If everything is for somebody’s benefit, how can you explain the fact that someone wanted an opportunity for spiritual progress but was prevented because of circumstances beyond his control? Somebody wanted, let’s say, to become a yeshivah man or a talmid chacham but certain circumstances didn’t let him. If everything is min hashomayim, how do you explain that?
That’s how I explain it, that it’s min hashomayim.
Sometimes it’s harmful for a man to become a lamdan. Sometimes it’s not good for a man to become a Torah scholar; it’s one of the worst things for him.
I’ll give you an example. Torah is compared to water. Everybody knows that mashal. Now, water makes things grow. And if you take water and you walk into your backyard and you’ll water everything there, it could be you’re watering some thorns and weeds. Sometimes poisonous plants too. Water is not going to produce roses and peaches for you. Water will only make grow what’s already planted there.
So it depends what’s in you. If you have thorns, if you have a mean nature, you’re arrogant, you have bad character, so if you’ll water it with Torah and you’ll become a lamdan who is a menace, a lamdan who is mechallel shem shamayim. You’ll become a Torah scholar whose behavior besmirches the name of the Torah. So Hakodosh Boruch Hu sees that he is not deserving and He makes him stop learning. He causes things to happen to prevent him from learning.
Certainly it’s min hashomayim. Like it says, יהב חכמה לחכימין – He gives wisdom to the wise. Hashem gives Torah to those who will treat it properly. And the Gemara gives an example: When a man walks in מבואות המטונפים, in unclean alleys – sometimes there used to be refuse in unclean alleys – so when he walks in those alleys he refuses to talk divrei Torah because it’s not respectful to the Torah. So Hakodosh Boruch Hu says, “That man knows how to honor My Torah! I’m going to give him more Torah.”
But suppose, here’s a man who sits on a bus and right near him is sitting a young lady with uncovered thighs; wearing shorts in the summertime. I was once in such a situation. A man was sitting next to me and in front of us was sitting a young woman with naked thighs; completely naked thighs. And he was talking divrei Torah to me and I didn’t answer. He said, “What’s the matter?” he said, “Aren’t you listening?” That’s what he said to me. He was an elderly man; I didn’t want to insult him. But I didn’t speak. Such a person doesn’t deserve to have Torah because he’s taking the Torah and talking דברי תורה כנגד הערוה. He’s disrespecting the Torah by speaking words of Torah in front of nakedness.
So therefore don’t always bemoan the fact that a person didn’t have the opportunity to learn. Sometimes it’s a blessing for him. In order to be zocheh to Torah, it’s necessary to make yourself an אכסניה של תורה; you must have a certain amount of personality that’s suitable for Torah.
Of course, you also have to beware of complaining in vain. It could be it’s only an excuse. It could be you do have opportunities. And if you would utilize the opportunities that you do have then Hakodosh Boruch Hu will give you more. But if you neglect the opportunities you have, you’ll lose even those opportunities. כל המקבל עליו עול תורה מעבירין ממנו עול מלכות ועול דרך ארץ – If a person takes upon himself the yoke of Torah learning then min hashamayim they take away from him other obligations and they give him an opportunity for learning. But כל הפורק ממנו עול תורה – if he throws off the yoke of Torah, then Hashem takes away opportunities from him. It’s a punishment.
It means he has opportunities. Everyone has opportunities. He has Friday nights. He has Shabbos morning before davening, Shabbos all day long. He has Saturday night. Some people have Sunday all day long. You have legal holidays. You have vacation two weeks. If people would utilize those opportunities, you’d be surprised what would happen as a result. Hakodosh Boruch Hu will give them more time and more time.
But if a person is complaining, “Alas, that I have to go into parnasah, I can’t sit and learn all day long,” when really he has all day Sunday, when really he has all evening motzei Shabbos – in the wintertime it’s four hours. You have Shabbos afternoon four hours in the summertime. He doesn’t use it. So what does he expect? So he’s going to lose that too. Eventually even that time he won’t have.
TAPE # 263 (April 1979)