Question:

Hi Rabbi,
For quite a long time I’ve felt quite unsatisfied with the course of my life (I am a teenager by the way), often I feel socially isolated and angry with Hashem about other circumstances in my life even if in the long run I’m not even sure if the solutions I seek would be best for me. However, regardless, I get quite angry at Hashem because I feel like he doesn’t hear me and isn’t fixing some of the dilemmas in my life as I would want him to. Especially, since I live in a very small Jewish community and keeping Shabbos can be quite lonely and I feel like by doing that I’m giving myself to Hashem despite the difficulties and he still doesn’t seem interested in helping me. Over the Yamim Noraim, I read in the Machzor that Tzedakah, Tefilla, and Teshuva מעבירים את רוע הגזרה. Would this be considered a רוע הגזרה or is that only regarding things like illness and death etc.? Are there other things I could do to possibly beseech Hashem (saying a perek of Tehillim every day, etc.)? What is meant by Tefilla, does that mean making sure to daven the regular services, specific prayer about the issue at hand, etc? Also, would Hashem be as mad with me and I caved and stopped doing mitzvot even though he’s placed me in a difficult situation?
Thank you so much

Answer:

 

Thank you for your question, My apologies that it took some time to get back to you.

Before getting to the issues that you are bringing up, let me just express my admiration for your honesty, and your resilience to keeping the mitzvos even though you are having difficulties. Being a teenager is not easy, and there are numerous social, scholastic, and family issues that teenagers can have, and numerous challenges to deal with. Our sages teach us that often Hashem will put us in a situation that is difficult, and we are uncomfortable, and we really want the situation to change, but Hashem doesn’t change it, because Hashem in His infinite wisdom knows that this is specifically what we need at this time. For example, in college the courses can be intense and difficult. Hundreds of hours are devoted to studying, and there is pressure from the assignments and tests. If we would plead to the professor to exempt us from taking the midterm and final, and make the workload less, he is going to refuse our request because we are in college to accomplish a certain goal. Yes, it is hard now, but it won’t last forever, and at the end you’ll have your degree, and you be able to live a much more comfortable and productive life. Hashem also does this to us in real life. He will send us challenges, and difficulties, and at the time, we will ask him to take them away, because it is hard. Sometimes the answer will be, I am not ignoring you, but knowing your past, and knowing your future, and this difficulty will train you and give you the tools to succeed later on in life. For example, sometimes a person has a roommate, family member or boss who is hard to get along with, and it will be a real challenge. The person is inconsiderate, insulting, and you really have to work hard to get along with them. We won’t realize it at the time, but the experience often will teach the person, how to successfully interact with others even under stress, and this training will serve him very well for his future marriage and when bringing up his children. We are taught that whatever Hashem does to us, that it is for our ultimate good and to our benefit. Therefore, yes sometimes we will ask Hashem to help us, and He will answer us that eventually the difficulty will be removed, but for now this is what we need.

The fact that you are keeping Shabbos although it is difficult for you is a tremendous merit, for yourself and you will be duly rewarded for every crumb of difficulty that you experience. Most of the time Hashem does not give us the reward for our mitzvos with the trivial things in this world, but He waits to reward us in a way that we will benefit from the reward in the greatest way possible. There is a story that the Chofetz Chaim used to say, about this poor orphan boy that lived in Europe. His father died, and there wasn’t really any money in the house, however his father did leave him two very nice sized diamonds. The little boy once walked into the grocery store and he saw these giant gumballs on the counter, which cost 50 cents each, but he didn’t have the 50 cents to pay for them. Then he had a brainstorm, he went home, and took out the diamond, brought it to the storekeeper, and told him that he wants ten big gumballs, for this “rock” that his father left him. The store keeper looked at the “rock” and told him that under no circumstances will he sell him gumballs for this rock! The boy was very sad, and asked him why, “but it looks so nice”, he cried. The storekeeper answered him, you are right, this “rock” is worth a lot more money then the price of silly gumballs. If I sell you the gumballs for the rock, in twenty years from now, when you are more mature, you will call the police on me for stealing you diamond, for a few mere gumballs, even if they are large and tasty. Says the Chofetz Chaim, this is why chazal say “שכר מצוה בהאי עלמא ליכא” that Hashem very often doesn’t give us our reward in this temporary world, because the reward for a mitzva is so great that receiving it’s reward with physical pleasures, is like paying a diamond for some gumballs. Therefore, when we ask Hashem to help us, we don’t ask Him to grant our request in the merit of our mitzvos, but simply because Hashem is kind, and if He feels that it is good for us to have our request, he will grant it to us.

Regarding the loneliness that you feel on Shabbos, I don’t know your situation so it is difficult to give you suggestions, but there are many fascinating Jewish books, that you can read, or events going on in your community, which can help you.

There are numerous things that you can do to beseech Hashem to help you in your situation. Saying some tehillim is a good idea, but the main thing is real honest prayer. Of course, davening the regular tefillos is considered davening, but the main thing is the quality of your prayer. When you pray, you should keep in mind that right now you are actually talking to Hashem Himself, and He is the only source that can help you. Aside for the regular prayer text, talk to Hashem in your own language, the way you would talk to your friend (or course in a respectful way). Tell Him everything that is on your mind, and whatever you need, ask Him specifically to help you. That is real prayer, and it is very powerful.

Regarding “caving in”, that is not a good idea. When a person does an aviero, Hashem measures the difficulty that the person was under, however it is a sin nevertheless. For example, a person that was in a tremendous rush, for good reason. He ran a light and crashed into another car and caused tremendous physical and monetary damage as a result. When he comes in front of the judge, the judge might take his situation into consideration, but he will still be penalized for breaking the law and we will have to pay for the damage he caused.

One last thought, although you are going thru difficulties, just remember the rule, “lifum tzara agra” “The gain is according to the pain”. The reward that you will get, for doing mitzvot, even tough it is hard, is immeasurably greater then the reward of other people, because you are doing them, even though it is hard.

May Hashem help you, with all your difficulties, and if there is anything else you would like to discuss fell free to reach out to us.

Best wishes

Sources:

 

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