with Rav Avigdor Miller
Revenge and Justice
Part I. Kosher Revenge
The Grand Finale
In this week’s parsha Moshe Rabeinu receives the tragic news that nobody ever wants to hear: וַיְדַבֵּר הַשֵּׁם אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר … תֵּאָסֵף אֶל עַמֶּיךָ – And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying … “You will soon be gathered into your peoples” (Mattos 31:3). The life of Moshe is now coming to a close and his last days on this earth would be his final opportunity to achieve even more shleimus, more perfection of character and mind, before the end of his great career.
And what is the last great opportunity that we find Hashem presenting Moshe with? נְקֹם נִקְמַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֵת הַמִּדְיָנִים – “Take vengeance for the Bnei Yisroel from the Midianim, אַחַר תֵּאָסֵף אֶל עַמֶּיךָ – and only afterward shall you be gathered into your peoples” (ibid.) Of all the things that Moshe Rabeinu could have done in his last days, witnessing the retribution upon Midian was so eminently necessary that Hashem declared Moshe’s career as still incomplete without it.
Now for us this should be a big question. Seeking vengeance, we already know, is considered an undesirable attribute. The Torah tells us, לֹא תִקֹּם וְלֹא תִטֹּר – Don’t try to get even; don’t even bear a grudge against someone (Vayikra 19:18), and children, from the youngest age, are trained to be repelled by the word nekamah; to see it as a contemptible trait of those who lack self-control.
And yet, here we read that Moshe our teacher was commanded to take revenge against his enemies; and not only to take nekamah, but אַחַר תֵּאָסֵף אֶל עַמֶּיךָ, that it would be his final achievement of perfection in this world. It’s a puzzle! You’ll tell me Midian had to be punished? Ok, let them be punished! But that this should be the grand finale of Moshe Rabeinu’s career? Witnessing the recompense upon the wicked should be the final act of perfection in Moshe’s life?
Daas Is Great
To better understand this we’ll listen to a gemara in Mesichta Brachos (33a). The gemara there is making a point of explaining how great is de’ah. De’ah means achieving a clarity of understanding – to make yourself so clearly convinced of the emunah that you feel Hakodosh Boruch Hu’s Presence tangibly.
And the gemara brings an illustration of how great de’ah is. Gedolah de’ah – De’ah is so great, she’nitnah bein shtei osiyos – that it’s found between two names of Hakodosh Boruch Hu. It says in the possuk, כִּי אֵ-ל דֵּעוֹת הַשֵּׁם – A G-d of knowledge is Hashem. So one side you have aleph lamed, that’s one of Hashem’s names, and the other side you have yud kei vuv kei, another name of Hashem. And in the middle, you have the word de’os.
As was explained once, if you see walking down Thirteenth Avenue three people. Let’s say on one side is the Satmerer Rav, and on the other side is, let’s say, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and in the middle there’s an unknown person. So you understand right away that if he’s in the middle of these two great people, then he must be a somebody. Probably he’s moshiach!
And so, if we see a word positioned between Keil and Hashem, that word signifies something very important. It means like this; if you want to be close to Keil, if you want to be close to Hashem, you know how to do it? Acquire de’ah. Be sure to acquire a tangible feeling of Hakodosh Boruch Hu. That’s why we find the word de’ah surrounded by Hashem’s names – because it brings you close to Hashem.
Revenge Is Great
Now the Gemara goes on and asks like this: If that’s the criteria of greatness, if a word that is sandwiched between two names of Hashem is a hint at how to come close to Hashem, so we’re faced with a problem. Because there’s another possuk that says אֵ-ל נְקָמוֹת הַשֵּׁם. Here, on one side you have Keil, and on the other side you have Hashem, and in the middle you have the word nekamos, revenge. The Gemara is bothered by that – are you going to tell me that gedolah nekamah, that revenge is also a great opportunity for kirvas Elokim? Isn’t revenge a contemptible attribute? How could we day that revenge is like daas, that it leads to the highest levels of awareness of Hashem?
