Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Reward and Punishment

The Shem Mishmuel asks why it is worth going through life to do Mitzvos if you will inevitably do aveiros. Here's the answer:
Imagine a guy who spends all his life investing money. He keeps losing a thousand dollars every day, and but once a year he makes a million.


That's worth it, no?

Even though he messed up on 364 investments and only succeeded on one, still, "one minute of success is worth months of failure", in such a case.

So too, all the pain we go through in Gehinnom for is more than worth it for a single little Mitzvah that we do. The reward for one Mitzvah is so great that it makes it worth doing even a lifetime of aveiros and suffering their punishments just to get it.

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Goyim do get a type of Olam Habah - the Mishna says so in Sanhedrin, after "kol yisroel yesh lohemchelek lolam habah". It refers to Goyim who, like some Jews, have no share in Olam Habah, which means that other Goyim do.

Goyim who keep the 7 Mitzvos bnei Noach do get a posthumous reward, but it is not the same as the Olam Habah that Jews get. The phrase "olam habah" in this sense is only a homonym. They are not related in their natures at all.

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The dispute about the ultimate reward predates the Rambam and Ramban. Rav Saadia Gaon (Emunos v'Deos 7:8) holds that the ultimate reward is in the body, and Kuzari and Chovos Halvovos seem to hold that it is on Olam Haneshomos.

The Rambam is also in Hilchos Teshuva 8:2.

The Raavad argues on him on the spot, as do most Rishonim in Sanhedrin 90a.

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G-d, being Good and Benevolent, wanted to bestow the feeling of perfect happiness on others. So He had a plan to create others that can enjoy this infinite, amazing G-d-Pleasure, just like He Himself does. But there was a problem.

You can’t enjoy this pleasure unless you are G-d Himself. It’s too great, too much, too G-dly, for anyone or anything but G-d Himself to relate to. So how can G-d give to others this pleasure that only G-d Himself can enjoy?

The answer: Create beings that have the ability to connect to G-d in such a way that they can actually be part of G-d, but with their own individual identity. Since they are part of G-d, connected to His essence, they will be able to enjoy the G-d pleasure, but only to the extent that they are connected.

Now since Hashem is perfect, and by definition there is only one version of perfection (2 different things cannot be absolutely perfect in the same way) there is also only one way to become part of Hashem.

So Hashem extracted His essence, His Will, what makes Him Him, which could not be different than it is, since His essence is perfect (like He is) and perfection only has one version.

That essence is the Torah. When we fulfill the Torah we are enabling ourselves to connect to Hashem. Since the Torah works through Bechirah, there had to be bechirah. there's no other way to connect to Hashem. Even Hashem could not create such a thing. And since the Torah works with rules such as l'fum tzaarah agra, that is the path to perfection.

The Nahamah d'kisufa concept as such is an oversimplification. It's meant more as a reference than a fully explanatory answer. Unfortunately, a lot of people, even knowledgeable ones, don't get past the elementary stage with this. Then, when the sophistication of their ability to question things exceeds the sophistication of their level of knowledge, they get confused.

In Olam Habah we become connected to Hashem - "part" of Hashem, so to speak. Therefore, just as Hashem is perfect, so too we will be able to plug into that perfection. It's not a house or some unfulfilling reward. It's THE ONLY fulfillment and infinite pleasure that a person can ever have. The reason why material things are unfulfilling is because you have a soul that doesn't care for them - and it is your soul that remains unfulfilled. But your soul - and your body - will be perfectly fulfilled and perfectly happy with Olam Habah.

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There's a Yetzer Horah that was created with the specific mission to make it not so obvious that Torah life means happiness. If it were as obvious as it should be, then people would not deserve credit for leading a Torah life, since it would simply be an issue of choosing pleasure over pain, which any animal would do.

But the Torah type of pleasure was designed to be there only for those who make the conscious choice to see through the darkness and to be willing to work for it.

