Friday, September 18, 2009

G-d's reason for abuse and rape?

One of the issues that is typically brought up is, "Why did G-d want me to be raped and abused?" The following are some thought regarding two contradictory yet legitimate views within mainstream Orthodox Judaism. This passage wll be included in my book and is copyrighted. No publishing is allowed without my written permission.

Perhaps the most difficult issue for a religious Jew to face is why did it happen? Since we know that nothing happens without G-d’s approval - that must mean that He wanted the abuse to happen .There are in fact in two alternative views which need to be considered. Strangely enough each approach is legitimate within Torah sources but only one is comforting and the other is viewed as distressing. Which is which is dependent on the individual and his/her psychological and spiritual attitude.

The first approach, which is the dominant one today, is the Gd centered view that G-d is responsible for all events and He wanted it to happen. Even if a leaf falls off a tree is was caused by Divine Providence. There are a number of reasons why G-d wanted to suffering to happen. 1) because the need for atonement – either in this lifetime or for a previous existence. The Ramban states that without the concept of reincarnation (gilgul) it is impossible to understand the suffering of the righteous and innocent. Thus most suffering is the result of sin. 2) the need for testing and character refinement through adversity. Thus the suffering is not the result of sin but is the means of getting greater personal growth and reward in the world to come. 3) suffering of love is simply n order to give greater reward in the World to Come. This view is found comforting because everything has meaning and the main test is to accept that the suffering is G-d’s will. The suffering is pre-ordained and thus there is no protection against it. The only way to prevent the suffering is to take the initiative to raise ones spiritual level so that there is no need for the suffering. If the desired consequences can be achieved by one's spiritual intitiative then ther is no need for the suffering. The perpetrator still needs to be punished because if he wasn't wicked he would not have be selected to be the agent of the suffering. The concern that G-d is doing something cruel is answered simply by the statement that G-d is obviously is kind but we don’t understand it and must accept whatever He does as kind. G-d is like a doctor who causes pain by amputating a limb or give chemo- therapy to save the person.

The second approach is the man centered view that while G-d in fact runs the world – but He gives man free-will to do what he wants. Thus a man can hurt or kill another – even though G-d doesn’t want it to happen – because of the granting of free-will. Consequently one can in fact prevent the harm from happening by human efforts. The Rambam explains that Divine Providence is reserved for those truly close to G-d and even a distraction from thinking about G-d makes you vulnerable to harm. The Netziv cites a Zohar as the source of this understanding. Rav Dessler cites Seforno that most Jews are not operating under Divine Providence. This is generally the approach found in the Rishonim and was the dominant approach until Chassidim introduced the first view about 150 years ago. This man centered view is comforting because G-d is not being cruel in any sense of the word. Rather it is man that causes suffering or the impersonal forces of chance or mazel. This approach puts the responsibility on man to act and to stop the suffering. It also means that one needs to focus on how he responds on a human level because not all efforts will be effective in stopping the harm. The first approach is much more fatalistic because ultimately one needs only accept what has happened and that it needed to happen.


  1. While the second approach may be comforting for some, in the end it still places the onus upon ourselves for our failure to be worthy of a higher level of hashgacha pratis. The point of the second approach is not the God is incapable or unaware of what is happening, but that He does not openly intervene in events for those who are not worthy.

    In the final analysis, the second approach simply teaches that bad things happen to you because you are unworthy of God's attention. So, not only was it ultimately your fault, but there wasn't even any point in your suffering.

    I fail to see how this could be comforting to anyone. In fact, I believe your presentation of the two approaches - especially the second - is excessively simplistic.

    Ultimately, the distinction between the two approaches is not that great, once one recognizes that the different schools (philosophical vs. kabbalistic) are often discussing very similar - if not identical - ideas with different terminology.

    See, for example, the Evnei Nezer's famous teshuva on yishuv eretz Yisrael (Yoreh Deah 454, esp. para. 46), in his discussion of the issue of the famous gemara about the vows.

