Leaning Towards the Good – A Comforting Thought for Tisha B’Av

Excerpted from the sefer He’aros B’Parsha by the Rosh Kollel, Rabbi Efraim Shachor

In the megillah that we read on Tisha B’Av, the pasuk says (Chapter 3, Verse 38) “The evils that transpire and the good that transpires do not issue forth from the mouth of the One Above.”

This pasuk, in its entirety, obviously requires an explanation.  Perhaps, we should not attribute evils to Hashem, but good?  Isn’t Hashem the Essence of Good?

In addition, the choice of wording is interesting here.  Why are “evils” referred to in the plural, whereas “good” is referred to in the singular?

Rashi addresses the need to explain the pasuk and says that it’s possible to understand it rhetorically.  I.e., is it possible that anything in this world came about on its own without the hand of Hashem?  Of course not!  All evils and all good are ultimately “from His mouth.”

But then Rashi says that, in truth, we can take the pasuk at face value, as well.  Hashem really left it up to us.  We are in the driver’s seat.  Hashem does not make things happen arbitrarily, and any good or (heaven forbid) evil that transpires really is a result of our own actions and does not simply issue forth freely without cause from the mouth of the One Above.

There is an exception, however, and this would explain the choice of wording in the pasuk.

We know that, at times, the Almighty will go “beyond the letter of the law” to do kindness even with those who might not really deserve it according to the strict measure of justice.  We find mentioned in slichos that Hashem “acts with righteousness to all flesh and spirit, and does not pay them back according to their wickedness.”  However, there is no such corresponding behavior when it comes to punishment.  We never find that Hashem will “go beyond the letter of the law” in order to punish.  If people do not deserve to be punished according to an exact reckoning on the scales of justice, then they will not be punished.  Period.  And whenever punishment is meted out, it will be measured exactly.  No one receives “more than they deserve.”

With this in mind we find, then, that any and all evils in the world have not come about freely “from the mouth of the One above,” but only as consequences of the actions of man.  Therefore, the word “evils” is in the plural form to include all evils without exception.  Good, on the other hand, does not always work this way.  True, there is much good in the world which has only come about through the actions of man and, therefore, it is also proper to say that it does not simply “issue forth from the mouth of the One Above.”  But there are exceptions, and, therefore, we do not refer to good in the plural to be all-inclusive, because there is still more good that comes about simply because Hashem wants it for us and goes beyond the letter of the law to give it to us.

Even in the midst of the grief over the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash and all that it has brought about in this long galus, the megillah is reminding us, subtly but firmly, don’t forget, what Hashem really wants for us . . . is that we should have it good.

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