How can you explain a person who does many mitzvos of chesed and then gets a disease and then he dies young?
How can you explain that Moshe Rabbeinu did so many good deeds and then he died?
So you’ll say, “Well everybody has to die.”
And the same applies to everybody.
Nobody is going to live forever. Death is a misfortune and it comes to everybody. The fact that death comes earlier to one person than to another person, there are reasons for that.
I’ll give you an example. Here the Torah says כבד את אביך ואמך – honor your father and your mother, למען יאריכון ימיך – in order that your days should be long. The Torah says openly, “Honor your father and mother in order to live long.” And here is a girl who is fresh to her mother. She is fresh, insolent, impudent; and not only once. She lets her mother serve her. She feels that she is superior to her mother.
Then finally this girl marries, let’s say, a frum young man and she becomes a model mother herself and now she is friendly with her mother and everything seems forgotten. But nothing is forgotten. Hakodosh Boruch Hu doesn’t forget. This girl never made atonement. For being insolent to your mother, you have to make atonement. She didn’t. She’s a good woman now, but it’s still held against her.
And the time will come. In the midst of her success as a frum mother and a frum wife and maybe she’s organizing gemilas chesed too, finally Hakodosh Boruch Hu comes and clobbers her and takes her away in the midst of her life, in the midst of her activity. Because she did not fulfill that condition for long life.
Suppose that girl was in Bais Yaakov and let’s say there happened to be a man teacher, a talmid chacham. It happens; you have talmidei chachamim who teach. And she is insolent; she insults him publicly and she never bothered to ask his forgiveness. And now she is married and frum. But the Gemara says כל המבזה תלמיד חכם אין לו רפואה למכתו – if a person scorns a talmid chacham, he’ll never be healed (Shabbos 119b).
Now what does it mean, he’ll never be healed? If a person does a any sin, he’ll never be healed for nothing. No sin is forgiven for nothing. Every sin needs teshuva. If you sin against any human being, you have to ask forgiveness. So why mention talmid chacham?
The answer is, even if you’ll ask forgiveness of the talmid chacham, there’s no refuah for that makkeh; that’s how terrible of a sin it is. But that girl didn’t even bother to ask forgiveness!
And here’s that girl; now she’s married and she’s successfully living like a frum woman. And all of a sudden in the middle of her young days with her little children, she becomes dangerously ill and she passes away. Nobody knows why.
Now I’m not capable of explaining why it happened to this woman, to that person, this man or that woman; I’m not able to say that. We have to know the entire story; but there are many reasons why people lose their lives.
When people transgress certain things in their youth and they never fully atone then someday suddenly will come k’shoah. There’ll come a sudden misfortune, a black day and it’ll be collected.
And therefore we’re not able to explain what’s the reason why even good people sometimes pass away early. Whatever it is, what we have to know is that everything is done with justice. Nothing is forgotten.
Sometimes a man dies young in order to make a place for somebody better who has to take his place. Like it said when Rabbeinu HaKodesh came to a very old sage, Yehoshua ben Korcha, and he said, “Bless me,” so Yehoshua ben Korcha said, “I bless you that you should live half of my days.”
So Rebbi said, “Only half of your days? Why not more?”
So the old man said, “הבאים אחריך בהמה ירעו – should the ones who come after, your heirs, should they be sheepherders? Your son has to be a nasi too someday. You want to remain very long years in the office of nasi of Yisroel? So what’s going to happen to your son? So therefore you have to step aside. Now, if you were a humble man and you didn’t occupy any big position, we could allow you to hang around a long time in this world. But you’re occupying a big position. Give another man a chance.”
It’s an interesting idea. An interesting idea that when people have great authority, so sometimes Hakodosh Boruch Hu says, “It’s enough.”
There are all kinds of calculations.
Sometimes a man dies early because it’s good for him, he shouldn’t see what’s going to happen. I remember in Slabodka, there was a tzaddik, a young man, a tzaddik. We admired him to no end. Something happened; he passed away young and nobody understood why this tragedy happened. But three years later, all the rest of his chaveirim were slaughtered by the Nazis in a cruel manner and they didn’t have any burial in a cemetery. He at least was buried with honor, with a hesped, with tachrichim and he had a box even. And he was buried in a Jewish cemetery. Now we look back and see it was a chesed for him that he died early.
Nobody can know why Hakodosh Boruch Hu does things, but you have to know everything is done with a reason and with a calculation.
TAPE # 522 (September 1984)