  2. There is a lot of confusion these days on this issue(at least anecdotally), perhaps due to the homogenization of Jewish philosophy for the masses.

    joel rich

  3. LazerA said...

    I fail to see how this could be comforting to anyone. In fact, I believe your presentation of the two approaches - especially the second - is excessively simplistic.

    Ultimately, the distinction between the two approaches is not that great, once one recognizes that the different schools (philosophical vs. kabbalistic) are often discussing very similar - if not identical - ideas with different terminology.
    Well aside from reinforcing my point that people have trouble appreciating the alternative view - you have also adopted the modern view that the two views are really not that different.

    But they are. You can't have it both ways i.e., the second is not comforting but it really is not that different than the first view which is comforting.

    Furthermore I agree with you that these views are oversimplistic from the point of modern authorities who try to blur them. But if you look back at the Rishonim - this is basically how they viewed the issue.

    In other words I am asserting this was the original intent of the Rishonim. For someone who has grown up on more contemporary understanding I can understand your comment.

    Perhaps if you look at the late Lubavitcher Rebbe's writings on the distinction between the Chassidic concept of HP applying to everything and the alternative that it applies to something some of the time - you might start to understand where I am coming from.

  4. I do not find the first approach comforting. Actually, I find it really outrageous.

    I think it is very problematic to give explanaitions like "the first approach" in the context of sexual abuse, because sexual abuse is often based on manipulation of the conscience of the victim (by a person who is more powerfull), and the first approach says about the same thing: it happened to you because it "had to happen to you" or because "g-d wanted it to happen to you".

    I would find it much more important to stress:
    "It happened to you because the perpetrator is a criminal and did not respect G-d's will. Had he respected G-d's will, it could not have happened to you.".

    Please: if you see victims of sexual abuse, don't use this "frist approach" on them!!!!!

  5. Ultimately, the distinction between the two approaches is not that great, once one recognizes that the different schools (philosophical vs. kabbalistic) are often discussing very similar - if not identical - ideas with different terminology.

    There is definitely a machloket there. The AR"I recognizes it, and attempts to some level to meteretz the different positions. Without delving into the full explanation here are his salient points:

    1)Everyone is proportioned a certain amount of suffering in their life.

    2) Our sins may add to the suffering the amount of suffering that we are apportioned in life.

    3) Our own decisions may determine how that suffering comes. For instance if a woman was apportioned a certain amount of suffering, but in his mercy HaShem also decreed that she be able to bear 12 children, and the suffering of both the actual labor and the raising of the children would thus suffice to cover it. However said woman decides to have only 2 children. She will still recieve the rest of that suffering, just without the joy the children would have brought her to sweeten it.

    4)The amount of suffering one is apportioned may be reduced by doing specific Tikkunim. my own note. Considering the tikkunim that the AR"I prescribes involve a good amount of suffering themselves, I personally think that you are simply choosing the when, where and how.

    5) The level of H"P that one enjoys in life is directly correlative with one's level of Torah observance, and most specifically the quality of one's mitzvot.

    6) Even a perfect tzadik may suffer and have H"P withheld on account of sins of past lives, or as a Kappara for his generation.

  6. PS: and please, refrain from publishing these kinds of reflexions in a book, because it might be taken seriously just because it is in a book, and this might do wide spread damage.

    I think the only possible explanation on a "philosophical level" is the famous saying from pirkey avot:אין בידינו לא מיסורי צדיקים ולא שלות רשעים
    i.e. We don't know.

    But on a personal level, I would insist on the fact that the perpetrator did a very, very grave aveira, and that this caused damage to the victim, and now the victim has to learn to live with the damage she/he incurred without any responsiblity of her/his own.

    And I would insist on the fact that G-d loves this victim and that she/he is pure and untainted to him.

  7. PPS: There is also another reason why "approach one" is dangerous:

    Victims of abuse who do not learn that they should NOT have been victims of abuse sometimes - unconsciously - draw the conclusion that what happened to them was fine, that's how the world runs, so they can do it to someone else.

    It is a very, very, slippery slope.

  8. Shoshi,

    The problem is that there is a Chassidic/Kabbalistic thought that HaShem absolutely runs the world. That nothing happens in the world unless HaShem directly wills it.

