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Ignoring Spiritual Causes Of Public Suffering

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#1 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 06:49 AM

רמב"ם יד החזקה הלכות תעניות פרק א

(א) מצות עשה מן התורה לזעוק ולהריע בחצוצרות על כל צרה שתבא על הצבור שנאמר (במדבר י') על הצר הצורר אתכם והרעותם בחצוצרות כלומר כל דבר שייצר לכם כגון בצורת ודבר וארבה וכיוצא בהן זעקו עליהן והריעו:

(ב) ודבר זה מדרכי התשובה הוא שבזמן שתבוא צרה ויזעקו עליה ויריעו ידעו הכל שבגלל מעשיהם הרעים הורע להן ככתוב (ירמיהו ה') עונותיכם הטו וגו' וזה הוא שיגרום להם להסיר הצרה מעליהם:

(ג) 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 (ויקרא כ"ו) והלכתם עמי בקרי והלכתי עמכם בחמת קרי כלומר כשאביא עליכם צרה כדי שתשובו אם תאמרו שהוא קרי אוסיף לכם חמת אותו קרי:

Attributing suffering to natural causes without taking it as a wake-up call is like you seeing someone screaming in pain, and you notice he is sitting on a burning stove. You have an opportunity to tell him to get off the stove, but don't. That's not being "sensitive" to his pain. That is being cruel, because if he understands why his pain is happening he can try to do something to alleviate it.

Same here. If we can try to identify the cause of our suffering but don't, we are being cruel to those who suffer, because by identifying the cause of the suffering you thereby help the victim alleviate the suffering.


#2 FS613



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Posted 31 October 2012 - 07:28 PM

L'Chvod Rabbi Shapiro, Shlita:

Is it a possibility that we have lost Hashem's protection because of issues with clothing and Sheitels which are not modest?

Thank you.

#3 AYidOnTheWayUp



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Posted 05 November 2012 - 04:26 PM

Many Rabbanim are saying that the storm happened for various reasons, my question is, if it was for reasons like gay marriage, or Metzizah bpeh then why arent the gay people the ones suffering or why isnt the officials behind the metzizah bpeh getting punished? It almost looks like many of the wrong people are getting hit?

#4 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 10:28 AM

It doesn't work like that. When a person does an Aveirah it's like poisoning the atmosphere. The effects don't necessarily affect the perpetrator, and certainly not him alone. Or, to use a more well known analogy, it's like someone in a boat who drills a hole in the bottom of the boat. It's very possible that he will survive and others won't. But that doesn't mean his act wasn't the cause.


Besides, as Chazal say, people are punished for not doing enough to prevent the Aveiros from happening. People are punished for not protesting enough against wrongdoing. The Din against someone who could have done more to protest may even be more severe than the Din against the person who committed the Aveirah. Not protesting is an Aveirah in and of itself, and each Avaryan is subject to an individual judgement. 


As far as people not knowing the cause of the disasters, it is like a lung cancer patient telling a doctor "You don't know if the fact that I smoke 2 packs a day caused my sickness. Lots of people who don't smoke get lung cancer. You're not a Navi. How dare you tell me that my smoking caused me to get sick?"


So too here. Hashem wants us to look into the Torah to find the cause of our tragedies. He told us so, in Brachos (5a). If in the Torah is says a certain sin that we are guilty of causes certain effects, we are to take that as a message from Hashem to stop doing that Aveirah. And whereas in the case of the doctor and the lung cancer patient, the doctor cannot say for sure whether the patient's smoking was the cause of the sickness, in the case of the tragedy, we are told by Hashem that looking gives you the key to alleviating the suffering. 


The only question is how to discern the Torah's message. The way we do that is the same way we discern the many messages that the Torah tells us - the אסור and the מותר; the פטור and the חייב. There are people who are experts in discerning the messages of the Torah. It is they that we should turn to to discern this message as well.