Rav Avigdor Miller on The Kindly Churban



The Rav quoted tonight from the sefer Tomer Devorah that we learn from Hashem’s middah of מי ק-ל כמוך that He bestows good to people even though they sin against Him. So my question is, if that’s true then why did the Churban come?


Why did the churban come if Hakodosh Boruch Hu continues to bestow blessings even on the sinner?

I’ll give an example.  A man has been overeating and finally he has amassed a surplus of fat. He’s so waterlogged with fat that his intestines are clogged.  Sometimes the fat causes something like that – you know the intestines, the הדרא דכנתא, go around a certain gathering of fat.  And when the fat increases beyond a certain limit, it interferes with the peristaltic action of the intestines.  So sometimes they cut out the fat.  It’s an operation performed today quite frequently.  They operate and cut out the excess fat.

Now suppose you’re a surgeon and you specialize in that and there’s a man you know who has been overeating. So suppose you’ll say to him, “I’m going to continue to feed you pastries and other things that contain a lot of fats because I want to walk in the ways of Hashem who is always bestowing good, even on the sinner.” So we understand that this surgeon is actually killing that man.

And when the surgeon finally has this man on the table and he is about to cut him open, it looks like the opposite of charity and kindliness.  Instead of giving this man chocolate cake, he’s cutting his belly open with a knife.

The answer is, sometimes the greatest kindliness is the knife.

Hakodosh Boruch Hu saw that ארץ חמדה טובה ורחבה, that fat land was too harmful for our forefathers.  They were becoming too arrogant.  כִּֽי תוֹלִיד בָּנִים וּבְנֵי בָנִים וְנֽוֹשַׁנְתֶּם בָּאָרֶץ (Devarim 4:25). They were so long on the land, too long on the land, and they began to forget that the land was given to them as a gift by Hashem. And you had to remind them about it.

It says, שָׁמַנְתָּ – you grew fat,  עָבִיתָ – you became heavy,  כָּשִׂיתָ – you were covered with schmaltz (ibid. 32:15). And now an operation is necessary.

To save our lives, our national lives, Hakodosh Boruch Hu took us out of Eretz Yisroel and he removed the excess fat, and that’s why we’re here today.  Had we been there, who knows what would have happened to us?  And therefore, sometimes it’s necessary to change a person’s regimen and not to continue to shower upon him every kind of nasherei in order to save his life.

You know, everything you learn is like good meat.  You go to the butcher shop and pay a lot of money for a piece of good meat.  But if you won’t add salt to the meat, the meat won’t taste good.  And it needs not salt alone; you have to add salt and onions and some garlic.  If you learn a teaching, any teaching, you have to apply it with some salt.  You need some zaltz to whatever you learn.

If you’ll just take this lesson from the Tomer Devorah and continue to shower on a person good things no matter what – no, it  doesn’t mean that.  It depends on the circumstances.  Sometimes you have to speak up and wave a finger at him and tell him, “לא זו הדרך – That’s not the way to behave.” That’s an operation, waving your finger.

Sometimes a husband has to tell a wife, “That’s not the right way to do.”  Sometimes a wife has to tell a husband too.  Certainly you have to reprove people. Certainly you have to rebuke people. The Tomer Devorah doesn’t mean you blindly continue to smile and to give people everything they want.  It doesn’t mean that. We’re talking about the kavanah; the intent has to be always a charitable, kindly intent.

And even when Hakodosh Boruch Hu was kindly to Yeravam ben Yoash, the gemara says on that, איש חכם נשפט עם איש אויל – it’s like a wise man who was arguing with a fool; ורגז ושחק ואין נחת – first he was angry at him and then he smiled to him but still he didn’t get any satisfaction from him.

It means Hakodosh Boruch Hu tried different methods. He was angry at him first.  That’s why He took away territory from his predecessors.  ורגז – He waved a finger at them so maybe they’ll do teshuva.  But if it didn’t help then ושחק – then He smiled.  He restored the territory. Maybe that will help.

So if let’s say in the olden days a Jew went in the street without his head covered, so a frum Jew would rush out and give him a slap.  That’s how it used to be.  A Jew without a hat?!  It was unthinkable in the old Jewish communities!  Let’s say in Cracow two hundred years ago, if a Jew walked out without a hat, everybody would run out of the house and give him a slap.  That was ורגז because they were on a bigger madreigeh.  In those days, that was the best medicine.  It helped right away.

Today is different; today is ושחק.  I was walking in the street today with a Jew whose head was uncovered. I didn’t slap him for that. Many times I’ve walked with Jews without a hat in the street.  You have to do it today.  You walk with them and you talk to him and maybe someday he’ll put on a hat!

So it always depends on the circumstances.

TAPE # 389 (December 1981)