The type of happiness that the Torah lifestyle brings is peace of mind, harmony of soul and emotions, and lack of worry and anxiety at the problems of life - each individual according to his level. Plus a feeling of real accomplishment, of having a purpose (a real purpose, not some contrived one like the Umos Haolam have), and of getting closer to Perfection. These are things that you have to cultivate a taste for. Like fine wine, perhaps. You have to understand it, get used to it, and be committed to it, but after that is done, its pleasurable.

Lies and fakeness only exist in this world since it is physical and false. In the next world, the Olam HaEmes, there is no such thing as hiding or being a faker or putting on a facade. And therefore, what you really are - which is a sum total of every single thing you ever did and said - is exactly what you will "look like" and the Truth in its purest form is so real and so clear that every single individual act will be shown on your "face".

So asking how Hashem can embarrass people by having their aveiros shown after they pass away is like asking, if someone paints a stupid looking tattoo on his nose, why does G-d embarrass him by allowing everyone in the street to see the tattoo?

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It's the EFFORT that earns the Pleasure, NOT the result. So if 2 people put in the same effort and only one succeeds, THEY GET THE SAME REWARD.

Therefore, if you do your best, G-d will NEVER punish you for not succeeding. The Gemora in Kesuvos tells of a case where a woman said no to a guy but the guy persisted, all the way.

Eventually, in the middle of the act, she stopped saying no, and actually took pleasure in it. The Gemora rules that she is 100% innocent, and it is considered 100% rape, even though she eventually wanted it, because she tried her best to say no, and even if she did not 100% succeed, she 100% tried. We are judged according to our efforts, how much we try.

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There is a "hell." Evil people go there.

If someone is worthy, he does get "another chance" by returning in a Gilgul - reincarnation. But getting reincarnated is terribly painful for the soul - maybe more so, even, than hell. This is because this world is an unnatural place for a soul - it belongs with G-d in His world.

Some evil people spend eternity in oblivion after they roast for a long time in hell. Oblivion is also painful for the soul, since these souls remain forever separate from Hashem. Does a person/soul remember if they lived in another life? As a rule, no. Great Tzadikim, however, Baalei Ruach haKodesh, have been able to discern their own past lives, as well as those of others. Rav Chaim Vital's "Sefer HaGilgulim" is the most classic example of this.

Rav Sadiah Gaon did not believe in gilgulim because he didn't have the benefit of the sefer hazohar, that was discovered in the days of the Ramban (probably), which was after Rav Sadiah Gaon. There it states explicitly, many times, that gilgulim are real. The Zohar has tannaic authority; and so, we do not follow Rav Sadiah Gaon on this. We assume that had he seen the Zohar, he would not have said that they aren't real.

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The Gemora (Rosh Hashanah 17a) says that evil-doers (Posh'im b'gufan) first burn in Gehinom and then their bodies are undone and their souls get burnt up.

The reason is because Gehinnom is not merely a purification process but a punishment as well. They go to Gehinnom because they deserve it.

Gehinnom is not a specific place, but rather the pain that comes from your soul being so unable to connect to Hashem because of its sins.

Gehinnom is not run by any devil - there is no devil. Hashem runs the whole world.

The Yetzer Horah does not want people to go to Geheinnom. The Christian fictional devil is our enemy who wants us to fall. The Satan is our sparring partner who wants us to beat it, even though it fights hard against us to train us to fight. When we go to heaven, the Satan is the first to rejoice, just as the sparring partner is the first to have Nachas when his client becomes world champion.

Gehinnom is a cleansing process of the soul. The pain purifies the soul. After the soul is sufficiently cleansed of its sins, it then goes to heaven (Gan eden) to collect its reward. it does not go "either to heaven of hell."

There really is zero similarity between the idolatrous idea of purgatory, and Gehinnom.
"Some time cleansing ourselves" is a lot more serious than it sounds. Imagine, for instance, spending an hour straight in the dentist's chair, your teeth being drilled with NO NOVOCAIN. Then imagine it for like a year straight.