So the gemara says, “Yes! In the right place, revenge is very great.” Gedolah nekamah, says the Gemara. As great as de’ah is in increasing your knowledge of Hashem, so is nekamah, it accomplishes the same thing! By seeing that Hashem is a Keil nekamos, that He’s a Lord of vengeance; that’s one of the most valuable ways for a person to acquire daas. It’s right between the two names of Hashem because revenge is how you get close to Hashem!
The Judge Is Elevated
Now, I know that words like these won’t settle easily on American ears, but you’re hearing now a very important yesod and I’m not going to let go of it. Every day we say the following words – it’s in the long hodu before davening: הִנָּשֵׂא שֹׁפֵט הָאָרֶץ – Be elevated, O’ Judge of the world (Tehillim 94:2). It’s a tefillah – we’re praying that Hakodosh Boruch Hu should be elevated in this world.
Now, Hashem doesn’t need anybody to elevate Him — He’s elevated just well without your prayers. So what’s this tefilla that He should be elevated? What it means is that He should be elevated in the minds of men. That’s what we want – that He should be raised up in our minds.
Now, how does Hashem become elevated in the minds of men? So we think we know how to exalt Him. I know what I would say: הִנָּשֵׂא שֹׁפֵט הָאָרֶץ – How do we elevate You, O’ Judge of the world? שְׂאוּ מָרוֹם עֵינֵיכֶם וּרְאוּ מִי בָרָא אֵלֶּה – By lifting our eyes up high; by looking around and contemplating, ‘Who made all of this!’ (Yeshaya 40:26).
I would say that we exalt Hashem by viewing all of His miracles in nature. You’d have to be a moron not to see the greatness of Hakodosh Boruch Hu in nature. And the evolutionists and the academicians, those who reject the idea of a Creator, are morons! Look around and you see Hashem; and the more you look, the more Hashem is exalted.
Niflaos Haborei Is Not Enough
But no, says Dovid. That’s not the way to uplift the glory of Hashem. That’s important too, but it’s not everything. Now, listen well to his words. הִנָּשֵׂא שֹׁפֵט הָאָרֶץ – How do we see the the ruler of the world raised up in this world? Do you know how? הָשֵׁב גְּמוּל עַל גֵּאִים – Bring back recompense – it means payment – upon the arrogant. When Hakodosh Boruch Hu makes a public display of His anger, of His revenge upon the wicked, it’s intended to exalt His Presence in the eyes of man.
Now, you should study that possuk and tomorrow when you’re saying it, think about it. You want to acquire a tangible feeling of the Presence of Hashem? So take a look “when He brings recompense on the arrogant sinners.” Be sure to witness the Hand of Hashem coming down on the wicked because that makes the emunah enter into your bones.
And that’s because no matter how much you see of Hashem, if you don’t see Him as the Shofeit Ha’aretz, as the Judge who is ruling over His world with perfect justice, then you don’t see Him as clearly as you should. Studying the trees and the dandelions and the apples and all the rest of the niflaos haborei is very good. You’ll see other things there but you need to see the strong hand of Hashem in order to be a real ma’amin. It’s only when a person sees the gemul al gei’im, the recompense upon the wicked – that’s when he achieves true de’ah.
Liberal Judges and Governors
And it’s not just an added degree of daas, a hiddur. No; the principle of vengeance is essential for man’s understanding of Hashem’s control in this world because when the wicked go unpunished, when people see injustice in the world, they are prone to think that the world is a chaotic and accidental place. Subconsciously, the sight of the criminal walking free or of a wicked person succeeding, cements in your mind that this world is a world of injustice, that leis din v’leis dayan.
If an African American hoodlum can stab Yankel Rosenbaum to death for no reason at all, and then be found not guilty because of the color of his skin – and that’s exactly what happened – then men will see this world as one of chaos. No matter how much you say you believe in Hashem, it’s a bitter pill for the neshama to swallow when it sees wickedness prevail.
Every time we read of a crime that is committed and a liberal judge who doesn’t inflict strong penalties, it’s like a dagger in our hearts. We become ruined in our souls; our souls become depressed more and more. When we hear that the wicked governor, yemach shemo v’zichro, the previous one and the present one as well, that they vetoed the death penalty, a cold clammy depression settles upon Mankind. It makes a crack, a very big crack, in the yesod that is the foundation of our lives, the attitude that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is in full control.
