How do we explain צדיק ורע לו and רשע וטוב לו, the phenomenon of a tzadik who suffers and a wicked person who prospers?
Now, I have spoken on this subject many times, but once more.
When we say tzaddik v’ra lo, first of all, if you want to make a question out of it, you have to be certain that he’s a tzaddik. You know about someone’s private life? Many times he’s not a tzaddik at all.
Secondly, who said it’s ra lo? The fact that he’s not a millionaire? He may be happier than people with wealth; maybe it’s tov lo. Actually the one you’re asking about, that you say it’s tzaddik v’ra lo, maybe it’s rasha v’tov lo. You think it’s ra lo? He’s a happy man. The truth is, the real question is the opposite: maybe he’s a rasha v’tov lo; he doesn’t deserve to be happy because he’s a rasha. That’s the kasha!
And rasha v’tov lo; who said it’s tov lo? Who says the rasha is having good times? I would suggest like I always tell you; when you pass a garbage can on the street and you see an old New York Times – you shouldn’t buy it but you can take it out from the garbage can and read the obituary page and you’ll see people are dying all over the place. Reshaim are dying like nobody’s business. So it’s not rasha v’tov lo. The cemeteries are full of young men who were smashed to death in their cars by drunken driving and by narcotics. They’re killing themselves by a wicked stupid form of life. So rasha v’tov lo is a rarity.
Sometimes it’s a tinok shenishba and maybe he has good middos. He’s not a rasha; he doesn’t know. So it’s not a question if it’s tov lo. But if that person is really a rasha, it’s a rarity that it’s tov lo.
Now sometimes Hakadosh Baruch Hu makes it happen that way, once in a rare while, in order to make tests. The world is full of tests and that’s one of them. Because if all the reshaim dropped dead immediately then everybody would become a tzaddik. So Hakadosh Baruch Hu makes tests to deceive people.
And therefore we should understand that despite whatever we see, Hakadosh Baruch Hu pays reward to the righteous and eventually He’ll give the rasha what’s coming to him. נותן לרשע רע כרשעתו.
But even in this world in most cases the frumme are the ones that live more happily, no question about it. The frier are divorcing all over the map. They don’t have children or their children are bums. In India there’s a great population of Jewish boys and girls. What are they doing there? They’re smoking marijuana. They’re learning Far Eastern religions. There’s a big population in India of Jewish boys and girls. That’s a terrible end for them, and they’ll perish long before their time.
So in general reshaim don’t have tov lo in this world. Don’t deceive yourself. Only that sometimes, like I said, it could be that it will happen; it might happen as a test. It’s only a wile, a trick of the yetzer hara to make people think so.
But we see that all the wicked nations have disappeared one after the other. The nations have gone down into the dust. There’s no question about that. And we see that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is following the system of cleansing the world, sanitizing the atmosphere by destroying the wicked nations one after the other.
TAPE # E-129 (February 12, 1998)