    Added to that Ben Ish Hai and others expounded that everything that happens to you, is done by HaShem specifically for you. That the reason that you had any involvement in such a thing, is that you had some part in it.

    As a prime example of this, I personally know that once a person came to R' Kaduri Z"L seeking a tikkun because he had done something with a body. After the Rav gave him a tikkun the Rav was so trouble that he should have a portion in such a sin that he fasted Shavua l'shavua for three weeks and engaged in intense introspection to find within himself where the problem lay.

    So while you personally may not ascribe to such a view it is very important that such views be included within a book on Torah views of a subject, as this is a very prominent Torah view today.

  9. Could you give the mekor for this Netziv? Thanks.

  10. Daas Torah said:
    You can't have it both ways i.e., the second is not comforting but it really is not that different than the first view which is comforting.

    If we take your description of the second position at face value, then it is not comforting in the least. Your presentation implies that my suffering is not due to my sins, serves no productive purpose, and, in fact, has no reason whatsoever. It just happened. The reason that God allowed it to happen is because He does not consider me worthy of His attention.

    It was precisely this presentation that I consider overly simplistic. While we find statements in the rishonim that appear to deny Divine Providence to those who are unworthy (Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim 3:18 and Chinuch #546), we also find statements, often from the same authorities, that all suffering comes from God (Rambam in his letter on astrology and the Chinuch #241 - specifically regarding harm inflicted by another human being). Moreover, the Rambam (ibid. and Hil. Taanios 1) and Seforno (Vayikra 13:47), among others, present this removal of Divine Providence as a form of punishment.

    Any presentation of the position of these rishonim that (A) fails to deal with these ambiguities and (B) implies that these Rishonim maintain that such events happen against God's will, is overly simplistic.

    The "contemporary" understanding of "modern authorities" - which you apparently view as a revisionist "blurring" - is, like all such efforts by acharonim, an attempt to gain an understanding of the real intent of the rishonim rather than a superficial reading.

    Personally, I am uncertain if there really are two separate approaches in the first place. For example, the Ramban is frequently cited as epitomizing the first approach, based on his famous commentary on Shemos 13:16 where he says that everything is miracles. In that passage he is clearly endorsing the idea of absolute and total Divine providence. Yet, in his commentary on Breishis 18:19 he states that Hashem is only mashgiach on the pious. Clearly, the topic is one that needs to be clarified and there is room to argue that the two approaches have more in common than might appear at first glance.

    In any event, I believe it is clear, that, properly understood, both approaches acknowledge that (A) nothing happens against God's will, (B) there is no suffering without sin, (C) that different people merit varying levels of hashgacha, and (D) that we still bear a responsibility of hishtadlus. ("Acceptance" applies only after the fact.)

    It seems to me that the chiddush of the Chassidic movement (in this regard) was that it argued that one could merit a higher level of hashgacha more easily than had been thought previously. Earlier sources, such as the Rambam, seemed to set a very high bar - intellectual perfection, philosophy, etc. The mekubalim also set a very high standard of spiritual consciousness to merit this level. The chassidim, however, seem to make this level of spirituality accessible to the ordinary Jew.

    An argument can be made that this "lowered bar" reflects a spiritual reality. In R' Chaim Vital's ספר החזיונות (popularly known as as ספר שבחי ר' חיים וויטאל) he writes that he once asked asked his rebbi (the Arizal) why he always spoke of the greatness of R' Chaim's soul, when even the least of the righteous of earlier generations was far greater than he. His rebbi answered that greatness does not depend simply on one's objective deeds, but on the generation and time. "For a small deed in this generation is equivalent to many great mitzvos in other generations." For, as he goes on to explain, the impure forces are much stronger in the later generations.

    As such, it may well follow, that in our, much later, generation, the level of deveikus one must achieve in order to merit hashgacha pratis may well be dramatically lower than what was demanded of the rishonim. This alone may account for the change in emphasis in this area.

  11. Mekubal; there is no contradiction between my point of view and yours.
    1)hashem runs the world but we do not know how. Hence we do not know why he does what, and it would be preposterous to pretend to know
    2) Hashem gave us clear moral guidelines and a sexual abuser clearly runs against those guidelines. Manyforms of abuse run so badly against the torah that the torah forsees capital punishment.

    This is clearly a case where it is better to say "we do not know" rather than propagating a false hypothesis which might be very offending or even harmful to the victim.

    Just say: You suffered damage you should not have suffered according to G-d's law.

    the only explanation you can give is the paradox of free will (where the perpetrator chose to act against g.d's will) and that the perpetrator should be punished in this world (according to torah and civil law) and will surely be punished in the next.

  12. Next Guy said...

    Could you give the mekor for this Netziv? Thanks.
    This is taken from my Daaas Torah page 438 also look at 562-847
    which brings sources of when free-will, chance or mazel overcome providence

    Netziv (Bereishis 37:13 Harchev Davar): Yaakov could have sent a servant to determine the welfare of his sons but he was worried that he would be endangering the life of the servant. In contrast, he was sure that the righteousness of Yosef would protect him from harm. Similarly the Zohar says that Reuven had Yosef thrown into a pit full of snakes and scorpions because he was sure that his righteousness would protect him from harm. This that he was afraid that the brothers would harm Yosef is different since a person’s free will can overcome Providence. A clear proof to this is the fact Darius had no fear that Daniel would be harmed by the lions but was afraid that the noblemen would harm him. However, G﷓d forbid to say that Heaven can not protect against the free will of man, but it does require a much greater level of personal merit. In other words he must be perfectly righteous (tzadik gamor) not only in relationship to G﷓d but also with people. That is in fact the reason that Yaakov was protected from the free will of Lavan. So while he clearly knew that all his sons were righteous, he was afraid that perhaps they weren’t properly kind and merciful to others since Yosef gave bad reports about them and he knew they hated Yosef from jealousy. All this shows a lack in the attribute of kindness to others. Therefore he was afraid of people being able to hurt his other sons. In contrast, he knew that Yosef was astoundingly concerned about the welfare of others and that he loved his brothers even though they hated him. Thus he was convinced that no harm would come to Yosef.

    Meshech Chochma (Devarim 17:15): … The Ralbag notes that the heart of the king is in G﷓d’s hand (Mishlei 21:1). Thus the king has no free will but what he does is determined by G﷓d. Shmuel was thus afraid of Shaul at this point [Shmuel 1 1:11] because Shaul was no longer king and thus had free will to harm him.

    Ohr HaChaim (Bereishis 12:11): Avraham told his wife to say that she was his sister and not his wife. Sarah was upset that he had put her in danger. Now either she would be captured by the Egyptians after they killed Avraham or she would have to go voluntarily to avoid having him killed. Even though the righteous have bitachon in G﷓d, nevertheless there is a major principle not to rely on miracles (Pesachim 64b). This is especially true when the danger comes from the free choice of other people to cause harm. This is clearly seen in the fear Shmuel had of being killed by Shaul (Shmuel 1 16:2)…
    Maharal (Rosh HaShanna 16b page 110): The explanation that the complete tzadik is written for life is that everything concerning him is for life even if the mazel is for death…he will be guarded against the chance causes of death by G﷓d…Concerning the wicked it is the opposite even his mazel is for life G﷓d writes him for death. That means G﷓d leaves him exposed to chance causes of death. Death is not inevitable because the mazel might be so strong that it will guard him but it is a strong possibility. That is why Chazal tell us that one should not travel with a rasha because he is accompanied by the angelic agents of destruction…however there are times that he doesn’t actually die…This is expressed by Dovid (Shmuel I 26) that death is divided into 3 causes 1) G﷓d directly causes 2) natural 3) chance…

