In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 20, 2007 / 8 Tishrei 5768,

Divine vindictiveness?

By Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

A spiritual misconception debunked

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Midrash (Eicha Rabbah 1:48) relates the story of Miriam, the daughter of Baysus Nachtom (the baker), who was taken captive by the Romans and was ransomed by the Jewish community in the Israeli town of Acco.

The Jews who saved her from her captors gave her a garment to wear, since she had nothing of her own. She went to wash the garment in the ocean, but while she was washing it, a strong wave came and snatched it away from her. The Jewish community bought her a replacement, but when she went to wash that garment, a wave carried it away, as well.

The community offered to purchase a third one, but Miriam refused, saying, "Let my creditor [G-d] collect the debt I owe him." The Matanos Kehunah explains her words to mean, "Let G-d collect the debt of my sins from me, and since this is His will — that I should not have a garment — I will not be stubborn against Him, and I will accept His judgment with love." As soon as she accepted upon herself the Divine judgment, the Midrash concludes, G-d signaled to the ocean, and it returned her garments to her.

Despite her tragic situation, Miriam acknowledged the justice of the Divine decree. She searched her spiritual accounts and found herself lacking in merits. As punishment for her sins, she felt that she deserved to be deprived of her garment. The question arises: If she didn't deserve to have the garment, what changed the situation? The Midrash doesn't say she did teshuvah (repentance). Rather that she accepted her fate. What, then, caused G-d to retract the punishment that she had coming to her, and which she agreed was proper?

There is a popular misconception that when G-d decrees a punishment upon a person, it is a form of retribution, a Divine vengeance to "pay back" the sinner for his misdeeds. In reality, G-d has no need to take revenge on a human being. He is merely trying to teach the person to acknowledge and correct flaws. That is why G-d punishes with middah keneged middah — measure for measure — to help a person understand why the punishment is meted out, and to pinpoint the sin he needs to rectify.

It is a message to the sinner to change his ways. Once the person "gets the message" and realizes the reason for his suffering, there is often no more need for the punishment. True, there may be other reasons for suffering; for example, to expiate one's sins in this world and thereby avoid the harsher punishments in the Next. However, the humble acceptance of G-d's will, based on the recognition of one's spiritual shortcomings, can itself be the key to the negation of the punishment.

On the other hand, a person who doesn't tune in to the message may need a higher dose of suffering to shake him up and awaken him to the fact that G-d loves him and therefore is trying to communicate the need for self-improvement. People who have this spiritual block often can be heard complaining, "Why me? What did I do to de- serve this suffering? Life [i.e., G-d] is so cruel to me!" These people, ironically, can be inflicting more pain upon themselves by their stubborn refusal to recognize their faults and misdeeds.

As we stand before G-d in judgment, we examine our deeds and find them wanting. We desperately look for some way to free ourselves from the mire of our sins and eliminate the suffering that they can cause. Of course, repentance is the proper response. Even the very first step, however, can accomplish a great deal, if we can simply humble ourselves to accept G-d's judgment and declare, "I have no claims against You, G-d. I deserve whatever you have decreed upon me, and I want to start the path to repentance and return to You."

This simple, humble statement may be all that is necessary to enable the Heavenly Court to decide that this person got the message — suffering is no longer required.

Like Miriam bas Baysus of our story, we can end our misery and regain all that we have lost, if we accept G-d's merciful decree with love.

May this year be the one in which each one of us as individuals — and our entire nation as a whole — finds the humility to acknowledge our mistakes, accept the Divine justice, and bring an end to the pain and anguish of our people, with the complete redemption and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple speedily in our days.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

at a discount by clicking HERE .

Comment by clicking here.

One of America's senior Torah sages, Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz has been the dean of the Rabbinical Seminary of America, in Queens, New York for more than 50 years. The institution has branches and affiliates all across North America and Israel.

This article was prepared by two of the sage's disciples, Rabbi Aryeh Striks and Rabbi Shimon Zehnwirth, and excerpted from the just released book, "Pinnacle of Creation: Torah insights into human nature".

© 2007, Mesorah Publications, Ltd.