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From: Mordechai

Dear Rabbi,

I have trouble accepting the idea that everything comes from G-d, and that even the bad things that happen in life are for the best. Would you please elaborate on this idea for me and how one can actually integrate this idea into his life? Because, to be honest, I think it’s a nice idea, but only a guise to help weak people cope with a harsh reality.

Dear Mordechai,

Judaism undoubtedly teaches that everything, whether we perceive it as good or bad, comes from Gd and is for the best — “Everything that Gd does, He does for the good” (Berachot 60b).

This teaching was made in reference to Rabbi Akiva who once came to a certain town where he was denied hospitality for the night. Remarking that all is from Gd and for the best, he slept outdoors on the outskirts of town. He had with him a candle, a rooster and a mule. A strong wind came and blew out the candle, a cat came and ate the rooster, and a lion came that devoured the mule — to all of which the Rabbi remarked, “It’s for the best.” In the morning he saw that the town had been ransacked, and that he too would have been harmed if the candle, rooster or mule would have revealed his whereabouts. He thus confirmed, “All that Gd does, He does for the best”.

We can all attest to events in our lives where something seemingly awful happened to us, sometimes regarding things so significant that we can’t imagine how and why it happened, and how we can possibly overcome, rebound or move on afterward. Yet often, after time, sometimes after much time, we come to see how that event actually opened opportunities and brought about outcomes which were much better than what we thought was good and that we lost. This may be in relationships, academics, business and more.

This alone should remind us that our perception is limited, and thus we may not know what’s really good for us, or may not recognize what’s better when it comes. As a result, on the one hand we should try our best to identify what seems best for us and to attempt to accomplish it, but on the other hand realize that not everything we want or think is good for us is actually best, or the best for us at that time. This doesn’t mean that one must easily give up his aspirations in the face of adversity, but it does keep one resilient and open to realizing one’s potential and finding happiness and fulfillment.

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