  13. Michtav M’Eliyahu (2:75): Hashgocha protis (individualized Providence) is only relevant for a person on the high spiritual level of serving G﷓d without ulterior motivations. In other words a person who—using his free will and deeds—reveals G﷓d’s glory in this world. It is called protis (individualized) because the providence is personalized for each person according to his service of G﷓d. That is why it is also referred to as hashgocha ishis (personal Providence) by the Rishonim. This process is carried out with great precision according to the person’s deeds in order to give him the necessary means to fulfill his service of G﷓d. There are also times when G﷓d incapacitates him in order to cause him to contemplate and improve his deeds. Our sages (Yevamos 121b) refer to this accuracy when they say “G﷓d is very particular with His pious ones to the precision of a hair’s breadth.” In contrast hashgocha clallis (general Providence) is for those who don’t serve G﷓d at all or serve Him in a mechanical fashion without any inner awareness. Therefore their deeds do not reveal G﷓d’s honor in a direct manner. These type of people function simply to provide assistance to the true tzadik in his service of G﷓d. They develop the physical aspects of the world to enable the tzadik to serve G﷓d. Therefore what these people get in this world does not correspond directly to their deeds. That is because their personal accomplishments have no inherent value. They have merit only to the degree they assist the tzadik. Consequently the Providence for them is not direct and that is why it is referred to as clallis (general). That is because it is possible that the needs of the tzadik require that equal portions be given to many people in spite of individual differences in their deeds. This is the Providence that applies to the nations of the world as well as all those Jews whose main occupation is developing this world. It applies also to those who are occupied in Torah and mitzvos in a superficial manner out of habit or for ulterior motivation…. In fact those who slumber and are relatively insensitive to spiritual issues… i.e., all non﷓Jews and most Jews—except for some exception—they are without a doubt under the control of natural laws… This is no different than the animals whose Providence is not for the individual but only for the species—because it as a species they fulfill G﷓d’s will.

  14. Seforno (Vayikra 13:47): When a person sins because he follows his lusts and thus turns away from G﷓d’s will or he simply rebels against G﷓d, he will be punished justly according to G﷓d’s justice. When a person sins accidentally he will typically be punished either financial or physically according to G﷓d’s wisdom in order to arouse him repent. In contrast those who are as insensitive as one asleep and thus have no realization of what is happening and are not motivated to know—this includes all the nations as well as the majority of Jews except for a few exceptions—they are without doubt under the direction of nature or mazel. They do not receive hashgocha protis but rather a general form of Providence which is for the species rather than the individual. Thus they are like the animals and other forms of life which does not have individual Providence. They thus fulfill G﷓d’s will only on the level of the group not as individuals.

  15. Ramban (Shaar HaGemul #118): Since Chazal gave these explanations for suffering of the righteous based upon the traditions they received [alternative text: according to their intention] and according to their understanding of the verses in Torah and Neviim—why do we find that the prophets themselves complained about this issue? Why was Yirmiyahu (12:1) perplexed as to why the wicked were successful since G﷓d is righteous? Dovid [Assaf] (Tehilim 73:13) and Yeshaya (63:17) were also mystified by the suffering of the righteous and success of the wicked as was Chavakuk (1:3; 1:4). There was much debate concerning these issues in Job. Furthermore Chazal (Avos 4:15) themselves said that it is beyond our comprehension to understand the serenity of the wicked and the suffering of the righteous. However others rejected this view that suffering is beyond comprehension. In fact some of our sages have a disagreement in Shabbos (55a) whether all death and suffering is the direct result of sin. The gemora itself rejects the principle that death must be the result of sin but not the principle that all suffering is the result of sin. But if you insist that the gemora is rejecting both principles and thus suffering or death is not the result of an individual’s, we can reply that still it is the result of sin of previous generations such as the sin of Adam. Similarly this disagreement amongst our sages in found in Berachos (7a) where it is asserted that Moshe asked G﷓d why the righteous suffer. One view is that suffering is always the result of sin while another is that suffering is the result of the sins of one’s forbearers and yet the view of R’ Meir is that man is not capable of comprehending the answer to the question…

