Psalms Meditations on God and Humanity 5. Crisis of Faith (Ps. 73)

Audio for this class

1 Opening Question: How can one learn about God?

2 The Psalms of Asaph

Cantoria (singing loft) by Luca della Robbia (1399-1482), 1431-38, his first known commission, in marble - Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Florence (Source: Wikipedia)

The text is the Latin for Psalm 150 ("Praise God in His sanctuary..." v.1)

(ז) בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֗וּא אָ֣ז נָתַ֤ן דָּוִיד֙ בָּרֹ֔אשׁ לְהֹד֖וֹת לַה' בְּיַד־אָסָ֖ף וְאֶחָֽיו׃ {פ} (ח) הוֹד֤וּ לַֽה' קִרְא֣וּ בִשְׁמ֔וֹ הוֹדִ֥יעוּ בָעַמִּ֖ים עֲלִילֹתָֽיו׃

The introduction to the psalm-like praise recited when the Ark was brought to Jerusalem. In the siddur, this 'psalm,' known as Hodu, traditionally opens Pesukei deZimrah / the Morning Psalms:

(7) Then, on that day, David first commissioned Asaph and his kinsmen to give praise to the LORD: (8) “Praise the LORD;
call on His name;
proclaim His deeds among the peoples.

(ל) וַ֠יֹּ֠אמֶר יְחִזְקִיָּ֨הוּ הַמֶּ֤לֶךְ וְהַשָּׂרִים֙ לַלְוִיִּ֔ם לְהַלֵּל֙ לַֽה' בְּדִבְרֵ֥י דָוִ֖יד וְאָסָ֣ף הַחֹזֶ֑ה וַֽיְהַלְלוּ֙ עַד־לְשִׂמְחָ֔ה וַֽיִּקְּד֖וּ וַיִּֽשְׁתַּחֲוֽוּ׃ {פ}

(30) King Hezekiah and the officers ordered the Levites to praise the LORD in the words of David and Asaph the seer; so they praised rapturously, and they bowed and prostrated themselves.

Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, Jewish Study Bible, Introductory note to Psalm 50

The "sons (or guild) of Asaphites" were Levites who served as Temple singers in the Second Temple (Nehemiah 7:44), though 1 Chronicles 16:7 traces the connection between Asaph and Temple music back to Davidic times. Second Chronicles 29:30 refers to "Asaph the seer," suggesting that for some, the liturgical poetry produced by this clan was understood to be divinely inspired. ...

4 Our Text (part of the Elohistic Psalter (emphasizing the name Elohim).

(א) מִזְמ֗וֹר לְאָ֫סָ֥ף אַ֤ךְ ט֖וֹב לְיִשְׂרָאֵ֥ל אֱלֹקִ֗ים לְבָרֵ֥י לֵבָֽב׃ (ב) וַאֲנִ֗י כִּ֭מְעַט (נטוי) [נָטָ֣יוּ] רַגְלָ֑י כְּ֝אַ֗יִן (שפכה) [שֻׁפְּכ֥וּ] אֲשֻׁרָֽי׃ (ג) כִּֽי־קִ֭נֵּאתִי בַּהוֹלְלִ֑ים שְׁל֖וֹם רְשָׁעִ֣ים אֶרְאֶֽה׃ (ד) כִּ֤י אֵ֖ין חַרְצֻבּ֥וֹת לְמוֹתָ֗ם וּבָרִ֥יא אוּלָֽם׃ (ה) בַּעֲמַ֣ל אֱנ֣וֹשׁ אֵינֵ֑מוֹ וְעִם־אָ֝דָ֗ם לֹ֣א יְנֻגָּֽעוּ׃
(1) A psalm of Asaph.