Then intensify that pain a thousand fold. And more.

Now we're going in the direction of understanding what it means to be "cleansed for a little while". The pain of Gehinnom is unimaginable.

If you will not commit an aveira for fear of being punished, then you can see why Hashem created punishment. Reason #1: As a deterrent.

Without punishment, many more sins would be committed in this world.

Reason #2: Punishment is not really punishment. The pain or trouble that comes as a result of an aveirah is a Kaparah - a purification process, whereby the sin is cleansed from the soul of the sinner. It is like the pain of bitter medicine, which, although undesirable at first, is actually a great benefit in the long run.

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Suicide is murder.

And it's worse than murder. The meforshim tell us that someone who commits suicide loses his share in olam habah.

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G-d does punish, but you kind of bring it on yourself. As Shlomo HaMelch says, “B’rshoso yipol rashah”, “The evil man falls into his own evil”.

Just read the Tochachah, or the Chazal known as Mesechta Gehinnom. It's clear. You do Mitzvos, you get "schar"; you do aveiros, you get "onesh".

But you need to understand what that means. There are two parts to this: Punishment in this world, and punishment in the next. Here, we’ll deal with the next.

Jews are made out of three distinct parts. [This was said in a previous section, but I’m keeping this “repeat” here for clarity –taon]

(1) There's your personality, the part you would call "you". We'll call this the Ruach. The Ruach is made out of that very personal stuff inside you that makes you you. When you say "me", you really mean "My Ruach".

(2) Then there's your body - which is not “you”; it is a part of you, in the same sense that your hand is part of you, it is a possession of yours but it is not "you". Even though your body is made of dirt, physical stuff, your body also has a spiritual element to it, a kind of “spiritual dirt”. This spiritual part of the body is what passes for the "soul" of animals. There is nothing G-dly about this “animal soul”, that people, too, possess. In fact, it hungers for all the physical things in the world. We will call these components the Guf and the Nefesh Habahamis, or simply as Nefesh, for short.

(3) Part three is called Neshoma. It is made out of G-d. Really. It is a piece of Hashem Himself, that He connected to each and every one of us.

So you and I are composed of (a) Guf-Nefesh HaBehamis, (b) Ruach, (c) Neshoma.

Now there’s a problem here. You have a person who is comprised of two opposite spiritual forces: G-d, the Highest of the high, and dirt, the lowest of the low. How do they get along connected in the same person? The answer is they don’t. These are two conflicting forces within a person, each one wanting to escape from the other and rejoin its original source – the Neshoma wanting to connect back to Hashem, and the Nefesh wanting to connect to everything physical. You, your Ruach, is stuck in the middle. It’s like a tug of war, with the Neshoma pitted against the Nefesh. And the Ruach? The “you”? Heh heh – you’re the rope! The Neshoma and the Nefesh HaBehamis pull you in opposite directions.

The Nefesh HaBehamis is also known as the Yetzer Horah; the Neshomah is the Yetzer Tov.

The Neshoma is the underdog in this tug of war because he’s fighting on foreign territory – he’s a G-dly entity in a physical world. The whole environment is stacked against him. But to even things out, in this tug of war, the rope itself can help either side to pull harder. That’s your free Will. You can help the Neshoma win the tug of war, giving it the strength to pull you AND your Nefesh all the way over the “line” into the world of Holiness. If the Neshoma can do this, you, your Neshoma, your Guf and your Nefesh experience Paradise on that “other side of the line”. You all get pulled into Hashem’s realm. The body itself, together with the Nefesh, is sanctified, and eventually enjoys the infinite delights of Olam Habbah.

If, however, you don’t put in the effort to help the Neshoma beat the Nefesh, or worse, you help the Nefesh win, then the Neshoma loses the tug of war. But the Neshoma never crosses over into the physical world. You can’t corrupt a piece of G-d. Instead, it simply sees that it cannot hold the rope any longer without getting pulled in, and simply lets go. If that happens, you lose your Neshoma. You become no better than an animal.