Craving Of The Soul
Humanity demands justice! But not merely because we demand deterrents. Certainly it’s a deterrent! Don’t believe the false statistics of the New York Times and the other liberals. They’re all liars! There’s no question that when criminals know that the electric chair is waiting for them, they’re going to think, not twice, they’ll think fifty times, before they do the crime. No question about it, the electric chairs should be working day and night; there are many customers that deserve it.
But more important than the deterrent is that our souls are stifled by the injustice. How can we have emunah that Hashem runs the world when the wicked are running roughshod over everything we believe in? It seems chas v’shalom like there’s no shofeit, no one who is imposing righteousness in the world. And we stand by and feel helpless – we can’t do anything about it. Our souls crave recompense upon the wicked.
We’re Not Sadists
Now if I was, chas v’Shalom, not a Jew, I would be ashamed to say that, because even religious Christians, they wouldn’t dream of such things. Vengeance?! Oh no! Never! And so, while he’s staking a dagger into innocent Jews, he wouldn’t dare think of such wickedness as revenge. He says, “Slap me in the other cheek.”
Now, the Jew doesn’t use any daggers, but he says, Keil nekamos Hashem – Hashem is a G-d of Vengeance! Because wickedness must be avenged! Certainly it must be avenged!
Now, merely to get sadistic pleasure from witnessing the suffering of the wicked is in itself not acceptable to Hakodosh Boruch Hu. But we’re here for a purpose; we want to feel the presence of a Hashem in this world as much as possible and for that we must see that He stands on His word and takes revenge against those who rebel against Him.
He Is Alive!
It’s an important principle you’re hearing now. Some things are wicked in themselves but when they’re utilized for the noble purpose of making progress in life, then not only are they not wicked, not only are they permissible, but they’re absolutely a virtue and a virtue of the greatest magnitude.
And witnessing the revenge of Hashem upon the wicked is one of those things because we must know – we have to feel it in our bones – that He’s reacting to the ma’asim of man. We say every day in davening – more than once – that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is a Keil Chai V’kayam, He’s a living G-d. Now what does that mean, “He’s a living G-d?” That He’s breathing like you and me?! No; alive means He’s a personal G-d; He’s watching, He’s reacting. And He’s rewarding and punishing Mankind. Everything is under the direct control of the Keil Chai V’kayam. There are no accidents!
When you see a rasha getting what’s coming to him, that’s when you feel a rush of excitement. You see with your own eyes that there really is a Keil Chai V’kayam. He’s not just a distant G-d; He’s right here in front of you punishing the wicked. That’s how a man achieves the perfection of daas, of understanding that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is Chai – that He is alive; He’s watching over everything and He’s reacting.
Part II. Seeing Revenge
A Dark World
Now, Olam Hazeh is intentionally made by Hashem to be a place where people can easily be deceived. In Mesichta Bava Metzia (83b) the gemara quotes the possuk, תָּשֶׁת חֹשֶׁךְ וִיהִי לָיְלָה – You made darkness and it is night (Tehillim 104:20), and our sages say it’s talking about Olam Hazeh – Hakodosh Boruch Hu made this world a world of darkness – a place where it’s not always easy to see. It’s not only dark in third world countries; it’s dark in Germany and in Russia and in Manhattan and in Tel-Aviv – Olam Hazeh is dark.
And our function in this world is that despite the darkness, we should exert ourselves to see the truth of His judgments in this world — the display of the Keil Chai V’Kayam, the Keil Nekamos Hashem. That’s the purpose of the darkness, so that we should choose to see the truth.
Keep Your Eyes Open
And that’s why Dovid gives us the following advice. He tells us רַק בְּעֵינֶיךָ תַבִּיט – If you would only be sure to look with your eyes, וְשִׁלֻּמַת רְשָׁעִים תִּרְאֶה – then you’ll see the retribution that comes upon the wicked (Tehillim 91:8). You want Hakodosh Boruch Hu to come down and hold open your eyes and point?! Something you have to do! “I’m showing you things all the time,” says Hashem. רַק בְּעֵינֶיךָ תַבִּיט – “If only you would look with your eyes!”
