In parshas Ha'azinu, the posuk says:
(I apologize for the English letters. I'm on my iPhone, which is an excuse for being terrible at Hebrew typing.)
"Kel Emunah ve'ein avel."
Describing Hashem, the pasuk says that He is a faithful King who causes no injustices. That seems to be repetitive. Wouldn't it be a fair assumption that a faithful king doesn't cause injustice?
The answer, simply, is that it's not. Here's why. Say the king of a particular country decrees that anyone who breaks a particular law will be thrown in jail for ten years. Not long after that, one of his servants breaks that specific law. There were witnesses, surveillance tapes and a non-coerced confession. The case was clear cut; the man was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison.
Was the king being unfaithful? Surely not. He had ironclad evidence. The man was given a fair trial. He had been warned. And yet, there are some grave injustices being committed, and the best intentioned ruler in the world can't do anything about it.
You see, the man's wife, who knew nothing of his criminal ways, is stuck with a husband in jail, children to raise on her own, and the irreversible stigma that comes along with being married to a criminal.
And think of his poor children. They might be too young to comprehend the meaning of their father's crime, but despite their innocence, they are stripped of a father. They are left to grow up with people pointing and whispering behind their backs, and they did nothing wrong.
His parents, his siblings, his friends, even people who suffer in the smallest of ways due to his imprisonment- each of them is an injustice.
There may not be a solution for a king of flesh and blood, but for Hakadosh Baruch Hu this isn't a problem. Hashem doesn't "forget" the suffering of others when He doles out a punishment, nissayon, or any other form of hardship. Being the Melech Malchei Hamlachim, the omniscient and omnipotent Ruler that He is, Hashem is in the unique position to take every drop of pain and aggravation that any given person will endure as a result of the "punishment."
You see, if a person is sick, you know that G-d meant for him to get sick, but it's easy to forget that G-d also meant for his family to experience their pain, however minimal in comparison.
When you think about it, the whole concept is mind boggling. The web of people who's lives are affected by any given incident is seemingly endless, yet G-d is able to, and indeed He does, calculate each bit of pain.
This thought is an incredible comfort to a person who is struggling, but there's another whole side to this thought, and that is the immense complexity if the calculations involved in Hashem's actions.
That's why I find myself horrified every time I hear people attempt to understand the inner workings of Hashem's plans.
You've probably heard the talk. An earthquake hits Japan, and immediately the thoughts of frum yidden turn to the bochurim imprisoned there. That's natural, even commendable. We want to ensure that our people are okay.
But as soon as people's thoughts turn to a possibly connection, they are stepping into dangerous territory. I'm not here to make an argument for or against a connection between the incarcerated bochurim and a natural disaster that uprooted an entire country. I'm simply trying to point out that none of us have a right to presume we know that.
How can you explain the thousands of people who lost their lives, most of whom were probably unaware of the bochurim involved in their country's legal system? And, however minor it may seem, how do you explain the frum man in New York who's small electronics store is unable to get stock of the many items manufactured in Japan? The ripple effects are endless, and we certainly have no right to presume to calculate it.
Perhaps the bochurim played a part in the disaster, but to make a statement such as "the reason they had another earthquake is that they didn't learn their lesson and release the bochurim" is nothing short of chutzpah. And when someone proclaimed that "someone should tell the Japanese that if they just release the bochurim the earthquakes will stop" I can't imagine they thought about what they were saying.
I think that this time of year, when we are trying to remember the incredible nissim that Hashem performed for us, it's important to remember that Hashem's power extends past the actions. Let's all try to remember that Hashem's love, care and careful calculations extend from the very first second of our perceived trouble, up until the very last ripple effect.