The word “chet”, sin, literally means “missing”. One explanation given is that with every sin, we lose a little piece of our Neshoma. With each Mitzvah, we gain a piece. And the Neshoma becomes that much closer to overpowering the Nefesh.

Eventually, we die. At that time, if the Neshoma won the tug of war, all four of you – Neshoma, Ruach, Nefesh and Guf – together enjoy the infinite pleasure of connecting to Hashem. Hashem is Perfect, and there’s no greater pleasure than having EVERYTHING perfect with you. At first, the body gets buried and the spiritual parts of you go into “storage” (Olam HaNeshomos or “Gan Eden”) until Moshiach comes, at which time you’re all united and able to enjoy the Infinite pleasure together.

If, however, the Nefesh and the Guf won the tug of war, and the Neshoma let go of the rope, when you die, you find yourself in Hashem’s world as an entity comprised of animalism without a Neshoma. That is very, very, very painful. Beyond belief painful. Talk about not fitting in . . . ! Of course, most of us are not perfectly spiritual or perfectly animalistic when we die, but somewhere in between. And to the extent that the Neshoma was able to sanctify the body, we connect with Hashem and draw pleasure; to the extent that the physical aspects of us were victorious, we are out of place, and in pain.

Now the question is, what does G-d do with the “soul in pain” after death? The answer is that after the physical/animal aspects of the person are “burnt up” by the spiritual world in which it finds itself (that “burning” is Hell-Gehinnom), G-d may allow what is left of that person to attach itself to Him on whatever level it can, or He may decide to send him back to this world with another body for another shot at conquering the Nefesh. Going back to the world for another shot is called “Gilgul Haneshomos”.

Gilgul Haneshomos is even more painful even then Gehinnom. At least in Gehinnom, it’s in a spiritual realm, and no matter how painful it is, it’s better than sending a soul back to the physical realm of dirt, having to live and fight in an environment that is anathema to its nature.

Either way, it’s no picnic.

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Just because 2 people are necessary components of the same action does not mean they get equal credit for that action. Bill Gates can't get his computer to you without the UPS boy who delivers it. But your ability to use the computer is certainly more due to Bill than to the UPS guy.

So too Torah is what fuels all the blessings in the world. Including the happiness of the Choson and Kallah, and the support of the poor. The Mitzvah-doers - and this is not to minimize their part c"v - merely fulfill what Torah learning allows.

There is another thing here, too. An Am Ha'aretz (someone who does not know Torah) does not get a Chelek in Olam Habah. But if someone is a Rasha - say he was purposely Mechalel Shabbos - he does get a share in Olam Habbah, even though he is a Rasha, gets killed by Bais Din and burns in Gehinnom for his crime. Here's how this works:

The reason why learning Torah is greater than doing Mitzvos is not merely a quantitative thing. Learning Torah has a completely different role in conditioning the soul of a Jew than does Mitzvos.

In Olam Habbah, and by this I mean after Moshiach comes, we will get our reward in our physical bodies.

Currently, those bodies are too low and unspiritual to be able to receive the spiritual light which is going to be our reward. If we would try to get our reward now, our bodies would simply get nuked.

The Mitzvos condition our bodies to be able to accept the spiritual reward of Olam Habbah. Each time we use our bodies in a Mitzvah, that changes the nature of our bodies, so that the more Mitzvos we do, the more our bodies become vessels to contain the reward of the next world.

But. But the reward itself, the light that the body will be able to receive, is generated onyl by our Torah learning, NOT our Mitzvos. The Mitzvos condition our body to accept the light generated by the Torah. Both together equals reward.

So if someone does not learn Torah, even if he does all the Mitzvos, he will not get Olam Habbah. Because he will have nothing to get. This is not a punishment; on the contrary, he is theoretically allowed to enjoy the fruits of his labors in the next world. The only problem is, his labors have no fruits.