  16. Ramban (Shaar HaGemul #118): To conclude the topic of suffering: It is proper for a person who experienced any mishap or calamity to believe that it is the result of his sins. He should repent for the sins that he is aware of and should confess in general for those he doesn’t remember… If he sees a tzadik who dies as a tzadik, he should try to attribute it to the small number of sins that he committed. Similar one should assume that the tranquility of a wicked person is the result of some good deeds he might have done. If that explanation is not satisfactory because of the apparent greatness of the tzadik his outstanding merit, total freedom from sin and pure heart then he should realize that this is not readily answered about another person…. He should assume however that ultimately the righteous person will be justly rewarded for his righteousness…or that it involves the secret of transmigration of souls… In any case he should believe that there is righteousness, goodness and correct judgment in G﷓d’s decisions—even though it might be concealed from him…. All of this is appropriate for every intelligent person to think about in order to understand how G﷓d runs the world and His goodness with all His creatures. It is also critical that everyone understand the need to accept chastisement in the form of suffering. Nevertheless after saying all this, the question of why the righteous suffer still remains because we lack the ability to see events in its full context. In addition we typically don’t investigate the facts fully. We simply focus on the question of how this person got what he deserved in light of the fact that G﷓d gives everyone what he deserves. In fact we see tzadikim who are killed while studying Torah or while they are fasting and praying with great fervor. Some people are born without organs and limbs. Some die before the age of 20 and yet were tzadikim who devoted their short lives to studying Torah and doing mitzvos. How could they deserve the punishment to die at the hand of Heaven which isn’t applicable until after the age of 20?… The suffering of the righteous Job is another case which is difficult to understand. So is the story of Rabbi Akiva whose Torah was so great and yet died in such a horrible way. Much more common are the cases of the wicked who enjoy peace and prosperity. Nevertheless the validity of the problem of suffering of the righteous and the peace of the wicked is independent upon whether it is rare or common. Our concern is not with man per se…but our questions are directed to G﷓d whose deeds are just without any failing. It appears that the Rambam that the issue of the prosperity of the wicked did not bother him since that is simply a manifestation of G﷓d’s kindness. The principle uncertainty concerns the suffering of the righteous. The Rambam asserts that the world is inherently kindness and that the suffering and calamities are typically either part of nature or created by man. He views that the only suffering and death from Heaven is for sin. This is true with the addition of what we have written and alluded to already. Blessed is he who knows the true and righteous Judge

  17. Rambam (Commentary to Berachos 9:5): Don’t ask me to provide more than then the simple explanation because this subject is rife with contradictions in the verses as well as the words of our sages. The fundamental principle is that G﷓d rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked. Everything is done with total justice…. However we are unable to comprehend the nature of this justice because of the inherent inability of the human mind to understand G﷓d’s mind. The Torah tells use that it is beyond out abilities to fathom His wisdom and the righteousness of His every deed. This is expressed in Yeshaya(55:9): For as the Heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Therefore you should rely on this principle and don’t frustrate yourself trying to plumb the depths of this issue. Because all the Torah scholars and others who have investigated this matter have never been successful. It is described as “Diving into deep waters and only coming up with broken pottery.” If it appears that someone has a true explanation of this—it simply isn’t so. If you understand it properly then what appears on the surface to be coherent will be revealed to be inherently full of difficulties. You will then be forced to accept the view that I have proposed and realize you have wasted time with these various proposals. In fact the words of the philosophers are very astounding and deep and require much preliminary explanations. An intelligent man is able to understand them and when matching them up to what it says in the Torah will see that they are saying what I have said concerning this matter or perhaps something slightly more deep and precise. I will discuss this in more detail in the 8th chapter of Shemonah Perakim….

  18. The second approach is said strongly by Ohr HaChayim on HaBor Raik Ein Bo Mayim - he says clearly there (from memory) that human beings with bechira chofshis could choose to kill someone that had no gzar din against them in shamayim. Basically that's the price of bechira chofshis.

    Yes, there are lots of ways to try to reconcile them, but all the reconciliation so far has the effect of reducing the strength of one of the positions.

  19. Ohr HaChaim (Bereishis 37:21): He saved them from harm at their hands. Since man has free will and choice and he can kill someone even if they are not deserving of death—as opposed to animals that do not harm man unless he is deserving of death—the verse is referring to salvation from the hand of man who has free will to kill.

