There are two qualities
that are basic to coping with the problems that arise in life: Patience and the
ability to endure suffering, to tolerate a difficult situation. Patience is the
inner readiness to endure what is at hand until it changes. It implies the hope
and perhaps even the conviction that, in the end, everything will be all right.
The ability to endure suffering differs from patience in one basic way: It is
the ability to accept a painful situation not because you hope it will change,
but because you believe that it, itself, in some way that is hidden from you, is
good. Sure, it seems bad but, in truth, it is good. This attitude represents a
much higher spiritual level. It is very difficult to achieve, and beyond what
most people can do. That was the greatness of Nachum Ish Gamzu: His affirmation
that this, too—whatever the pain—is good, was a great spiritual
A person can say that something is bitter, but he should
never say that something is bad. Something can be good and still be bitter, like
medicines. And that’s how we should view our troubles: As medicines, and no
one is surprised to find that his medicine tastes bitter. But for all their
bitterness, a person who is sick is grateful to have his medicines.
The Gemora says in Pesachim that the next world is not
like this world. In this world we say the blessing hatov uv’mativ on
good things and on bitter things we say Dayan HaEmes. In the next world
everything is hatov uv’mativ. In this world we read G-d’s name one
way and it’s written another way. It’s written YKVK and it’s read
A-d-o-n-a-i. In the next world, it is written and read the same way. The idea is
that in the world to come, when we look back and survey the whole picture, when
we look back on our lives from the exalted perspective of the Truth that is
revealed in the next world, we realize that everything we thought was bad was
really good. Rather than say the blessing of Dayan HaEmes, we should have
made the blessing of hatov uv’mativ. But since we live in a world where
it is hard for us to see the truth, we say a blessing which affirms that G-d is
the judge of the truth, for that is the literal translation of the blessing: Blessed
is the Judge of the truth. He knows the truth and He knows the best way to
do what is true. In this world, we don’t see the truth because we don’t see
the whole picture.
Reb Elchonan gave a moshal: Imagine a person who had
no idea of what farmers do watching a farmer planting seeds. He’d think the
farmer was crazy, throwing away good seeds, seeds like wheat grains or barley,
that could be eaten, dropping them on the ground. It would only be later, months
later, when he saw the wheat stalks and realized that now there are hundreds of
seeds for every seed that was planted—it would only be then, when he saw the
whole picture, that he would realize that what he thought was bad was really
good. And what would he think when he saw the wheat grains being ground into a
powder for flour? Could he possibly realize, until he’d seen for himself, that
in the end it would becomes a wholesome, tasty, life-sustaining loaf of bread?
It’s only then that he would realize the benefit of grinding the grains into
flour. It’s only then that he would see the good in something he thought was
foolish. When we see only part of the picture we do not see the truth, and when
we do not see the truth, we cannot recognize the good.
The Gemora says that a person should say the blessing Dayan
HaEmes with the same joy he has when he recites the blessing hatov uv’mativ.
Now, we can’t interpret that according to its plain meaning. I’ve never seen
anybody dance and sing for joy at a funeral and say Dayan haEmes with
happiness. People cry when they say Dayan haEmes. But inwardly, deep in
their souls, they can feel a joy. In everything that pertains to the external
world we are bound by time. But the soul transcends time. So the soul knows that
somehow it’s all going to work out to be good. The soul, because it transcends
time, is closer to the total picture. We, centered in the limitations of our
mortal lives, lose site of that total picture. So, we say dayan haemes crying.
But the soul knows better. And the knowledge that the soul has is a source of