Minute #522: Bittersweet

“How’s it going?” Josh asked Gedaliah. “Any good news lately?”

Baruch Hashem, can’t complain,” Gedaliah replied. “How’s your life been? It’s really been a while since we’ve been able to chat!”

“I guess I can’t complain, either. I hear of so many people experiencing real difficulties that my problems pale in comparison,” Josh said.

It was not until the next day that Josh found out about the serious problems his friend was experiencing. He immediately called and asked, “Gedaliah, I heard about your son’s illness, your wife’s problem and your financial straits. How come you didn’t tell me? I thought we were real friends.”

“You see, my friend, I have had some bitter pills to swallow, but one must accept that all that Hashem sends is good. So, in effect, the bitter pills are really sweet,” Gedaliah replied.

When one is not feeling well or is seriously ill, one seeks treatment that will bring one back to health. Often the remedy offered by the doctors is a treatment course that is difficult to bear. However, the patient agrees because the pain and discomfort caused by the medicines or operations pale in light of the fact that they can save one’s life. Few would turn down such an opportunity.

The Chofetz Chaim taught (Shemirat Halashon) that one may use the word “bitter” but never the word “bad” when speaking about Hashem’s disciplines. When turning to Hashem in prayer, one should ask that He make things sweet. Asking for good is not proper because what He does may be bitter but it’s certainly good.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

Society clearly challenges three foundations of Jewish belief. Modern science calls into question the Torah’s account of Creation; modern values attack traditional Rabbinic authority; and it also tempts our children to pursue a lifestyle that focuses on indulging our desire for worldly vanities. The battle for the Jewish soul continues. (Avi Shulman, Candlelight, p.156)