Without Torah, there is no Olam Habbah. The Gemora therefore says that women, who do not have the merit of Torah (even if they learn, they do not fulfill the Mitzvah of Torah learning since they are exempt from it) merit Olam Habbah by supporting the Torah of their husbands and children.

And therefore, even a Tinok Shenishbah, someone who is totally innocent of any sins because they do not know better, will still not merit Olam Habbah since they have no Torah. Someone who does not have Torah does not get Olam Habbah for the same reason a rock does not get Olam Habbah: They have nothing to get.

It's not the rock's fault that Hashem made him a rock; and it's not the Tinok Shenishba's fault that Hashem made him unenlightened. But that doesn’t mean either one is going to get a share in Olam Habbah.

Note: Even an Am HaAretz will be rewarded, somehow, some way, for the Mitzvos that he does. Perhaps in the Olam Haneshomos after he dies before Moshiach comes, or maybe in this world, c"v, but the grand reward called Olam Habbah can only be obtained by someone who has Torah.

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There was a man, Sir Isaac Wolfson, who was a great Baal Tzedakah, and supported many charities. But he did not give money to support Torah learning. Not because he had anything against it; it just wasn’t his "thing."

One day Sir Wolfson gets a visitor in his office that asked the secretary for 10 minutes of Sir's time. "It's urgent," the visitor said.

The secretary recognized the visitor from pictures she had seen, and ran to tell Wolfson that Rav Aharon Kotler is waiting to speak to him.

Rav Aharon told the man: "You give a lot of Tzedakah, but when you get to the next world, you will be very, very disappointed in what happens, because you did not support Yeshivos and Torah learning."

Issac Wolfson immediately took out his check book and made out a check to Beth Medrash Govoha (Rav Aharon's Yeshiva). He asked Rab Aharon "How much do you want me to give?"

Rav Ahron answered, "No. I will not take even a penny from you for my Yeshiva. If I do, you may think that the purpose of me telling you this was to get you to give a donation to my Yeshiva. The reality is, I only came here for your own good. You are a big philanthropist and I didn’t want you to be disappointed in the next world. So you can support any Yeshiva you want, but I will never, ever take a penny from you for mine."

From that day on, Sir Issac Wolfson became a big supporter of Yeshivos (but not to Lakewood!). Two months later, he passed away.

(I heard this story from Mr. Amos Bunim of Far Rockaway, NY, who knew it first hand.)

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Each bit of suffering that we endure from the Goyim makes our eternal geulah that much sweeter. This is a world of darkness. Things are messed up, right looks wrong, high people look low, etc. The entire religion of Judaism is to see things the way they are, to see through the darkness and get in touch with reality through the light of the Torah.

And the coin with which we purchase eternal happiness when Moshiach comes will be the darkness that we endured in this world.


Please see the "Basic Judaism" forum. Things not appearing the way they really are is what this world is about.

The way to love Judaism is to first understand it. If you're looking at Judaism as nice holidays, quaint customs, and an ancient tradition, then there is no answer to your question. But that's not Judaism. Judaism is being in touch with reality despite what it seems on the outside. And to live that reality, walking hand in hand with Hashem kav'yochol, until the great day when Hashem will show everyone what the world really is like, in reality.

Then we will see who's hated and who's not...

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The idea that someone goes either to heaven or hell exclusively is a Christian idea. The truth is that all of us (with few exceptions, as explained below) go to gehinnom for whatever sins we do, in order to cleanse us of those sins, after which we go to gan eden to enjoy the reward for our good deeds.

There are those who do not get gan eden - ain lahem chelek l'olam habah. A whole list of those - 22 of them in fact - are posted elsewhere on the site. [Note: I couldn't find the list, but I know it is elaborated upon in the Mishnah Torah and Shaarei Teshuvah. -taon EDIT: The list has been put up, but due to ambiguities in translations and understandings, the exact list is unclear.]