  20. "Rambam: It is proper for a person who experienced any mishap or calamity to believe that it is the result of his sins."

    Well: it is most improper to tell a victim of sexual abuse, especially childhood sexual abuse something like this.

    A person under Bar/Bat Mitzwah (some say: under 20) is not yet even able to sin, so very obviously, this Rambam does in no way apply to this case. Please, give me a break.

  21. A person under Bar/Bat Mitzwah (some say: under 20) is not yet even able to sin, so very obviously, this Rambam does in no way apply to this case. Please, give me a break.

    This is not strictly true. They are not responsible for their sins. The AR"I states in Sha'ar HaGilgulim Hakdama 3 that the person does not recieve a yetzer tov until they are 13 thus they have no choice but to sin.

    Furthermore you are discounting the sins of previous Gilgulim. While heaven may not hold a child accountable for the sins committed in this life, the same cannot be said for sins committed in previous lives.

    You may not find every Torah view to be immediately comforting, in fact some may come across as offensive. R' Ovadia Yosef is famous for applying a statement that the AR"I made concerning the Inquisition to the Holocaust, saying that those who suffered and died had been sinners in previous lives, and this was their Kapparah. Now you may ask whether such a view gives a person peace and comfort... That truly depends upon the individual, for it to be comforting it requires that one submit to HaShem's ultimate will, and a startling sense of cosmic justice.

  22. as I said before: sexual abuse, particularly child sexual abuse often works in this way that the perpetrator "highjacks" the conscience and innocence of the victim in order to manipulate her/him for his despicable aims.

    Therefore, I think it is more than couterproductive to try to heal the damage done by a second assault on the victim's conscience, by saying "think it over well, my dear, what are the sins you have done, in this gilgul or a precedent gilgul, to justify the fact that this happened to you."

    The problem is precisely that victims of sexual abuse tend to take too much blame upon themselves. So, please, refrain from any rethoric, kabbalistic, religious or other that might place the burden upon them (as approach 1 or this Gilgul story)

  23. Daas Torah said...

    Could you give the mekor for this Netziv? Thanks.
    This is taken from my Daaas Torah page 438 also look at 562-847
    which brings sources of when free-will, chance or mazel overcome providence

    Thanks. I'll try to absorb these over the next little while.

  24. Shoshi,

    Sorry that you find the Torah counterproductive to helping people with their problems.

    As a victim of abuse, I personally find it helpful. That it gives meaning to what would otherwise be meaningless.

  25. Mekubal: You are distorting what I said.

    It is perfectly within the range of the Torah that we don't know Why G-d does what and that we cannot explain the suffering of innocent people.

    Furthermore, it is perfectly within the range of Torah to say that sexual abuse, especially within the family, is immoral and, in the case of incest, deserves capital punishment.

    So I cannot really see your problem.

    If you think that you were abused because you deserved punishment for your sins in this or a former life, and this helps you, I am perfectly fine with that.

    However, I am not fine with forcing this view that tends to say that "you are responsable for what happened" on anyone else.

    As I said: victims of sexual abuse, especially child sexual abuse, tend to take too much of the blame upon themselves, because in many cases they were manipulated by the perpetrators, and because the issue of sexual abuse is heavily burdened with shame, also for the innocent victim. So it seems countraproductive to force Torah views upon them that were conceived for other circumstances and that tend to reinforce the guilt-trip.

    It is more important to make it absolutely clear that the perpetrator is responsible for what happened, that he deserves to be punished, and that the victim has to learn and live with a damage she/he incurred without any fault of her/his own.

  26. Shoshi,

    Actually you said that D"T should not even discuss it in his upcomming book. Which ultimately is suppression of a very valid Torah view that many people today hold. You have also stated that a valid Torah point of view is worse than counterproductive. Finally you are making assumptions about how that view is portrayed to people. There is nothing saying that the perp was not in the wrong. However, ultimately it is dealing with how an all powerful G-d could allow something to happen. Ultimately to say that someone can act in a way that is against G-d's will is to say that G-d is not omnipotent.