If you’re looking for the Shofeit Ha’aretz, you’ll see the shilumas reshaim, the payback on the wicked, all around you. And the more you see, the more daas you acquire. That’s why we must study all the stories that we read about the punishments of the reshaim and never forget them. I have clippings at home from the papers; I keep them so that I won’t forget what Hashem did – I have a whole notebook of such anecdotes and I take it out from time to time to read them because I want to see through the darkness and acquire daas. And I like to tell these stories too because people tend to forget them right away.
The Great Fall
I’ll share with you a few examples. I like to tell the story of a man named Mike Todd. That wasn’t his real name. Goldbogen was his name. Avrom Hersh Goldbogen. He was a Jew from Chicago, or someplace like that. And he changed his name. Avrom Hersh became Mike Todd and he went into the movie business; he even married a famous actress, Elizabeth Taylor; a goyah. He was sitting on top of the world; he was filled with money and glory and success. He’s laughing at the whole world.
And now he’s riding in his private airplane and suddenly Mike Todd falls out of his plane! That’s what happened! And as Mike is falling down he could have reminded himself that his name is not Mike at all; it’s Avrom Hersh. “Oy vey, why did I leave my home?! Why did I become a rasha and marry a shiksa?” It took a long time before he hit the sidewalk – he had plenty of time to think! And then he finally met the sidewalk. I can’t describe it to you but he was mopped up with a sponge.
So Mike Todd when he was falling out of his plane he was doing us a big favor. Hakodosh Boruch Hu was doing us a big favor by making a big display; by showing us that He does take revenge in this world – that wicked people don’t escape judgement.
Study The Sensations
Mike Todd could have died on his deathbed from pneumonia let’s say. And it wouldn’t have been any headlines. But that the big movie producer Mike Todd – at that time he was famous — should fall out of an airplane?! It was a sensation! And it didn’t just happen that way by accident. Hashem did it and He did because He wants us to see it and study it.
I do it myself. You know, I make it my business, year after year, to keep the yartzeit of Mike Todd. I tell everybody about the news. Maybe you don’t want to hear about Hashem showing His ways in the world, but I’m not going to forget it. I’m going to look at the shilumas reshaim in this world and grow in da’as Hashem.
With Such Friends…
It’s happening all the time. Here, this liberal who came from out west, a Jew. Finn was his name. F-I-N-N. He was a fighter for the rights of blacks. That was his whole life, fighting for blacks. He was a liberal so he had to show off. He said that the black nation are his best friends. So when he came to Queens for a visit, one of his friends, a black friend, came out from behind the bushes and killed him. So he got his.
You remember when Mr. and Mrs. Wachs were going to a party – a convention they called it – Friday night in Los Angeles. He, a big editor at Playboy and she, the devoted wife of this menuval, were riding in a plane on Friday night. Now, I suppose this party wasn’t kosher. No question there was all kinds of immorality there. It wasn’t a shabbos seudah after all.
So they were traveling in a plane and the engine falls off! And now the plane is turning over and it’s heading for the ground. Now, it’s a michayeh when a plane crashes. It’s a lot of fun! And Mr. and Mrs. Wachs are sitting in the plane and they see it’s going down. “Oooooh! Oh no!” Their hearts are jumping out of their breasts as they’re waiting for the crash to come. “Oh no, Sheldon!” “Oh no, Judith!” And then crash! They were smashed! If we had real Torah newspapers it would be big headlines. Front page headlines: “Hakodosh Boruch Hu throws Mr. and Mrs. Wachs aleihem ha’shnubbel out of an airplane.”
Plane Crashes and Plagues
Those are the headlines we have to study! Of course, the newspapers won’t tell you that. They’ll tell you about the engine falling off, yes. But who made it fall off? Even the frum newspapers aren’t going to tell you that it was Hakodosh Boruch Hu who crashed the plane.
