Problems are part of life
and a source of strength if a person uses them properly. The midrash in Yalkut
Malachim comments that a person sees from the black, not the white of his
eye, as though the world is revealed through the darkness. The Hebrew for
darkness is araphel לפרע. The Baal Haturim
notes that the gematria of the word araphel is the same as the word
Shechinah, for that’s where the Shechinah is—concealed in the darkness. That
is why the acceptance of suffering is one of the 48 ways that a person
internalizes the Torah.
Suffering is an intrinsic part of the process that leads to a
deep knowledge and a profound commitment to the Torah. Mitzvos also can involve
suffering. Raising children can be very difficult, and Chazal say that no kesuba
is written without a fight. The suffering we endure makes the mitzvah more
valuable. Indeed, the suffering is a measure of the spiritual benefit a person
gains from them. Because the tribe of Levy did not suffer as the other tribes
did, it did not have the great numbers of the other tribes. It was because of
their suffering that the tribes were so prolific.
But that doesn’t mean that we should make problems for
ourselves. On the contrary, we should do what we can to resolve problems, avoid
them and minimize the pain they cause. When facing difficulties, a person should
try to accommodate himself in a way that minimizes the bitter feelings that
could undermine his faith and the positive attitude that is necessary to deal
with problems in a constructive way.
Problems and effort are similar, and just as there is no such
thing as human existence without problems, there is no such thing as human
prosperity and well-being that is achieved without effort. Things can’t come
easy. So, Chazal tell us, everyone was born to toil. Those whose toil is
directly involved in Torah are the most fortunate. Similarly, there are problems
which we deal with through efforts related to the external circumstances of our
lives, and there are problems which are resolved by a direct effort to improve
our spiritual lives and direct ourselves more completely to the ideals of Torah.
We are told to conduct ourselves in the way that G-d conducts
Himself (v’halacta bdrachav). We should emulate G-d. Accepting a
situation that is less than ideal and accommodating oneself to a difficult
situation is a midah of G-d. There is a Breisa that says that one of the
midos of G-d is that He is happy with His portion. Rav Chaim Mivollozhon found
this Breisa and asked the Vilna Gaon how it is possible for the midrash
to say that. The whole concept would not seem to apply to G-d. G-d doesn’t
have a portion. He has everything. The Vilna Gaon answered that no matter what
the situation of the Jewish People, G-d is happy with us the way we are even
though He would like us to be better. The Jewish People are G-d’s portion. G-d
is always happy with His portion.
We find that G-d accommodates Himself and is happy with the
Jewish People even when they themselves create a situation which is less than
ideal. At the beginning of Parshas Eikev Rashi asks, commenting on the
passage that G-d will destroy the nations in the Land of Israel little by little
because if they are destroyed too quickly, the land will be desolate and be
filled with wild animals: What’s the problem with wild animals? If we do G-d’s
Will we don’t have to be afraid of wild animals. He answers that G-d knew that
we were going to sin and would have good reason to be afraid of wild animals.
Now, G-d’s plan could have called for destroying the nations swiftly. There
would be no problem of wild animals because the Jewish People would do what is
right. But He knew that we wouldn‘t do what’s right, and for that reason
wild animals would be a problem. What should G-d do? Change his plan? He could
say that according to His plan, if we do our part, there will be no problems. If
we don’t do our part and we suffer—well, that’s our doing. That’s our
problem. But G-d doesn’t say that. He accommodates His plan to our inadequacy.
“If you’re not going to do what I want, so that wild animals will pose a
real danger to you, I’ll change the plan, I’ll accommodate Myself to you
even though you disobey Me.” G-d accommodated Himself to us—to the problem
that makes His portion less than ideal. Just as G-d accommodates Himself to
problems, so should we.