God is truly good to Israel,
to those whose heart is pure.
(2) As for me, my feet had almost strayed,
my steps were nearly led off course,
(3) for I envied the wanton;
I saw the wicked at ease.
(4) Death has no pangs for them;
their body is healthy.
(5) They have no part in the travail of men;
they are not afflicted like the rest of mankind.
(ו) לָ֭כֵן עֲנָקַ֣תְמוֹ גַאֲוָ֑ה יַעֲטָף־שִׁ֝֗ית חָמָ֥ס לָֽמוֹ׃ (ז) יָ֭צָא מֵחֵ֣לֶב עֵינֵ֑מוֹ עָ֝בְר֗וּ מַשְׂכִּיּ֥וֹת לֵבָֽב׃ (ח) יָמִ֤יקוּ ׀ וִידַבְּר֣וּ בְרָ֣ע עֹ֑שֶׁק מִמָּר֥וֹם יְדַבֵּֽרוּ׃ (ט) שַׁתּ֣וּ בַשָּׁמַ֣יִם פִּיהֶ֑ם וּ֝לְשׁוֹנָ֗ם תִּהֲלַ֥ךְ בָּאָֽרֶץ׃ (י) לָכֵ֤ן ׀ (ישיב) [יָשׁ֣וּב] עַמּ֣וֹ הֲלֹ֑ם וּמֵ֥י מָ֝לֵ֗א יִמָּ֥צוּ לָֽמוֹ׃ (יא) וְֽאָמְר֗וּ אֵיכָ֥ה יָדַֽע־אֵ֑ל וְיֵ֖שׁ דֵּעָ֣ה בְעֶלְיֽוֹן׃ (יב) הִנֵּה־אֵ֥לֶּה רְשָׁעִ֑ים וְשַׁלְוֵ֥י ע֝וֹלָ֗ם הִשְׂגּוּ־חָֽיִל׃

(6) So pride adorns their necks,
lawlessness enwraps them as a mantle.
(7) Fat shuts out their eyes;
their fancies (maski'ot levav/ something? of the heart) are extravagant.-a
(8) They scoff and plan evil;
from their eminence they plan wrongdoing.
(9) They set their mouths against heaven,
and their tongues range over the earth.
(10) So they pound His people again and again,
until they are drained of their very last tear.-a
(11) Then they say, “How could God know?
Is there knowledge with the Most High?”
(12) Such are the wicked;
ever tranquil, they amass wealth.

(יג) אַךְ־רִ֭יק זִכִּ֣יתִי לְבָבִ֑י וָאֶרְחַ֖ץ בְּנִקָּי֣וֹן כַּפָּֽי׃ (יד) וָאֱהִ֣י נָ֭גוּעַ כׇּל־הַיּ֑וֹם וְ֝תוֹכַחְתִּ֗י לַבְּקָרִֽים׃ (טו) אִם־אָ֭מַרְתִּי אֲסַפְּרָ֥ה כְמ֑וֹ הִנֵּ֤ה ד֖וֹר בָּנֶ֣יךָ בָגָֽדְתִּי׃ (טז) וָ֭אֲחַשְּׁבָה לָדַ֣עַת זֹ֑את עָמָ֖ל (היא) [ה֣וּא] בְעֵינָֽי׃ (יז) עַד־אָ֭בוֹא אֶל־מִקְדְּשֵׁי־אֵ֑ל אָ֝בִ֗ינָה לְאַחֲרִיתָֽם׃ (יח) אַ֣ךְ בַּ֭חֲלָקוֹת תָּשִׁ֣ית לָ֑מוֹ הִ֝פַּלְתָּ֗ם לְמַשּׁוּאֽוֹת׃ (יט) אֵ֤יךְ הָי֣וּ לְשַׁמָּ֣ה כְרָ֑גַע סָ֥פוּ תַ֝֗מּוּ מִן־בַּלָּהֽוֹת׃ (כ) כַּחֲל֥וֹם מֵהָקִ֑יץ אדושם בָּעִ֤יר ׀ צַלְמָ֬ם תִּבְזֶֽה׃

(13) It was for nothing that I kept my heart pure
and washed my hands in innocence,
(14) seeing that I have been constantly afflicted,
that each morning brings new punishments.
(15) Had I decided to say these things,
I should have been false to the circle of Your disciples.
(16) So I applied myself to understand this,
but it seemed a hopeless task (amal hu' ve`einai / it is a task in my eyes )
(17) till I entered God’s sanctuary
and reflected on their fate.

