Shabbos Parashas Behar-Bechukosai – The Maggid on Prayer, Part 8

Sefer HaMiddos, Shaar HaTefillah, Chapter 4 (end)
In Mishnah Berachos 4:4, it is recorded: “R. Yehoshua says, ‘One who is traveling in a dangerous place [when it is time to pray] says a short prayer. He says: “Hashem, save Your people, the remnant of Yisrael – in every time of crisis may You be attentive to their needs. Blessed are You, Hashem, who hears prayer.”’” The Gemara, in Berachos 29a, expounds: “What is a time of crisis (שעת העיבור)? R. Chisda said in the name of R. Ukva, ‘Even You are filled with anger (עברה) at them like a pregnant woman (אשה עוברה), may You be attentive to their needs.’” This teaching fits in well with what we have said about preceding prayer with reflection and repentance, and praying with a humble attitude. Let us elaborate on the meaning of the Gemara’s analogy. Regarding a woman in the process of giving birth, the Sages say (Shabbos 32a): “And why particularly in childbirth [is a woman punished for her sins]? Rava said, ‘When the ox falls down, sharpen the knife [to slaughter it] [i.e., take action at an opportune moment].’” The message behind Rava’s use of this saying is as follows. It often happens that a child misbehaves in front of his father, but his misbehavior is not severe enough to prompt the father to punish him. But later, when the child commits a misdeed that does call for punishment, the father will recall all his past misdeeds and punish him for them as well.  Similarly, when a woman is in childbirth, she comes under judgment – as manifested by labor pains – and at this time she is punished for past sins that did not call for punishment on their own. R. Yehoshua’s short prayer speaks of a time when a grave act of rebelliousness on our part has aroused Hashem’s anger and prompted Him to punish us, and in the process to judge us also for all our other outstanding offenses, in the way that a woman in childbirth is judged. We ask Hashem even then to be attentive to our needs.
Sefer HaMiddos, Shaar HaTefillah, Chapter 4 (end)
Our Sages describe Hashem saying (Pesachim 50a): “Not like this world is the world to come. In this world, My Name is written as Yud-Kei-Vav-Kei, but pronounced Ado-noi. In the world to come, however, it will be written Yud-Kei-Vav-Kei, and pronounced Yud-Kei-Vav‑Kei.” Let us elaborate on this teaching. Hashem employs two modes in supervising the affairs of the world. In one mode, he chastises the righteous and shows them a wrathful countenance, but it is a sign of good for them and a show of great love, as our Sages elsewhere say (Shabbos 30b): “‘Anger is better than geniality’ (Koheles 3:7). The anger that Hashem shows the righteous in this world is better than the geniality He shows the wicked in this world.’” In the other mode, Hashem deals with the righteous graciously, as David HaMelech describes (Tehillim 125:4): “Hashem has shown good to the good and to the upright of heart.” One key difference between these two modes is that the first mode involves a separation of like from like and a joining of like with unlike, while the second mode involves a joining of like with like. Under the first mode, love is accompanied by an outward show of wrath, and hatred by outward beneficence. Under the second mode, love is accompanied by outward beneficence and hatred by outward harshness. The second mode is the ideal mode, as Shlomo HaMelech says (Shir HaShirim 7:7): “How beautiful and pleasant it is, love with delights!” The two modes operate at different times. When the Beis HaMikdash is standing, we experience love with delights. When the Beis HaMikdash is destroyed, and the Divine Presence is left, so to speak, without a home, we, too, experience exile; as the Sages put it (Berachos 58b): “It should suffice for the servant to be in the same state as his master.”
Now, the name we call Hashem is determined by the mode of supervision He exercises toward us. In this world, the righteous suffer afflictions, and although love underlies these afflictions, the love is hidden – it is as Yeshayah says (verse 45:15): “Indeed, you are a God who hides.” What we observe is Hashem acting as if He hates and is incensed with us. We therefore pronounce Hashem’s Name as Ado-noi, which signifies the Attribute of Justice, but we still write it as Yud-Kei-Vav-Kei, for in truth Hashem is acting toward us with compassion and love. But in the end of days, may it come soon, we will experience love with delights, and we will therefore pronounce Hashem’s Name as it is written. In regard to this time, it is written (Yeshayah 40:1-5):
“Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak encouragingly to Yerushalayim and proclaim to her that her term has been completed:  that her iniquity has been expiated – that she has received from Hashem’s hand double for all her sins.” A voice calls out in the wilderness: “Clear a way for Hashem, make a straight path in the desert, a road for our God.” Every valley shall be raised, and every mountain and hill shall be laid low; the uneven places shall be leveled, and the mountainous areas shall be made a plain. And Hashem’s glory shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see that the mouth of Hashem has spoken.
In this final era, Hashem’s love and kindness will be apparent to all.
We can now understand well what our Sages meant when they spoke of the world to come is not being like this world. Hashem’s display of sternness toward us now is the result of the conditions of this world, and is not due to His developing a negative attitude toward us, for He maintains constant love and compassion for us at all times and under all circumstances. It is perhaps this idea that our Sages had in mind when they said (Zohar, Pinchas 130a): “But in the world to come His Name is written with a yud and pronounced with a yud, reflecting love in every respect.”
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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