Today, if you look in the newspapers, nothing at all is mentioned about the very great retribution being visited upon the world. A tremendous plague, a makkah min hashamayim! Hakodosh Boruch Hu is making a big display of His revenge on the sinners by bringing upon them an incurable sickness. In New York City alone, eleven thousand deaths have been reported from AIDS. Eleven thousand deaths in New York City alone! And there are many thousands more that weren’t reported; they’re ashamed. At least six hundred thousand are suffering from AIDS in this country. In a few years it will be a million, at least. The hospitals will be crowded with reshaim suffering from the nekamah of Hakodosh Boruch Hu – even today the hospitals are jammed with beds of AIDS patients. The makkas bechoros is going on terribly. There never was an epidemic in America like the A.I.D.S. epidemic. The gays are dying like flies everywhere. Kein yirbu.
Pharaoh In New York
Of course, nothing is said about this. Nobody wants to say the simple truth that it’s a retribution. Just like Pharaoh when the makkos came, so he called the chartumim. “Come, get rid of the makkos,” he told them. “You’re smart men, you can find a cure.” So the government is looking for scientists and hospitals and laboratories to do research and get rid of AIDS. Meanwhile they’re not getting rid of AIDS, but Hakodosh Boruch Hu is getting rid of the mishkav zacharniks.
The reshaim suffer a great deal from AIDS! They lie in the hospitals and they cry, “Why did this happen to me? What do you want from me? Why should this happen?” It’s a big kasha; they don’t know why it’s happening! Why don’t they call me up and ask me? I could tell them right now!
It’s not a kasha at all; that’s how it should be. All the diseases that come upon the people who are promiscuous, that’s how it should be. All those people who drink booze and then they ride on the highway and get squashed, that’s how it should be. The morgues are full of young people who die from narcotics. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Every day you read about wicked men who get killed on the highway or shot down by their competitors or they die of AIDS. All good news is constantly coming in the obituary columns.
Tzaddikim Die Too
Now, I understand that right away you’ll ask me questions, don’t we see that this tzadik died and this adam kasher died – ad kan divrei Yetzer Hara. When an old gadol dies, how long do you expect them to live, to a hundred and fifty years? They have to die someday; it’s part of nature that people get old and pass away.
Sabit means you have to look, to see past the darkness. In fact, I am convinced of the fact that the reshaim suffer in this world much more than the tzadikim do. You know the newspapers are full of lies; they don’t want to tell the truth – they refuse to tell the whole truth. And still they cannot conceal what is happening to the reshaim. Now you shouldn’t buy the New York Times, but sometimes you pass by a garbage can and pick it out of the garbage can, take a look at the obituary page. It’s the only page in that paper that is worth anything! Every day, this one died at forty; a famous actress in the gay task force. This one died at thirty eight. This one died at twenty five. This one died at fifty. Every day they’re dying like flies. New York Times is doing a great service to the world. It’s letting us know the good news, the besuros tovos.
Now, we have to think about this. Because how many roshei yeshivos have been cut down by bullets in Queens? Tzadikim don’t die of AIDS, you know. When was the last time you heard of a rosh yeshiva who fell out of an airplane? It doesn’t happen. They should all live l’orech yomim tovim
Look At The End
But sooner or later, the wicked get what’s coming their way. And that’s what Dovid Hamelech points out to us. Listen to his words (Tehillim 73:12). He’s talking about when he sees reshaim who seem to be successful. הִנֵּה אֵלֶּה רְשָׁעִים וְשַׁלְוֵי עוֹלָם הִשְׂגּוּ חָיִל – “Look at these reshaim,” Dovid says.” They seem to be forever in tranquility and they’ve acquired strength and wealth.” So I might think,” says Dovid, אַךְ רִיק זִכִּיתִי לְבָבִי – “Maybe I have purified my heart for nothing.” What’s it all worth? If I see that the reshaim are succeeding, then I feel like all my avodah was a waste. The success of the reshaim is a dagger in the heart of the ma’amin.
So Dovid continues: עַד אָבוֹא אֶל מִקְדְּשֵׁי אֵ-ל – Until I come to the sanctuaries of Hashem. When I came to the mikdash of Hashem where the kohanim are teaching the truth of the Torah, they told me, אָבִינָה לְאַחֲרִיתָם – “Take your time. Don’t rush to conclusions. Let us think into the end of these reshaim.” Right now they seem successful, but אָבִינָה לְאַחֲרִיתָם, let us ponder about what will be.