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Gehinnom is not the hell that the Christians believe in. "Gehinnom" is what happens to a sinner when he dies. That is, his soul is as yet unfit to attach itself to G-d, and it feels the excruciating pain of not being able to find its fulfillment by connecting to G-d. This pain is the punishment for its sins, and also its purification. Eventually, the soul is purified and can connect to G-d to whatever degree it has earned the ability to do so. (There are exceptions: Some souls are so corrupt that they can never attach to G-d and flounder unattached forever. Still other souls are commanded to return to this world in a reincarnated state to fulfill themselves. The pain a soul experiences in returning to this world is worse that the pain of Gehinnom).

Distance from G-d is called "hell"; connection to G-d is called "heaven".

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You need to focus both on the reward for Mitzvos, and punishment for aveiros.. Yiras HaOnesh is important for Sur Mearah (staying away from bad acts), and reward is necessary for Aseh Tov (doing good acts). A person can rationalize and say "Hey I do lots of good, what’s so bad if now I do a sin?" The answer to that is that it IS bad if you do a sin. It's not enough merely to do good; you have to refrain from the bad. Yiras HaOnesh is a vital deterrent.

But it is true that we must emphasize the greatness of the Jewish soul, not merely the punishment for sin, and that especially ex post facto - regarding sins that you already committed - it is important not to focus too much on them, but rather to go further and focus on the opportunities of today.

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The idea of Ones Lav K'man D;Avid Dami - that exemption cannot give one credit for that which he never did - is from Chazal. The Meshach Chochmah was merely repeating it. It's true that a Tinok Shenishbah cannot receive credit for what he did not do, just as he can not receive punishment for that which he did not know. Techiyas HaMeisim, which is the ultimate reward for out deeds, is not possible without the merit of Torah. Someone who does not have that merit cannot get reward.

What constitutes Tinok Shenishbah is a matter of machlokes. Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach ZT"L once told me that as long as a person knows (1) he is Jewish, (2) he can be religious if he chooses, and (3) the government will not persecute him if he is, already puts him out of the category of Tinok Shenishbah. According to him, the many non-religious Jews are not tinokos shenishbu. Others have different guidelines.

In any case, if Hashem made someone a Tinok Shinishbah in a way that they could never become frum, then that's min hashamayim. Whatever Hashem does is for the best. Some people are made Jews, some Goyim, some not even human but animal, mineral, or vegetable. Whatever Hashem does to and with a person, so long as it is outside of the realm of his Bechirah is always Min Hashamayim. Why Hashem made certain people Jews and others Goyim, and still others rocks or squirrels as opposed to people, or why Hashem made someone a Tinok SHnishbah or not is all part of His master plan.

He doesn't go to gehenom - he can't get punished - but he doesn't go to gan eden, because he didn't do anything for which to be rewarded. It could be that he gets some form of sustenance for his neshoma in the merit of other Jews who do get gan eden (some kabalah sources imply such a thing) but no, he has no chelek in olam habah. As Rav Chaim Brisker said: "nebach a apikores iz oich a apikores."

Everybody has an obligation to be objective and understand that they have an obligation to seek the truth. Dishonesty to yourself is not something you need the Torah to tell you not to do. From that point on, it depends: If they are taught stuff that is too tricky for them to disprove and also is able to provide to a reasonable person, a level of comfort that he indeed has found the truth, then that is a tinok shenishba.

The Karaim, and others like them are in this category. It's not easy for them to know that the Karaite teachings are false, and that there is a Torah out there that is better. But today these non-frum Jews are not taught anything that gives them an excuse. Rav Shlomo Zalman is saying that, if the conditions that he described exist, they have a moral responsibility to seek the truth and find the Torah at the end of the tunnel.

