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FRUMToronto Articles Parsha Pearls

Devrei Torah relating to the weekly Parsha.

Blog Image: Rav_Miller.jpg
Benefit of physical infirmities - A Moment with Rabbi Avigdor Miller Zt"l #517
Parshas Tazria - Metzora 5780


Is there any benefit to physical infirmities, especially those of old age?

Rabbeinu Saadia Gaon asks this in the Sefer Emunas Vdeios; he says what's the benefit of illness? So it's not a klutz kasha! And here is what he answers: he says illness has a great function: l'hachnia es haliev, to humble one's heart. Now this is very important and it should be discussed by itself, a whole evening should be devoted to it, because it's so greatly ignored, and even those who know about, it's greatly neglected.

The Gemara tells us in Mesichta Brachos and also Pesachim, Chizkiyahu did three things, v'hodu lo chachomim, and the chachomim approved. One of the three things was, gunaz sefer refuos, he concealed a book of remedies. There was a book of remedies and he concealed it, people shouldn't use those remedies. Rashi says why did he do that? Because people had so much confidence in this book that when they became ill, they were not humbled. So we learn from this, that the purpose of illness is to become nichna, humble. Now how many people practice this?

So chas v'shalom next time you catch a cold, you have to wake up from your slumber, and realize here is an opportunity to become nichna. Here's a man going around with a cold, and thinking of nothing but how to get rid of it! Very good you should, v'rapei yerapei, certainly you should try to get rid of it! But there is a purpose to it, and that purpose is being vitiated if you ignore this teaching, you have to be humbled. What does humbled mean?

Next time I won't open such big a mouth against my wife, or against my husband, or against my father or my mother.
Next time I will be more humbled before Hakadosh Baruch Hu, when I bend down in shmonei esrei, I will put more thought into what I'm saying, I will be grateful to Him.
Next time I get well, I won't forget! I will go around saying every day, Baruch Ata Hashem rofei chol basar, You're keeping me well, isn't it a pity you people have no colds, forgetting about that? It's a good idea to be humbled now; you shouldn't need anything to make you humble.

Therefore that's the great benefit of infirmities. For people in old age there's a special benefit, because nobody wants to let go of life, everybody likes to hold onto it for the next million years, it's never time to die, no matter how old you are. You can be sure that in the olden days at the age of 990, when they were dying, they regretted that they had to leave the world so early.

Therefore Hakadosh Baruch Hu makes it easy. He sends infirmities, He sends sickness, and people start getting disgusted when they are very old, they say we'll never get well, and they give up, and they look forward now, we'll die soon anyhow and be relieved. Besides that, they're becoming such a big nuisance to their relatives; they're senile, and it costs a pile of money to support a senile parent. You have to hire an aide to take care of them day and night, and that aide is eating up all the inheritance that you hoped to get! Your parent's savings that you hoped to get one day are being consumed by this aide, and so finally the day comes, nobody is too sorry, both parties are resigned. That's why the infirmities of old age have beneficial purposes.

Another reason is, it gives you the final preparation for the next world. We are so conceited that everything that happens to us in the world, is like water off a duck's back. We get bumps and knocks and we are not humbled. So Hakadosh Baruch Hu tries to humble us once and for all, for good, just before we leave. He gives us a good kick, and we leave the world with a most ungraceful exit, you don't leave the world romantically… you're kicked out of the world! Either you're lying on the table and the surgeon is cutting into you when the end comes, or a man collapses in the street, or some other unromantic way.

And all this is for the purpose of giving you one last massive dose of humility. If you didn't acquire humility before, here's your last chance.

Good Shabbos To All

This is transcribed from questions that were posed to Harav Miller by the audience at the Thursday night lectures.
To listen to the audio of this Q & A please dial: 201-676-3210

Posted 4/24/2020 2:45 PM | Tell a Friend | Parsha Pearls | Comments (0)

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