Blessing Every Moment - Berakhot 60
Today’s page even explores the Mishnah statement that one should bless God for evil as well as good. Can God do evil? No, says the Talmud’s rabbis – even that which we temporarily believe to be evil turns out for the best out of divine providence. A flood, in the long run, makes the land more fertile; finding a valuable item, even if it will later draw the king’s envy, is good for the moment. And an anecdote with Rabbi Akiva turns disaster into vengeance: an inhospitable town forces him and his rooster and donkey to stay outdoors, where his lamp blows out and his animals are eaten. That night the town is despoiled, for Akiva’s animals did not warn them. Is it true that “all the Merciful One does is for good,” as Akiva says? After all, his animals are still eaten, even if he is personally avenged. In this case, an eye for an eye has made both sides blind.
It is important to make the best of bad situations, striving to learn positive lessons from human challenges. But one need not be grateful to the challenge to learn from it. I can learn the lesson “drive slower” from a car accident, but I could have learned the same lesson without injury from a speeding ticket. And making each moment of life precious (i.e. “actively being”) is important, but not to the point of paralysis. We should never forget that life is about BOTH “being” and “doing” – if we are too busy “doing” to appreciate “being,” we have lost our balance; but if we do too much “being” and not enough “doing”, we are also lost. There are times for reflecting on life, and also times for doing.
Rabbi Adam Chalom