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I have always worried that the events of the holocaust and previous pogroms etc could recur, and could happen to any of us. Intellectually, I know that Hashem has a reason and we have to accept it, but after the recent horrors that Hamas have perpetrated, these fears have suddenly been brought much closer to home.

I look at my family and think about the victims. Any illusions of security have been shattered. We can't know that any of us is safe anywhere. We can daven and do teshuva and give tzedakah and do other mitzvos, but it isn't long since Yom Kippur and many of the recent victims will have done a lot of that. Ultimately, we sometimes have to accept that Hashem's plan includes things that seem horrific to us even if we can't understand why, but I find that so difficult to do in practice.

Have we messed things up so badly that Hashem is going to take away the incredible gift of Israel again?

Just to clarify, this is not so much a problem of emunah in Hashem as practically being able to accept Hashem's plan. I don't think we should even accept the last few days. We're right to be angry and feel that it is wrong, so I'm not sure how to balance that either?

This is not a new set of worries in Jewish history. I'm sure that plenty of Rabbonim have dealt with it, but I've not come across anything that deals with this specifically. Has anyone else?

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    Read Shaar HaBitachon. It will bring you a lot of joy, or double your money back :)
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Oct 11, 2023 at 10:28

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Rabbi Avi Wiesenfeld the Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivas Beis Dovid (I mentioned him in this answer) provides a very powerful idea.

On Yom Kippur in Mussaf, we read about the Asarah Harugei Malchus (the Ten Martyrs), one of which was Rabbi Akiva who was killed when he had his skin ripped off with metal combs by the Romans. And when they reached the point where the tefillin is placed on the head, the angels screamed out, "Stop - זו תורה, וזו שכרה? (such Torah, such reward?)" (See Berachos 61b, Menachos 29b, Machzor Yom Kippur) Hashem responded by telling the malachim to cease with their protests, explaining that if He were to stop, He would have to turn the world back to nothing, to uncreate it!

The Vilna Gaon explains what this response means through a mashal - a parable. Imagine a very wealthy man hires the best tailor to make him a bespoke suit. He buys the most luxurious roll of silk, and the tailor starts taking his measurements. The tailor tells him to return in two weeks, and he works day and night to make something truly special. The man returns and sees the most magnificent suit. When he tries it on, it fits like a glove. Upon arriving home, he shows his wife with a proud smile. Yet, whilst his wife commends him on a truly beautiful suit, she irately comments, "You paid all that money, and the tailor has only used a fraction of the material!! He's going to sell on the rest of it and make a fortune!!" Seeing the truth to his wife's words, he storms back to the tailor, calling him a cheat and liar. When the tirade is over, the tailor calmly takes back the suit and starts ripping the seams. As the man watches on in despair, he begins to see the additional folds that were not visible in the finished suit. It was only when the tailor completely ruined the suit, did the man see that all the material that was supplied had been used in the making of the suit.

Explains the Vilna Gaon, Hashem was telling the malachim and ultimately us, if we want to understand why G-d acts why He does - you simply won't understand. It would mean ripping the world apart just to show you why. Sadly, there are no answers, it is part of a much bigger plan.

The Chofetz Chaim brings down that when the brothers came to Egypt, they could not understand how their situation had descended to such a degree, how dire the scenario had become. However, the Viceroy then responds, "אני יוסף" and it all became clear. They could see how and why everything played out as it did. In much the same way, the Chofetz Chaim writes, there will be a point in time when we will all hear, "I am Hashem" and it will all become clear. All those situations in our lives, which we have struggled with, will now make sense.

Similarly, the Midrash in Shemos Rabbah notes how Moshe Rabbeinu struggled with this concept. He cries out, "הראני נא את כבודך" - "Please show me Your Honour" - why is it that good people have to suffer or have bad lives? It is tragic it doesn't make sense?!

Hashem responds by explaining (Shemos 33:20):

לֹ֥א תוּכַ֖ל לִרְאֹ֣ת אֶת־פָּנָ֑י כִּ֛י לֹֽא־יִרְאַ֥נִי הָאָדָ֖ם וָחָֽי

You cannot see My face, for a human being may not see Me and live.

In other words, it is impossible to truly understand. Not even someone as holy as Moshe can comprehend why G-d acts as He does.

And G-d says further (Shemos 33:23):

וַהֲסִרֹתִי֙ אֶת־כַּפִּ֔י וְרָאִ֖יתָ אֶת־אֲחֹרָ֑י וּפָנַ֖י לֹ֥א יֵרָאֽוּ

Then I will take My hand away and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.”

The Chofetz Chaim says that sometimes G-d brings such unspeakable suffering, and we simply cannot understand why. However, there will be a time when it will all make sense, and our job is to have emunah in the Ribono Shel Olam. Our job is to recognise where everything comes from.


EDIT

HaRav Elimelech Biderman shita in his Torah Wellsprings (Bereishis 5784) provides a very beautiful Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh on the verse in Shemos 22:6

שאין לך שעה ורגע שאין ה' עושה פעולה עם האדם בין בבחינת גופו בין בבחינת צרכיו

There isn't an hour or a minute that Hashem isn't doing something for man: either for his body or for his needs." Hashem is with us, always, and therefore, we need not be afraid.

He then adds a beautiful mashal:

A story is told of a person who was walking through a forest, frightened from the wild animals, and he sees two sets of footprints beneath him. One is his own, but whose footprings are the second pair?

A bas kol says, "The second set of footprints is from Hashem. Hashem is walking with you through the forest."

He was relieved, Hashem was with him. There was nothing to fear.

But then, he met up with a lion, and now he doesn't see Hashem's footprints. He shouted, "Hashem! Why did you leave me when I need You most?"

The Bas Kol replied, "You only see one pair of footprints because Hashem is carrying you on your shoulders!" Because Hashem is closest, when we are going through challenges.

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  • Thanks for the answer. I'm not really asking why it happened though, as much as practically how to accept the possibility that Hashem could have something similar in store for my family and myself Oct 11, 2023 at 10:27
  • This is not saying why it happened it is answering that we have no ability to know why G-d acts as He does. The only thing we can do is work on our Emunah or to respond by adopting some of the practices discussed here - judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/137334/…
    – Dov
    Oct 11, 2023 at 10:30

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