(18) You surround them with flattery;
You make them fall through blandishments.
(19) How suddenly are they ruined,
wholly swept away by terrors.
(20) When You are aroused You despise their image,
as one does a dream after waking, O Lord.-a

(כא) כִּ֭י יִתְחַמֵּ֣ץ לְבָבִ֑י וְ֝כִלְיוֹתַ֗י אֶשְׁתּוֹנָֽן׃ (כב) וַאֲנִי־בַ֭עַר וְלֹ֣א אֵדָ֑ע בְּ֝הֵמ֗וֹת הָיִ֥יתִי עִמָּֽךְ׃ (כג) וַאֲנִ֣י תָמִ֣יד עִמָּ֑ךְ אָ֝חַ֗זְתָּ בְּיַד־יְמִינִֽי׃ (כד) בַּעֲצָתְךָ֥ תַנְחֵ֑נִי וְ֝אַחַ֗ר כָּב֥וֹד תִּקָּחֵֽנִי׃ (כה) מִי־לִ֥י בַשָּׁמָ֑יִם וְ֝עִמְּךָ֗ לֹֽא־חָפַ֥צְתִּי בָאָֽרֶץ׃ (כו) כָּלָ֥ה שְׁאֵרִ֗י וּלְבָ֫בִ֥י צוּר־לְבָבִ֥י וְחֶלְקִ֗י אֱלֹקִ֥ים לְעוֹלָֽם׃ (כז) כִּֽי־הִנֵּ֣ה רְחֵקֶ֣יךָ יֹאבֵ֑דוּ הִ֝צְמַ֗תָּה כׇּל־זוֹנֶ֥ה מִמֶּֽךָּ׃ (כח) וַאֲנִ֤י ׀ קִ֥רְבַ֥ת אֱלֹקִ֗ים לִ֫י־ט֥וֹב שַׁתִּ֤י ׀ בַּאדושם ה' מַחְסִ֑י לְ֝סַפֵּ֗ר כׇּל־מַלְאֲכוֹתֶֽיךָ׃ {פ}

(21) My mind (levavi / my heart) was stripped of its reason,
my feelings (kilyotay / my kidneys) were numbed.-b
(22) I was a dolt, without knowledge;
I was brutish toward You.

(23) Yet I was always with You,
You held my right hand;
(24) You guided me by Your counsel
and led me toward honor.-c
(25) Whom else have I in heaven?
And having You, I want no one on earth.
(26) My body and mind (lit. u-levavi / and my heart) fail;
but God is the stay of my mind (lit. levavi / my heart), my portion forever.
(27) Those who keep far from You perish;
You annihilate all who are untrue to You.
(28) As for me, nearness to God is good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
that I may recount all Your works.

5 Commentaries: Theodicy

James Crenshaw, "Theodicy in the Hebrew Bible" (, visited December 2, 2022)

Emeritus Professor of Old Testament, Duke University

God is all-good. God is all-powerful. Terrible things happen. Trying to reconcile these three things is what we call theodicy—an attempt to understand why God allows evil to exist in the world. To quote Abraham: “Shall not the judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Gen 18:25). ...

Questions of theodicy abound in the Hebrew Bible, and the answers vary. From jurisprudence and warfare, for example, comes the retributive view that suffering is punishment for sin, whether unintentional or intentional. This idea pervades the historical and prophetic books as well as Psalms, Proverbs, and Job.

Parental discipline provides an alternative explanation for suffering. A loving parent punishes an errant child. The goal of correction is educative, a kind of soul building. By analogy, God is said to discipline favored ones (Prov 3:11-12).

Testing supplies a third response to the existence evil. Lacking full knowledge, due to human free will, God needs to know whether an individual’s devotion is genuine. That search underlies the harrowing tests of Abraham, whom God commands to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen 22), and of Job.

Other explanations for evil’s presence also appear in the Bible and related literature: punishment or reward are deferred until a later time, either the remote future or after death (Job 19:26, Dan 12:2, and Isa 45:15); suffering draws one closer to God, who shares the pain, as in Ps 73; always a mystery, God is hidden or in exile because of the affront of sin; people are victims in a deterministic universe, as in Ecclesiastes, 4 Ezra, and 2 Baruch; some individuals suffer to save others from an awful fate; and suffering is transgenerational, offspring paying for the sins of their parents (as in Exod 34:7).

In the end, theodicy fails to offer a convincing, rational explanation for evil. It does, however, remind God of the covenant with Israel; and it keeps theologians honest.

