And that was a most terrible event as my brother drowned in the Indian Ocean, he had taken such care of me and now I was left alone and bewildered in a strange land.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (as described in his family's biography prefacing Igros Moshe vol. 8):

And that trip was a terrible one; firstly the young lady I was supposed to meet for marriage didn't work out; and my handwritten manuscripts were stolen; and I was knocked down in the wagon and hit my head terribly and could easily have died ...

-- What is the spiritual value in this introspection?

Clarified: it seems these rabbis felt better by lumping their bad experiences together -- "it was one bad trip." "It was a horrible year." How does that explain their approach to suffering?

  • Yeah, about that "open-ended question" thing...sorry, vote to close.
    – Seth J
    Aug 8, 2012 at 16:37
  • 1
    People like to kvetch.
    – Daniel
    Aug 8, 2012 at 16:40
  • 4
    are the great rabbis not allowed to write about sad events and express personal grief?
    – rosends
    Aug 8, 2012 at 16:42
  • They're following Iyov's example
    – b a
    Aug 8, 2012 at 16:45
  • 4
    The phrases "gone all woe-is-me" and "self-sorry" feel a little bit presumptive, judgemental, and globalizing to me and makes me wonder if there is a sub-text or agenda to the original question. Of course, English isn't my strongest suite, so perhaps I'm sensing something that isn't there. If the question is about the spiritual value of intropsection on events of personal tragedy, why, then, the need to use such disparaging phrases in describing the autobiographical accounts of these two rabbis?
    – Shemmy
    Aug 8, 2012 at 23:01

2 Answers 2


We are fortunate that these great people recorded such personal moments, because it shows us that they were human, and they struggled with situations no less difficult than any of us. Lest anyone say "this and this posek was not grounded in reality; he never experienced the real world," these words demonstrate an involvement in the same emotional struggle of life that we all know and identify with, and they effectively refute such statements. They recorded their personal moments because they were human, just like us.

  • +1 Also this add to their value as a posek, knowing they could understand and identify with the situations they applied their psakim to.
    – Double AA
    Aug 9, 2012 at 3:39

The famous comment of the Ramban at the end of Parshas Bo

“And from the great and well-known miracles a man comes to admit to hidden miracles which are the foundation of the whole Torah. A person has no portion in the Torah of Moses unless he believes that all our matters and circumstances are miracles and they do not follow nature or the general custom of the world …rather, if one does mitzvot he will succeed due to the reward he merits … (Shmos 13:16)”

means that our lives are under the direct supervision of G-d.

When I live through an experience, especially an unpleasant one, I should look into what that G-d is trying to teach me through it. That is the spiritual value of this introspection.

  • But then why did the Rambam and R' Moshe Feinstein need to write it down for everyone to see? That was the question, I think
    – b a
    Aug 8, 2012 at 21:04
  • @ba They wanted to demonstrate that they introspected about what happened to them. Aug 8, 2012 at 21:12
  • Not everyone who gets troubles introspects. If they wanted to demonstrate that they introspected, they should have written afterwards "And because of all that happened to me, I introspected" or something along those lines. (I didn't check the places to see if they did write that, but I don't htink they did)
    – b a
    Aug 8, 2012 at 21:44

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