No evil comes down from above

Thursday, 26 August, 2021 - 6:45 pm

 “Please come home,” I said to him. He refused. It was the day before Purim. Ten-year-old Natan was already in the Chabad House, wearing an original costume and armed with the Purim spirit. Soon we would start reading the megillah.

His older sister had surprised us by telling us that she had arrived from Israel, hitherto unannounced, and was already on the way home from the airport. In order to maximize the surprise, the children were supposed to be in the house until she came. 

And so, first I asked nicely that he come up to the house. He refused, because he didn’t understand why he had to leave the fun of Purim and come home instead. Then I demanded sternly from him that he come home: “Come up now!” He was angry and complained, stamped his feet and shouted, “But why???” “I can’t tell you why; just do what I say,” I replied. He came home half a minute before the surprise, and the minute his sister walked in the door he jumped on her happily, roaring his astonishment. And then, he came to me quietly and said, “Thank you, Abba, for forcing me to come up; thank you for refusing to tell me why, and I apologize for being angry and for complaining.” 

This true story is my mashal – parable – for the hidden good that we experience occasionally in life. 

“No evil comes down from above,” so says Ba’al Hatanya in the famous Iggeret Hakodesh, named “To Teach You Understanding.” But if there is no evil, so what are those things that we see as evil? In parashat Ki Tavo there are 98 harsh rebukes voiced as terrible curses that will come to pass if the Jewish People will not observe the mitzvot. What are those curses, if “no evil comes down from above”? 

There is revealed good, and there is hidden good. We do not need to explain the revealed good – it is clear, it can be seen. The hidden good is an experience that we see as being bad, when really it is something good that we are unable to understand, because it has to be covered. Just like Natan saw my request that he come upstairs as an annoying punishment, and yet my request was hiding from him a higher good – an exciting surprise. 

Sometimes during our short lives we merit to see and understand the good that was hidden, and sometimes not. Sometimes only a generation or two later can one see the good that was hidden. 

So when you read the curses on Shabbat, or even if, G-d forbid, you experience something that seems bad to you, remember that “No evil comes down from above.”

Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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