6 Commentary: Does God pay attention? Does God know?

(ב) בְּגַאֲוַ֣ת רָ֭שָׁע יִדְלַ֣ק עָנִ֑י יִתָּֽפְשׂ֓וּ ׀ בִּמְזִמּ֖וֹת ז֣וּ חָשָֽׁבוּ׃
(2) The wicked in his arrogance hounds the lowly—
may they be caught in the schemes they devise! -a
(יא) אָמַ֣ר בְּ֭לִבּוֹ שָׁ֣כַֽח אֵ֑ל הִסְתִּ֥יר פָּ֝נָ֗יו בַּל־רָאָ֥ה לָנֶֽצַח׃
(11) He thinks, “God is not mindful,
He hides His face, He never looks.”
(ח) בִּ֭ינוּ בֹּעֲרִ֣ים בָּעָ֑ם וּ֝כְסִילִ֗ים מָתַ֥י תַּשְׂכִּֽילוּ׃ (ט) הֲנֹ֣טַֽע אֹ֭זֶן הֲלֹ֣א יִשְׁמָ֑ע אִֽם־יֹ֥צֵֽר עַ֝֗יִן הֲלֹ֣א יַבִּֽיט׃ (י) הֲיֹסֵ֣ר גּ֭וֹיִם הֲלֹ֣א יוֹכִ֑יחַ הַֽמְלַמֵּ֖ד אָדָ֣ם דָּֽעַת׃ (יא) ה' יֹ֭דֵעַ מַחְשְׁב֣וֹת אָדָ֑ם כִּי־הֵ֥מָּה הָֽבֶל׃
(8) Take heed, you most brutish people;
fools, when will you get wisdom?
(9) Shall He who implants the ear not hear,
He who forms the eye not see?
(10) Shall He who disciplines nations not punish,
He who instructs men in knowledge?
(11) The LORD knows the designs of men to be futile.
(כ) תֵּ֭שֵׁב בְּאָחִ֣יךָ תְדַבֵּ֑ר בְּבֶֽן־אִ֝מְּךָ֗ תִּתֶּן־דֹּֽפִי׃ (כא) אֵ֤לֶּה עָשִׂ֨יתָ ׀ וְֽהֶחֱרַ֗שְׁתִּי דִּמִּ֗יתָ הֱיֽוֹת־אֶהְיֶ֥ה כָמ֑וֹךָ אוֹכִיחֲךָ֖ וְאֶעֶרְכָ֣ה לְעֵינֶֽיךָ׃

(from the first psalm of Asaph)

(20) you are busy maligning your brother,
defaming the son of your mother.
(21) If I failed to act when you did these things,
you would fancy that I was like you;
so I censure you and confront you with charges.

7 Commentary: A Visit to the Temple? (vv. 16-17)

(טז) וָ֭אֲחַשְּׁבָה לָדַ֣עַת זֹ֑את עָמָ֖ל (היא) [ה֣וּא] בְעֵינָֽי׃ (יז) עַד־אָ֭בוֹא אֶל־מִקְדְּשֵׁי־אֵ֑ל אָ֝בִ֗ינָה לְאַחֲרִיתָֽם׃

(16) So I applied myself to understand this,
but it seemed a hopeless task
/ `amal

(17) till I entered God’s sanctuary
and reflected on their fate.

(כב) כִּ֠י מֶֽה־הֹוֶ֤ה לָֽאָדָם֙ בְּכׇל־עֲמָל֔וֹ וּבְרַעְי֖וֹן לִבּ֑וֹ שְׁה֥וּא עָמֵ֖ל תַּ֥חַת הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ׃

(22) For what does a man get for all the toiling (`amalo) and worrying he does under the sun?

(ה) אַ֭שְׁרֵי יוֹשְׁבֵ֣י בֵיתֶ֑ךָ ע֝֗וֹד יְֽהַלְל֥וּךָ סֶּֽלָה׃ (ו) אַשְׁרֵ֣י אָ֭דָם עֽוֹז־ל֥וֹ בָ֑ךְ מְ֝סִלּ֗וֹת בִּלְבָבָֽם׃
(5) Happy are those who dwell in Your house;
they forever praise You. Selah.
(6) Happy is the man who finds refuge in You,
whose mind is on the [pilgrim] highways.

Berlin & Brettler, Commentary to Psalm 73:16-17

Reason alone could not solve the psalmist's dilemma or quiet his doubts. The Hebrew for hopeless task, 'amal,' is a key word of the pessimistic book Ecclesiastes. It is not philosophical exploration, but a religious experience in God's sanctuary that provided our psalmist with an answer. Sanctuary is in plural in Hebrew, perhaps referring to the Temple.