Here’s Abbie Hoffman, a waste of a Jewish soul. He was raising the sky with his tumult, demonstrating against all the imaginary ills of society. And he was getting a lot of publicity too; he was all over TV and he was getting millions of dollars of publicity for his causes. He was demonstrating everywhere and he was on top of the world! Ahh! That’s a successful rasha!
But years later, the newspapers reported that at the age of fifty two he commited suicide. It took some time; I was thinking about him often – what’s going to be with him? Maybe he’ll do teshuvah; could be. Finally Hakodosh Boruch Hu didn’t wait any longer. Ahh! אָבִינָה לְאַחֲרִיתָם. We had to bide our time. Abbie Hoffman, a poor fellow, alone and depressed, killed himself in Chicago. It was probably the first mitzvah he did in his life! וּבִעַרְתָּ הָרָע מִקִּרְבֶּךָ – And you should remove the wickedness from your midst (Devarim 17:7). That was the end of his שַׁלְוֵי עוֹלָם הִשְׂגּוּ חָיִל.
Here’s a man, a big activist for the gays. He was leading the marches and laughing at the Orthodox. And now I read in the paper that he died – at the young age of forty-two. Another one, his partner, at age forty-one; he’s gone too.
So if you open your eyes, you’ll see on all sides that you have to be patient. While they’re marching, waving banners, winning in the courts, proud of who they are, we just bide the time. So what if they’re sitting on top of the world now?! אָבִינָה לְאַחֲרִיתָם – We’ll see what’s going to be the end of them.
Part III. Unseen Revenge
The End Is Just The Beginning
Now, we can’t end our discussion with just the puranusom shel reshaim in this world. By no means is that the whole story. Oh no! This world is only a mashal. When we say that the wicked people get their recompense, it’s important to make very clear that the nikmas Hashem that we see in this world is only a mashal of what he’s going to get over there.
The mishkav zacharniks who are suffering with AIDS have to know that it’s only the beginning – the real fun is yet to come. The other side of the grave is worse than AIDS. It won’t stop with death. It will continue forever and ever. Every time he commits that terrible sin he has fifteen or twenty misas beis din – each time it’s fifteen or twenty misas beis din that he committed. And if he lived a long time there’s no end to the trouble he brought on himself. Gehenom kalah v’heim einam kalim. They’ll be punished forever and ever.
Think About Gehenom
They’re suffering terribly over there right now. Only why doesn’t the Torah tell us openly what’s doing in Gehenom? Because the Torah wants to conceal it from us. If the Torah would describe for us too much what Gehenom looks like, it would be frightful – we’d become tzadikim; we’d have no choice. So the Torah doesn’t speak openly about Gehenom in order that we should have a nisayon. So a Jew says, “Look, the Torah doesn’t speak about Gehenom so I don’t have to think about Gehenom.” You won’t think about Gehenom, so you’re not afraid, and you’re willing to do sins.
But we must think about Gehenom all the time because that’s an important part of the daas we’re expected to achieve in this world; the daas of hinasei Shofeit Ha’aretz, of exalting the Judge of the world in our own eyes – and without Gehenom there’s never true justice.
The End of The Nazis
Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants us to always remember that there’s another world where all accounts will be settled – for good and for bad. You remember when the Supreme Court in Israel set free Ivan Demjanjuk, yemach sh’mo – it was an avlah, a terrible injustice. That’s what the Supreme Court does in Medinas Yisroel – it promotes wickedness. Here’s a man, a Ukrainian rasha, who participated in the sadistic slaughter of thousands of the Am Yisroel – not thousands; tens of thousands! And so, when we hear that such a person is a free man, walking the streets as if nothing ever happened, it’s a terrible blow to our neshamos.
Someone called me on the phone. He said, “Where’s the yashrus?”. You know, it’s the same question with Hitler yemach sh’mo. A rasha merusha if there ever was one. In the history of the world there was no bigger rotzei’ach than him. And he got away with it in this world. What did he do at the end? He saw that when his plans began to fall apart and he was going to lose the war, so he took a perfumed flavored poison and he painlessly left the world. He left on his own terms. He took a perfumed poison and left this world b’shalom.