If someone does not believe in G-d then his Mitzvos are not Mitzvos - in order for there to exist a Mitzvah, a commandment, there has to be a Metzveh - a commander. Thus, if someone who doesn’t believe in Hashem does a Mitzvah, it is as if they did the Mitzvah by "accident" (misasek) and it doesn’t count.

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If someone getting sick effects you, then that it is a kappara for you too, but it does not necessarily mean that you helped cause his sickness. But the anguish you have in such a case is not accidental - nothing is, in this world, rather it is purposefully directed at you by Hashem, like all anguish, for whatever reason.

Yes, death only exists in this world because of aveiros. Elsewhere I quoted numerous different explanations in the Meforshim about how this works.

We can undo SOME gezeiros by davening, and not all. On Hoshana Rabbah it is determined which Gezeiros are unbreakable, and which can be broken through Tefilah.

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Hashem did “harden Pharoh's heart” as a punishment for his sins. And the Gemora (Makos 10b), "In the way a person desires to go, he is led (from Heaven)". Also (Yoma 39b), someone who wants to lower himself, gets help to do it.

And I have another Chazal for you. When the Jews came to the Yam Suf the sea did not want to split. "Both the Jews and the Egyptians worshiped idols", it said. So why should we save one and drown the other?

"Yes," said Hashem, "but the Egyptians worshiped idols willingly and the Jews were forced to do so."

Now, if you realize it, it says absolutely NOWHERE that the Egyptians forced the Jews to worship idols. They made them work, but religion was never the issue. So why does the Medrash say that the Jews were "forced" to worship idols?

The answer is that the Jews were tortured and persecuted and killed and beaten. And when someone is in that much pain, we can't judge them. We don't know what we would do if we were in that position. And Hashem judged them then to be not responsible for their idol worship because their lives were just too excruciating to be able to resist temptation.

So listen, Hashem does punish. But maybe you don't deserve such a punishment like you might worry. Or at least, maybe not before you get a chance to show Hashem how you can really serve Him when the mess that you're going through is over. And it can end.

Or maybe - no, not maybe, this is for sure - Hashem only expects you to do the best that you can right now. He knows you and your abilities, but He also knows what you are going through, and he wants only that you be whatever you can be now.

And believe me, when you do one little Mitzvah, when you make one little Brachah, and despite everything you are going through you muster the Ruchniyus, and the strength and the Simcha within you to thank Hashem for a little candy bar by saying shehakol, that it means more to Him than everything in the world.

Hashem is there, in Shamayim, surrounded by His heavenly hosts, His angels, His serafim, millions and millions of them, singing praises to Him. It's the most awesome sight in all of existence. Too awesome for us to comprehend. And it never ends. It continues forever.

But suddenly, Hashem hold His hand up (kavyochel, of course), and shouts "Shaaa! Quiet! My Yid'leh is making a brachah!"

No matter what, you should always know that every little Mitzvah you do mean so so much to Hashem. Much more than the biggest Mitzvos of the biggest people.

And that's because Hashem knows how much that doing that little Mitzvah means to you.

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By attributing a certain tragedy to a corresponding behavior, it does not mean that all other behaviors are proper.

That’s like a person who gets lung cancer and goes to the doctor, who tells him its because he smoked, then he says well I think I should attribute it to ALL the dangerous things I do, like crossing at red lights, and not taking my vitamins.

Understanding which action caused which tzar requires Torah knowledge of how and when to apply midah kneged midah, we well as other statements of the Torah. It is not a random or flippant calculation. It is paskening a shailah with all the seriousness that such a things demands.

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Not only the people guilt of sinas chinam were killed during the churban bayis, and certainly not only they suffered because of it. The tzadikim also lost the Bais Hamikdosh.

The Gemora says that once the Destroyer is let out, he does not distinguish between the guilty and innocent.

If someone starts a fire it is not necessarily so that only the arsonists that will get hurt. It depends on the circumstances. So too if someone r"l causes tragedies to happen, it does not always mean that only he will be hurt. {See the Bechira sections for an explanation}

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