad than the good. Perhaps it is because being happy about the "bad" is more of a manifestation and expression of Emunah than being happy about the good. I don't "have to have Emunah" that what Hashem is doing to me is good if I already see the goodness of it. But even more so, being happy about the good that happens to someone can give the person the illusion that he even knows what is good for himself!!! In truth, we understand just as little about what's truly good for us than we understand what is "bad" for us. Perhaps rejoicing in the bad is better because it involves a realization that we don't necessarily know what's actually good or bad for me. This yesod is discussed at the end of Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, Vol. 2.
Also, in Taanis 8a, it says "ריב"ל כל השמח ביסורין שבאין עליו מביא ישועה לעולם." "Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi says 'Anyone who is happy about the suffering that comes upon him brings redemption to the world.'" Why is redemption the result of being happy with suffering? Redemption is when bad things that have happened are "redeemed" by being revealed to be truly good in actuality. So when one recognizes the goodness of suffering, he is performing an act of redemption, i.e. redeeming the "bad" thing that happened by bringing the goodness within that "bad" thing out of the hidden state and into a revealed state, which is a great kiddush Hashem. Thus, mida k'neged mida, since he has redeemed the bad in his own life Hashems sends him and the rest of the world redemption as the fitting result/reward.
Instead of being upset about the storms that a person faces, being thankful for them out of a recognition that the problem is really a hidden tova (good thing) is a true expression of Emunah. May we all be zocheh to attaining Emunah Sheleima u'berura (clear and perfect faith) to the extent that we will rejoice in the bad as much or more than we rejoice in the good.