[8 Commentary: Kidneys (v. 21)]

(כא) כִּ֭י יִתְחַמֵּ֣ץ לְבָבִ֑י וְ֝כִלְיוֹתַ֗י אֶשְׁתּוֹנָֽן׃
(21) My mind was stripped of its reason,
my feelings were numbed.-b

Robert Alter, The Hebrew Bible

Translation of verse 21:

When my heart was embittered,

and my conscience stabbed with pain...


my conscience. The Hebrew says "kidneys" (King James Version, "reins"), thought to be the seat of conscience as the heart was thought to be the seat of understanding. The two terms are often joined, either in a collocation ('heart and kidneys') or, as here, in parallel versets.

9 Commentary: Ways of resolving the crisis

9a. Closeness to God (vv. 22-28)

(כז) כִּֽי־הִנֵּ֣ה רְחֵקֶ֣יךָ יֹאבֵ֑דוּ הִ֝צְמַ֗תָּה כׇּל־זוֹנֶ֥ה מִמֶּֽךָּ׃ (כח) וַאֲנִ֤י ׀ קִ֥רְבַ֥ת אֱלֹקִ֗ים לִ֫י־ט֥וֹב שַׁתִּ֤י ׀ בַּאדושם ה' מַחְסִ֑י לְ֝סַפֵּ֗ר כׇּל־מַלְאֲכוֹתֶֽיךָ׃ {פ}

(27) Those who keep far from You perish;
You annihilate all who are untrue to You.
(28) As for me, nearness to God is good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
that I may recount all Your works.

Robert Alter, Commentary to v. 28

God's closeness is good to me. This contrast to 'those far from You' (v. 27) points to the emotional core of the psalm. The speaker may have suffered, but the feeling of being close to God sustains him, gives him a sense of being protected.

9b. Physicality as an illusion (Kabbalistic/Chasidic)

(כב) וַאֲנִי־בַ֭עַר וְלֹ֣א אֵדָ֑ע בְּ֝הֵמ֗וֹת הָיִ֥יתִי עִמָּֽךְ׃ (כג) וַאֲנִ֣י תָמִ֣יד עִמָּ֑ךְ אָ֝חַ֗זְתָּ בְּיַד־יְמִינִֽי׃
(22) I was a dolt, without knowledge;
I was brutish toward You.
(23) Yet I was always with You,
You held my right hand;

(ג) ... ה' השוכן ומתלבש בנפשו בשעה זו. רק שאין נפשו מרגשת, מפני מסך החומר הגופני שלא נזדכך, ומחשיך עיני הנפש מראות מראות אלקים, כמו האבות וכיוצא בהן, שראו עולמם בחייהם.

וזהו שאמר אסף ברוח הקודש, בעד כל כנסת ישראל שבגולה: "ואני בער ולא אדע בהמות הייתי עמך ואני תמיד עמך". כלומר, שאף על פי שאני כבהמה בהיותי עמך, ולא אדע ולא ארגיש בנפשי יחוד זה, שתפול עליה אימתה ופחד תחילה, ואחר כך אהבה רבה בתענוגים, או כרשפי אש, כמידת הצדיקים שנזדכך חומרם. וכנודע, שדעת הוא לשון הרגשה בנפש, והוא כולל חסד וגבורה.

אף על פי כן אני תמיד עמך, כי אין החומר מונע יחוד הנפש באור אין סוף ברוך הוא הממלא כל עלמין, וכמו שכתוב: "גם חושך לא יחשיך ממך".


Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), first published 1796

Translation by Rabbi Nissan Mindel; Kehot Publication Society New York (New Revised Edition, 1984)

...the Lord dwells and clothes Himself in this man's soul {DR: when he occupies himself with Torah and commandments}, though his soul is unconscious of it because of the barrier of the bodily grossness which has not been purified and which dims the eyes of the soul [preventing it] from seeing Divine visions, as experienced by the Patriarchs and others of their stature, who "Saw their world during their lifetime."