That’s not the way Hitler should be leaving this world. I have other ideas on how to send him off. And if I do, then Hakodosh Boruch Hu has much better ideas than me. So what does it mean when Hitler and Demjanjuk and other reshaim too don’t get their just desserts? Is that justice?! Is that yashrus? And so our neshamos are confused and depressed. Leis din v’leis dayan – There’s no judge and there’s no justice being meted out.
A Reminder Of The Next World
The answer is that the true settling of accounts waits for the Next World. The reshaim would be lucky if this world was the end for them. And that’s what Hakodosh Boruch Hu is showing us when reshaim walk around in peace in this world. Look; do you think that there could have been any true nekamah for these reshaim in this world, anyhow? Whatever the Supreme Court would have done to Demjanjuk, or whatever we would have done to Hitler; if they had hung him, if they had put him in the electric chair, even if they would have cut him up into little pieces, what would it mean anyway?! Is that a nekamah for a man who spilled so much Jewish blood?! It’s nothing at all!
Reshaim living in this world, or even leaving this world painlessly, is a reminder for us that it’s the beginning of a very big career in the Next World for them. The ”fun” for Hitler and Demjanjuk begins over there. And so, Hakodosh Boruch Hu lets the reshaim get away with it, in order that we should know there’s a Next World!
Hashem says to us: “I’m going to let this rasha go free” – it was Hashem after all – “I’m going to set him free in order that you should train yourself to think about the real nekamah, the nekamah gedolah of Gehenim.” אָבִינָה לְאַחֲרִיתָם – You have to understand the end, the real end, of the reshaim. He’s not a free man at all.
Gehenom Is Real
And therefore, when we see a rasha like Hitler go out of this world painlessly, or a murderer like Demjanjuk be acquitted and go back to his normal life in Cleveland, we are reminded that there is waiting for them another world. Hakodosh Boruch Hu is reminding us that He’s waiting for these fellows in the Next World. They’ll get there, and they’ll get what’s coming to them!
It is of utmost importance to know that there’s a Gehenim. And not in the superficial way of most people. To actually feel in your bones that the reshaim are suffering in Gehenim right now. And in Gehenim, that’s where nobody gets away with anything! There’s no Israeli Supreme Court in Gehenim to acquit the reshaim. They’re in Gehenom too, but nobody is asking them their opinion anymore.
In the World To Come the reshaim will all get what’s coming to them. Of course, included in that is that we’re going to get all the reward that’s coming to us. No question; in the Next World all the cheshbonos are calculated exactly; all accounts are settled – it shouldn’t be the slightest doubt in your mind. That’s a yesod hayesodos.
An Unfamiliar Face
And included in that is Kol ha’omer Hakadosh Baruch Hu vatran – Anybody who says that Hashem is forgiving, he’s playing with his life (Bava Kamma 50a). Hashem doesn’t forgive. Of course, if you’re still alive and you do teshuva and you ask Him forgiveness that’s something else. But otherwise there’s no forgiving! When a man dies with sins it’s going to be very bad for him.
And Hakodosh Boruch Hu will then face him in a way that the person never imagined – a face that he didn’t recognize in this world. Rav Yisroel Salanter says that Hakodosh Boruch Hu has two faces – one face is in this world and one face in the next world. In this world His face is the face of chesed; He’s forgiving and kindly – He’s maarich af; it means He gives you a chance again and again.
But once a person dies, it’s all over. In the Next World Hashem shows the stern face of a judge. He doesn’t forgive – it’s too late for that. And reshaim will get it. They’re getting it right now. They’re in Gehenim and they’re being tortured constantly.
We Can Hear The Screams
The Gemara in Gittin (57a) describes how Titus was brought up by a ba’alas ov, a necromancer, and the neshama of Titus was describing what he has to undergo in the next world every day. Oy, it was terrible. He’s being burned to death every day. You know being burned to death is not a compote – it’s not a very delightful experience. Every time he’s reduced to ashes — it’s terrible. If you ever read about a victim who was burned alive at the stake, it’s the most terrible death to be burnt to death. He’s being burnt over and over again. And the Gemara says that Hakodosh Boruch Hu gives the reshaim koach to suffer. They’re given a tremendous ability to endure the suffering.
