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In troubled times, we Jews still trust in and bless G-d. Here is a bit of insight into why that is.

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When Rabbi Akiva awoke and discovered what had happened, he praised G-d and said “This too is for the good.” (Photo: globalsecurity.org)

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Why do we say such things in times of unpleasantness, suffering and tragedy, or in the case of Blessed is the true judge, in response to hearing of someone’s death?

It seems counterintuitive to offer praise when we face times of hardship and of sorrow. Yet, this is precisely what we are doing when we utter either of these responses.

The Mishnah, the oral Torah, tells us that we need to bless G-d for the bad as well as for the good. In fact, the Talmud, which combines the Mishnah and rabbinic discussions, further dictates that we should accept the bad with joy. How does one receive the negative with joy? When bad things happen, we are not conditioned to simply accept them. Our human condition leads us to question why, our how, these things can happen?

However, in Judaism this is exactly what we are told that we must do. This is directly tied to faith. Faith that G-d is fair and just. Faith that everything that G-d does is ultimately out of love for us. Faith that, though WE may not understand the why and the how, there is a positive side to sorrow.

There is a story that is told in the Talmud of a great sage, Rabbi Akiva, who was travelling. He arrived at a city and went about trying to find somewhere to sleep. When he could not find anywhere, he said to himself “This too is for the good,” and he went to sleep in one of the fields near the city proper.

Amongst his belongings, Rabbi Akiva had a rooster, a donkey and a lamp. As he slept, a wind came along and blew out his lamp, leaving him in darkness. Shortly after, under the cover of darkness, a cat came by and ate the rooster and then a lion ate the donkey.

When Rabbi Akiva awoke and discovered what had happened, he praised G-d and said “This too is for the good.”

It turns out that while Rabbi Akiva slept, raiders came and killed or captured those in the city. If Rabbi Akiva’s candle was lit, or if his rooster or donkey had made noise in the night as such animals are likely to, Rabbi Akiva would have been discovered by the raiders and suffered the same fate as the city folk.

Death is the ultimate mystery for us. Why do some live long lives and some short? Why do some suffer and some don’t?

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How does G-d choose who lives and who dies? While these things are a mystery to us, the reasoning is clear to G-d.

When we say Baruch Dayan Ha’Emet – Blessed is the true judge, or Gam Ze L’tovah – This too is for the good, we are not asking people to take joy in, or to be thankful of, the tragedy that has occurred. We are taking comfort in the knowledge that these events are part of G-d’s plan for our greater good.

The truth is that there is an infinite gap between G-d’s ways and our understanding, and though try as we may, most times comprehension is beyond our reach. What sustains us throughout, what offers us a measure of comfort to be thankful for, is the faith that the True Judge knows what He is doing.

And thus, we say Baruch Dayan Ha’Emet – Blessed be the Judge.

Rav Corey Margolese is the founder of JTeach.ca, a not-for-profit organization that offers training and resources in the dangers of antisemitism, Holocaust education, and in Judaic traditions, culture and religion. He is a public school teacher.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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