There is no doubt that shock can cause highly creative results. From the little boo from the grinning toddler to strategic preemptive attacks on enemy forces, shock or surprise has been a tool well used…and abused. Although medically severe shock can cause serious damage, rarely do we find it to be as lethal as the effect it had on Soroh. Our Parsha opens with the death of Soroh.
Since this event followed immediately that of the Akeidah (the near slaughter of her long-awaited son Yitschak by her husband Avraham), Rashi teaches that her early demise was triggered by the mere shock of hearing from others how close her son was to being killed,
explains Rashi. (Ber 23:2.) Although we can sympathize with Soroh, when we compare her reaction to that of Avrahams' after he was told by Hashem to actually perform the slaughter, it seems as if she grossly overreacted. If Soroh was on higher levels of prophesy than her husband (as the Rabbis teach she was), why then did she totally collapse from a piece of news that Avraham—who was in a far more painful situation—handled so incredibly well?
Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevits answered this question with a universal lesson in dealing with life's challenges. Just as any sensible employer equips his workers with the necessary tools to ensure that job can be done, so too Hashem equips the human being with the physical, emotional, and financial tools he requires before the challenge is placed in front of him.
When Hashem gives a test it is given lovingly, in order to encourage the blossoming of the potential; not just as a cruel game of watching the unarmed victim being torn to shreds in the amphitheatre of world tragedy. If all the tools supplied are used, one grits the teeth and prays for salvation. The result may not necessarily always be pleasant, but it will not crush the individual.
My sister tragically lost her beautiful and talented nine-year-old son in a traffic fatility, and despite the calamity, the parents and siblings dealt with the blow in a hugely inspiring way. When I asked what the secret was to her incredible bravery, she enlightened me with an interesting twist on a prayer said daily. In the prayer of Boruch She'omar which we say every morning, we say Boruch Goizer Umekayem (literally: Blessed is Hashem Who decrees and fulfils). She translated it as "Blessed is Hashem that when He decrees, He gives the victim the strength to be mekayem, to withstand the pain." Even with all the difficulty Avraham had to endure during the Akeidah, since it was his test, Hashem supplied him with the tools to cope with it. Soroh, however, was told (says the Midrash) by the Satan about the Akeidah who had no right to do so. (How angels have free choice to go against the direct will of Hashem is a longer discussion.) Since this test was not hers, no tools were given to her and therefore unarmed, she collapsed simply hearing about the Akeidah. We pray that we should be blessed with a tranquil and pleasantly uneventful life. If however we are served a curve ball, with faith, prayer and our inner strengths we must know we can deal with the challenges and ultimately grow from the experiences.
Rabbi Sipper is a close friend of ShortVort.com. Further divrei Torah from the Rov can be found on his yeshiva's website at www.ohravraham.com