This is also the meaning of what Asaf said, under Divine inspiration, on behalf of the whole community of Israel in exile: "So foolish was I and ignorant {DR: ve-lo eida`/I did not know, I did not have knowledge/da'at} , I was as a beast before Thee. Yet am I continually with Thee." (Psalms 73:22-23.) This means that even though I am as a "beast" when I am with Thee, being unaware of, and insensistive to, this union in my soul, which should bring down on it fear and awe first, followed by a great love of delights, or a burning [love] like fiery coals, similar to the quality of the tzaddikim, whose corporeality has been purified; for, as is known, da'at connotes a sensitivity of the soul, comprising chesed (kindness) and gevurah (sternness) --Yet "I am continually with Thee," for the corporeality of the body does not prevent the union of the soul with the light of the blessed En Sof , Who fills all worlds, and as is written, "Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee." (Psalms 139:12). ...

9c. Fleeing to God

יא. צָרִיךְ שֶׁתֵּדַע שֶׁכָּל אָדָם שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם עוֹבְרִים עָלָיו יִסּוּרִים וְצָרוֹת הַרְבֵּה וְהַרְפַּתְקָאוֹת שׁוֹנוֹת בְּלִי שִׁעוּר, הֵן בְּעִנְיַן הַפַּרְנָסָה, הֵן בְּעִנְיַן בְּרִיאוּת הַגּוּף, הֵן בְּעִנְיַן אִשְׁתּוֹ וּבָנָיו וּבְנֵי בֵּיתוֹ. וְאֵין נִמְצָא אָדָם בָּעוֹלָם שֶׁלֹּא יַעַבְרוּ עָלָיו יִסּוּרִים וְהַרְפַּתְקָאוֹת הַרְבֵּה, כִּי אָדָם לְעָמָל יֻלָּד, וּכְתִיב: "גַּם כָּל יָמָיו כַּעַס וּמַכְאוֹבִים".

... צְרִיכִין לִסְבֹּל הַכֹּל וּלְהַאֲמִין שֶׁהַכֹּל לְטוֹבָתוֹ, כִּי כָּל מַה דְּעָבִיד רַחֲמָנָא לְטַב עָבִיד.

וְלִבְרֹחַ בְּכָל פַּעַם לְהַשֵּׁם יִתְבָּרַךְ וּלְתוֹרָתוֹ, וּלְהִתְפַּלֵּל וּלְהִתְחַנֵּן לְפָנָיו. כִּי אֵין מָקוֹם לָנוּס מִפִּגְעֵי הָעוֹלָם כִּי אִם אֵלָיו יִתְבָּרַךְ לְבַד, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: "וּמָנוֹס בְּיוֹם צַר לִי". וַאֲפִלּוּ הַגָּרוּעַ שֶׁבַּגְּרוּעִים יָכוֹל לִבְרֹחַ לְהַשֵּׁם יִתְבָּרַךְ תָּמִיד, כִּי הַשֵּׁם יִתְבָּרַךְ בְּכָל מָקוֹם (וְכַמְבֹאָר בִּדְבָרֵינוּ בַּאֲרִיכוּת בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר). וְתֵכֶף כְּשֶׁבּוֹרֵחַ לְהַשֵּׁם יִתְבָּרַךְ, אֲזַי כָּל מַה שֶּׁעוֹבֵר עָלָיו נִתְהַפֵּךְ לְטוֹבָה גְּדוֹלָה לָנֶצַח. ... (שיחות הר"ן סי' ש"ח)

'Collected Counsel,' a miscellany based on the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1773-1810)

There is no one in the world who does not suffer in one way or another. People have all kinds of hardships and difficulties. It may be the problems of making a living, their health or domestic troubles with their wife and children and the other members of the household. Nobody can escape a certain amount of pain and hardship, because “man was born to struggle” (Job 5:7) “for his days are vexation and pain” (Ecclesiastes 2:23). The only way to escape is to seek refuge in God and His Torah.

... we have to bear everything with patience, in the faith that it is all for our good. “Everything that God does, He does for good.”

We must take refuge in God and His Torah at all times and plead before Him for mercy. There is no other escape from the afflictions of the world except God, as it is written: “He is my refuge on my day of trouble” (Ps. 59:17) Even the lowest of the low can still take refuge in God, because God is to be found in all places, as we have explained at length elsewhere. As soon as a person takes refuge in God, no matter what the experience, it will turn out for good — and the good will be truly enduring (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom 308).