All of these things happen because Hashem's punishment process is not the same as that of humans who are empowered to punish.
I wanted to ask you some questions regarding certain pesukim in Tanach I am having trouble understanding why such a stringent reaction was elicited from G-d. The sources are as follows:
- 1 Samuel 6:19 … Hashem kills people who look into the ark of Hashem.
2 Samuel 12 … David’s child from Batsheva dies --- why should the child be punished on account of Dovid HaMelech – further more; according to chazal his actions were not as bad as the pesukim seem to say … so why the harsh response?
- 2 Samuel 24:1-25 … Dovid’s wrongful census and the pestilence. The whole perek is an enigma to me. I saw according to some meforshim Hashem “pushed” David HaMelech to take the census … also the meforshim say Hashem was any ways angry with Klal Yisroel but they can’t seem to come to a conclusion on what exactly it was they did that Hashem wanted to punish them. ---------
(As of 3/23/11, I did some more research on this. The Ramban brings a plethora of sources to say it was because Klal Yisroel did not ask Dovid HaMelech to build the Bis HaMikdosh. Why was this such a grievance sin?)
- 1 Kings 13:15-24 … False prophet gets “man of G-d” to fall for trap, G-d kills true man of G-d.
The Gemorah in Sanhedrin said it was because he transgressed his nevua --- considering the circumstances (he was tricked) why was he still punished with death? Why does transgressing a nevua merit misah b'yadei shomoyim?
- Isaiah 13:15-19 … Downfall of Babylonia. I am aware that they were thoroughly wicked; but why would G-d take such vengeance against babies and youth. Perhaps “midah kaneged midah” is the response – but why should they pay of the sins of their parents? Do goyishe babies also get rewarded for being killed at an early age?
When a human punishes, it is a 2-step process: First, the perpetrator commits the crime, and then, the punisher punishes. In such a case, you have a right to ask why the punisher punished in a certain way and not in another, seemingly more appropriate way.
But that's not the way Schar V'Onesh works. It's not that Hashem observes a perpetrator and then decides how to punish him. Rather, the punishment is a direct result of the crime itself. In other words, just as if someone drinks poison they die; when they jump out of a moving car they break their bones; when they poke themselves with a needle they feel pain. So too "punishment" for sin is a direct and natural consequence of the sin itself.
Just like there is nature in the physical world, there is nature in the spiritual world. And when someone explodes a bomb in a crowded theater, people will be killed and maimed, so too when a person does a certain Aveirah, forces are unleashed that result in consequences that manifest in a person's Neshoma for sure, but also often in the physical world. When Chazal say חרב בא לעולם על ענוי הדין ועל עוות הדין ועל המורים בתורה שלא כהלכה - it means that if someone does these things, it is the same as leaving a car bomb in Times Square during rush hour. Innocent people will get hurt.
And just as we would not ask how could Hashem allow innocent people to get hurt because of another person's car bomb, so too we would not ask how could innocent people get hurt because of someone's עוות הדין.
It's the way nature was set up.
If someone shoots someone else, a innocent person will get shot. If someone sins, he too triggers various changes in nature, always dangerous, and often unfortunately lethal.
If children in Babylon - or Sodom, for example - are killed even though they did not sin, it is as tragic, but no more perplexing, than had they died in a fire started by others. Punishment for sins is not a reaction by Hashem to the sin - it is the direct and natural consequence of the forces unleashed by the sin itself.
As far as seemingly small Aveiros resulting in severe consequences, we have a rule אין אתה יודע מתן שכרן של מצוות. Which means that a seemingly small Aveirah may be anything but. And of course we need to consider who is doing the Aveirah as well. Tzadikim get judged כחוט השערה. And where things like חילול השם is concerned, Shogeg is punished like Meizid.