You have to imagine in your mind what Hitler is undergoing right now in Gehenim. He killed millions – millions of the Am Hashem. And so he’s in Gehenim right now and he’s putting on a performance every day. Every day they revive him; they make him alive again with his flesh and his nerves. And every day they scrape the skin off him and they hang him up and they cut off pieces and pieces of him. And he screams and screams. He screams all the time! Hitler is being given all that he did to his victims, again and again.
And he’s not the only one. It’s very crowded there. Very crowded! And very hot. All the reshaim are in Gehenim right now! Pay attention. You hear that noise?! They’re getting it in Gehenim. There is a terrible outcry in Gehenim right now.
The Secret Pleasure
And the fact that they are being terribly punished for what they did, that’s a great happiness for us – even now, in this world, the maaminim are fortified knowing what’s doing in the next world. And when we come to the Next World – we’re not in a rush – we’ll be able to witness the culmination of shilumas reshaim, when we are finally able to see the revenge, we’ll look on with happiness!
The tzadikim right noware watching the justice being served. There’s a big audience watching what’s doing in Gehenom. The tzadikim are sitting and laughing their sides off. They’re enjoying it to no end. יִשְׂמַח צַדִּיק כִּי חָזָה נָקָם – The tzadik rejoices when he sees revenge, פְּעָמָיו יִרְחַץ בְּדַם הָרָשָׁע – he washes his feet in the blood of the rasha.
One of the secret pleasures of Gan Eden is watching the suffering of these reshaim. The tzadikim are given front row seats in Gan Eden and they’re enjoying the sights. That’s part of the reward in the next world, the tzaddikim are rewarded. Not only do the tzaddikim in the next world enjoy the happiness of the great and everlasting banquet of Olam Habah, but they enjoy also the sight of those who are present and there’s nothing on the table in front of them. it’s going to be an enjoyment without end! The tzadikim are sitting and looking at Hitler and at Titus and at Haman as they’re being broiled and baked over and over again. They’re crying out and tzadikim are shepping nachas without end. They have better things to do there too, but this is part of it.
A Great Consolation
Now, I know that for you Americans this sounds harsh but this is Dovid Hamelech speaking! And he goes on and tells us why this sight brings rejoicing: וְיֹאמַר אָדָם אַךְ פְּרִי לַצַּדִּיק – And then men will say: ‘Truly, there is reward for the righteous,’ אַךְ יֵשׁ אֱלֹקִים שֹׁפְטִים בָּאָרֶץ – ‘Truly, there is a G-d that judges the world’ (Tehillim 58: 11-12). Because now, they see that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is righteous! Everything makes sense and all accounts are being settled.
The simchas hatzaddikim cannot be complete until they see that Hashem is the Shofet Emes; that all accounts are settled. And that’s going to be in Gan Eden and in Gehenom. It’s not merely a sadistic joy, the immature and materialistic nekamah of the fools. But it will be a great consolation, that nekamah, because it will be the ultimate vision of seeing Hashem in full control, the true Shofeit Ha’aretz.
The Work and the Reward
Now, Olam Haboh is only a place of reward – all of the happiness of seeing the Shofeit Ha’aretz in perfect judgement in the next world is only a reward for the work we put into seeing the Shofeit Ha’aretz in this world. And that means that the more one sees while he’s still alive – the more de’ah he achieves in this world – the more he’ll see in the next world forever and ever.
And that’s why Moshe Rabeinu couldn’t leave this world without seeing the punishment upon the Midianim with his own eyes. The man who strived for perfection all his life, the man who wanted to see Hashem most in this world, deserved a last opportunity for even more perfection.
“Take vengeance for the Bnei Yisroel from the Midianim, and only afterward shall you be gathered into your peoples” – teaches that one of the greatest perfections in daas Hashem is seeing the Keil Nekamos Hashem. And it is the awareness of the Keil Nekamos Hashem thatwe achieve in this world that will equip us to enjoy the splendor of the Hinasei Shofeit Ha’aretz, the most exalted and perfect Judge,in the World to Come forever and ever.
Have A Wonderful Shabbos