In general, a bad decree from G-d can be overturned through repentance and davening, while a good one can never be revoked. (This is a major theme in the books of Yirmiya and Yonah, among others.)

Yet, when HaShem decreed that the 10 martyrs should be killed, when the angels pleaded in their defense, HaShem said that if anyone says another word, He will destroy the entire world (paraphrased from the piyut in Yom Kippur Mussaf, page 590 in the Artscroll Machzor). Why is this case different? Why wouldn’t HaShem allow their case to be argued, as in other decrees of evil?

Granted we see such responses in cases like HaShem refusing Moshe’s pleas to enter Eretz Yisrael, but at least in those cases it’s a simple “no.” Why here does he not only refuse their pleas but also threatens to destroy the world if they continue?

  • My theory on this has to do with a gestalt understanding of the purpose of creation. Much like Hashem had to force us to accept the Torah (because the world would never fulfill its purpose without it) and Moshe couldn't be allowed to enter Israel (Hashem told him to stop praying) the martyrs for some cosmological reason "needed" to be killed. Therefore Hashem wasn't trying to stifle debate, but was pointing out the consequences of their advocacy (that it would fundamentally alter things and therefore destroy the briyah). Not sure if there's a source for this though. – Isaac Kotlicky Oct 1 '17 at 3:20
  • @IsaacKotlicky Sounds like you’re describing the concept of Hanhagas HaMazel. I’ll have to think about that. – DonielF Oct 1 '17 at 3:27
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    It seems difficult to ask questions on God on the basis of this dramatic passage, given that there is no evidence that it is historically accurate, and evidence to the contrary. Admittedly, the inclusion in liturgy indicates a degree of acceptance, and therefore one might wonder how it was understood by those who included it in their liturgy. – mevaqesh Oct 1 '17 at 4:15
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    This bothers you but God's response to Moses' plea, "Enough! Don't talk to me about this anymore.", you do understand? – Oliver Oct 1 '17 at 5:09
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    @IsaacKotlicky Not sure which places you are referring to. If you are referring to places of greater veracity than a questionable Midrash, consider editing them into the OP to strengthen the question. – mevaqesh Oct 1 '17 at 14:03

Now this answer is based from inference from a different story, but I nonetheless think it's quite correct.

When דוד became king, he wanted to build the בית רשאון, however השם didn't let him. His son שלמה would do it instead. Why was this? Because דוד was such a צדיק that השם wouldn't of destroyed the בית המקדש when he was in anger, and rather he would of destroyed all of עם ישראל. Destroying the בית המקדש was a כפרה, and if that כפרה was unattainable, עם ישראל would've been destroyed in its stead.

The same logic follows here. When the 10 צדיקים were decreed to be killed, it was a כפרה for the עולם! (The death of a צדיק atones for the sins of a generation.) without such כפרה the world would be destroyed! Therefore when all the מאלכים where praying, השם told them, if their תפילות were accepted and the 10 צדיקים kept alive, the world would be destroyed in their place!

This was not a threat, and השם was not so angry He didn't want anyone to even pray for the צדיקים. Rather, He told the מאלכים a statement of fact: The world requires כפרה, and if they don't get it in this way, that's the end!

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