Linking Sins and Negative Events

  1. Important event X occurs (be it a common tragedy or a one-time affair).
  2. Rabbi Y says X is punishment for doing/not doing Z (Rabbi Shach, Rabbi Steinman, Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi).
  3. Some Jews mock the rabbi; how does he know?
Here’s my point of view:
When prophets explained the ultimate cause of events it was prophecy. When Chazal explained events it was Ru’ach Hakodesh. This is not exactly theodicy. It’s not “how could it happen?” but “why did it happen?”
When this sort of explanation is used today, it’s not meant as Ru’ach Hakodesh of the event itself but as the observance of a practical, personal Mitzvah to think certain thoughts and utter certain words which will, in turn, have a positive effect upon the Mitzvah observance of that person and /or those whom he influences, as the case may be (my only complaint is I would invariably mention some other Mitzvah).
But the speakers sound confident?
I posit that’s confidence in the importance of Z and confidence in Teshuvah in general.

Per Y. Leibowitz (and my own epistemology), we don’t know anything at all about Hashem. Instead, we make choices with our free will. Since man was created with an obvious tendency to seek explanations of what occurs to him, we are commanded to self-assuredly imagine the cosmic theories of events which cause us to do additional Mitzvos. Individual and national imputations of Divine Providence were never meant to be anything else.

And, just like the rest of religion, this is not a scientific hypothesis!
Brachos 5a:
אמר רבא ואיתימא רב חסדא אם רואה אדם שיסורין באין עליו יפשפש במעשיו…
This is especially the case for leaders (be they the right leaders or not).
Rambam Ta’anios 1:3:

אבל אם לא יזעקו ולא יריעו אלא יאמרו דבר זה ממנהג העולם אירע לנו וצרה זו נקרה נקרית הרי זו דרך אכזריות וגורמת להם להדבק במעשיהם הרעים ותוסיף הצרה צרות אחרות הוא שכתוב בתורה והלכתם עמי בקרי והלכתי עמכם בחמת קרי כלומר כשאביא עליכם צרה כדי שתשובו אם תאמרו שהוא קרי אוסיף לכם חמת אותו קרי.

This doesn’t mean we get the specifics right, but the general lesson is certainly correct. Shabbos 55a, constantly quoted by Rabbi Arush:

אמר רב אמי אין מיתה בלא חטא ואין יסורין בלא עון…

And again, those who mock this (unless they are speaking to “philosophical listeners” alone) are encouraging Torah law-breaking, be they right or wrong. The fact there so many such individuals in our time should not be surprising, of course.
Maybe this is the intention of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, Chayei Moharan 454:
אמר: עוד יהיה זמן שמי שיהיה כשר פשוט יהיה חידוש גדול כמו הבעל שם טוב.
Update: Hours after writing this, I met someone vexed by a related topic and summarized this article for him (amazing Hashgacha Pratis, right…?).
So he asked me:
What about Emunah?
Emunah is, in fact, another Mitzvah. We aren’t Cursedians with beliefs/dogmas, upon which rest commandments (although, in truth, they have no commandments).

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