    Thus the way the two views break down is one to say that your life was not worthy of G-d's intervention(view #2) or that you were worthy however, on account of some sin in this life, or a pervious life, you needed to go through this horrid event for atonement and a better place in the world to come(view #1).

  27. shoshi said...

    Mekubal, Daas torah:

    In the past two years, I have moved around in the jewish blogosphere, reading some Chareidi and some OTD blogs and newscenters.

    I have to say that no OTD or anti-Chareidi blog made the Torah look as ridiculous as the chareidi blogs, including Daas torah.
    You have been asked a number of times to speak more respectfully of the religious beliefs of others - but you seem to delight in despising Orthodox beliefs and you refuse to moderate your arrogant and ignorant comments. I will not be posting anymore of your comments.

  28. In a certain way I am going to miss Shoshi. Once you got past the rudeness of the statements, at times they could be quite thought provoking.

  29. mekubal said...

    In a certain way I am going to miss Shoshi. Once you got past the rudeness of the statements, at times they could be quite thought provoking.
    True. That perhaps was the problem. If she were just stupid and insensitive, I probably would have just ignored her. But she is intelligent and sensitive - except regarding any aspects of Yiddishkeit she didn't like.She refused to accept that her style of making sweeping insulting judgment about well established Orthodox concepts served only to irritate most of the readership. There are other well known blogs where her biting put downs of Orthodoxy will be greatly appreciated.

  30. If I, like R Saadiah Gaon and other great authorities, do not believe in the entire concept of gilgulim, then what is the reason for the suffering?

    And is there a reason why it is not ok to ask that question or am I just losing my mind and never wrote that here in the first place? Thanks.

    [DT please did not post anonymously - I just delete them]

  31. My understanding of the Kabbalah and Hashkafa of R' Saadiah Gaon, is that he would say that your soul, which while a new creation, emanated from a very lowly source. Thus for you to ascend the path of righteous to IY"H become a tzaddik, you have been apportioned a certain amount of yisurim. What would then be key would be to accept those yisurim as the will of HaShem, to submit to His Divine authority, and know that it is, in the end, all for your best.

    It is important to remember though, as Shoshi pointed out however inappropriately, that on a pashut level, the person sinned, and the victim was the object upon which he vented his rebellion against the decrees of Torah.

    Every other explanation that we may give, as to trying to understand how or why HaShem allowed this to occur, or even willed it to occur is in an entirely different realm. R' Eliyahu Mani, in his sefer Kise Eliyahu, Shaar Reishit Hokhma goes to great lengths do demonstrate that all of these explanation are inherently flawed, in that we are trying to describe something in an understandable way that humanity has absolutely no capacity to comprehend. We apply such anthropomorphisms to Hashem such as "will", however, in reality we cannot truly say that HaShem has a "will" in any way which we can understand. R' Mani goes so far as to say that everything from angels to souls is simply a mental construct for us humans to be able to try to understand the divine, while in reality none of these things truly exists... chew on that and how it affects any of these views.

  32. observer said:
    If I, like R Saadiah Gaon and other great authorities, do not believe in the entire concept of gilgulim, then what is the reason for the suffering?

    I'm not sure I understand the question. There are many reasons for suffering mentioned in Torah sources. The concept of gilgul is only one, relative minor, such concept. The only area where gilgul plays a major role is in regard to extraordinary suffering by children, especially very young children.

    Briefly, the conventional explanations for suffering tend to be difficult to apply to children. The most basic explanation, punishment for sin, cannot be applied to children at all, as they are, by definition, incapable of sinning. The idea of suffering as a means towards earning merit also cannot apply to children, for the same reason. The idea of suffering as a means of growth can be applied to children to a degree - but doesn't work well if the suffering is extreme (or if, ח"ו, the child passes away) or if the child is very young.

    Similarly, the idea that God might remove his hashgacha from a child is deeply troubling.

    When dealing with the suffering of children, we don't have much except the concept, as taught by the Rambam (is their an earlier source?), that God will punishes parents through their children. Obviously, this concept is not satisfying for many, nor will it work in every case (what about an orphan?).

    In the end, the concept of gilgul is the best available explanation for the suffering of children.


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