Tuesday, May 15, 2012
1. That the period of prophecy ended when the אנשי כנסת הגדולה = "men of the Great Assembly" successfully prayed for the elimination of the יצרא דעבודה זרה =inclination towards idolatry. It was determined On-High that a world in which true prophets still roamed but that lacked a nearly carnal yen for offering animal sacrifices and libations to bronze figurines would be one in which the deck was stacked too much in favor of good. Suspending true prophecy was the way to level the playing field for evil.
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2. There's a classic question of the seeming contradiction between the Torah-Mandated dogma of human free-will and the "hardening" of the Egyptian Pharaohs heart. A famous answer in Rishonim explains that this hardening of the heart did not remove his free choice but had actually restored it. You see,while being battered by plagues no frail human being could really "choose" between obedience to G-d or insubordination in the matter of liberating the slaves . The plagues were coercive. Absent heart-hardening, Pharaoh would never have been tough enough to resist freeing the slaves. So HaShem granted him an extra dose of courage and strength to restore balance to his personal free-choice playing field.
3. The zuhg attributed to the Chazon Ish opining that tremendous spike in various forms of Cancer in the mid twentieth century was due to the advances in antibiotics and vaccines that had just about eliminated crippling and fatal childhood diseases. The fear was mankind would be filled with hubris because of their own self-sufficiency in battling disease and no one would pray, repent or otherwise turn to G-d when in need of healing. So HaShem sent the מכה קודם לרפואה to balance the hubris and self-sufficiency with a little humility and neediness. (Who knows? Now that we have people refusing to vaccinate their kids and terrorists ready, willing and able to use biological WMDs maybe we'll finally discover the cure to Yenna Makhlah)
4. The standard Khizuk Schmooze one hears when they are up against it. To wit; consider your suffering and challenges a Divine compliment. G-d knows exactly whom to test with a difficult nisayon. Others in your place would fall through but you OTOH possess, or were empowered recently, with fresh Kokhos to withstand this new nisayon.
This idea is best exemplified by a vort from the Ri"m on the posuk טז הַנֹּתֵן שֶׁלֶג כַּצָּמֶר; כְּפוֹר, כָּאֵפֶר יְפַזֵּר. = He giveth snow like wool; He scattereth the hoar-frost like ashes.which the Ri"m taitches as follows: If HaShem chooses to give someone the nisayon of freezing (metaphorically speaking) He'll only put him through as much snow as he has wool to insulate himself with, He will only scatter as much frost as the freezing fellow has firewood to burn into ashes and warm himself with.
Now with the possible exception of the Chazon Ish all these cases illustrate that when the powers of good grow too powerful HaShem corrects the imbalance by empowering evil. Yet it would seem that the opposite is equally true; that when the powers of evil grow too powerful a just and fair HaShem corrects the imbalance by empowering good .
If this is correct it begs a question that the upcoming Citifield Asifa puts into sharp relief. Granting for a moment that unfiltered internet access is an unprecedented and nearly irresistible nisayon in both Znus (אחרי עיניכם) and Qefira,(אחרי לבבכם) IOW a tremendous empowerment of Evil / Sitra Akhra et al where are the cosmic checks and balances? Where is the concomitant spike in the forces of Good / Sitra D'Qedusha that will empower us to have a fighting chance to win the battle against the internet?
I'd like to offer several possible and admittedly entirely speculative answers. IOW a bunch of my own boikh sevoras, (but hey after all, that's what blogs are for.)
A. The over half century build up of Torah and Chasidus In EY and the Diaspora has created a World-wide Kharedi Jewry that is more learned, more pious, more passionate, less persecuted, more numerous and more empowered than many preceding generations (according to some...of all time). OTC...it was the forces of good that were getting too powerful just like when the יצרא דעבודה זרה was eliminated. The advent of the internet was the way the Hashgokha Elyona evened the playing field again. Not so easy anymore to behave frum, hang on to your emunah and keep your hasmoda up with the internet calling you... is it?
B. The advances in filtering technology and, by extension, the ongoing exhortations of Rabbonim and the Asifa itself are themselves the counterbalancing measures. HaShem is telling us K'vYakhol "Sure I gave you the heat of the internet but I also gave you K9 and other filters to serve as air-conditioners to cool down with. " Earlier generations fought against the construction of Itzadyons. Ours fills them to capacity. They didn't need Khizuk and pep rallies on this level because they did not confront a test as deadly and powerful as the web...we do.
C. The counterbalancing measure against the internet is not here yet. However, as such, we should be eagerly awaiting a huge new, as yet unimagined, surge in Torah and Yiras Shomayim, maybe even the advent of the Messianic era itself! As great as they are the internet is too huge, too pervasive, too complicated and too powerful for our current leadership to tackle. Only מלך המשיח himself is equal to this challenge.
D. The internet itself is not an unmitigated evil. OTC מדה טובה מרובה as new Torah, Chasidus and Neginah sites pop up like mushrooms. For every Porn site there is L'Havdil a HebrewBooks.org. For every Oifgeklerta Blogger there is a TorahAnytime.com. For every LH gossip and hate filled blog there is the online Eichlers catalog.The web can be used to kill time or to cut bill paying from arduous writing of checks and sealing, stamping and mailing of envelopes to a few clicks to pay online freeing up 30 minutes when you can review the Daf again. This is Briskish in that it does not provide an answer but does away with the question. Our premise was wrong. The internet is not imbalanced to start with.
Of course choices A, C and D make the upcoming asifa partially or completely superfluous. But as these are boikh sevoros I'm hedging my bets. I've got my ticket and plan to attend.
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha"