The Mystery Of Pain - A Book Of Jewish Thoughts
THE MYSTERY OF PAIN
THE mystery of pain is an old problem. The Rabbis were deeply impressed with its gravity and complexity. The sorrows of the universe and the agony of Israel; the suffering of the nation and the pain of the individual, formed the inspiration of some of their noblest thoughts. They fully realized that suffering can chasten and heal and purify, even ‘as salt cleanses meat’. And so they call God’s chastisements the blessed scourges of love, and tell us that even as the olive only gives forth its sweet and perfumed oil on being crushed, so also Israel only reaches perfection through crushing sorrows. They tell us that in the thick darkness of the world-problem is God—the ‘Light Behind’; that all things work together for good—even Death; they represent God as saying to mankind, ‘with thy very wounds I will heal thee’; they say that those whom God afflicts bear His name; that only through a ‘sorrow’s crown of sorrows’ cometh true life. Heaven is not to be won by rest and ease and quiet. Only those who have suffered and endured greatly have achieved greatly. The world’s greatest workers, thinkers, and teachers have only reached the pinnacle of fame by surmounting obstacles which to ordinary men, content with the lower slopes, would have seemed insuperable. Man has ever risen nearer to God by the altar-stairs of pain and sorrow—those altar-stairs which lead through darkness, for ever upwards, towards the very Throne of God.
S. ALFRED ADLER, 1906.
Excerpt From A Book of Jewish Thoughts By Joseph Herman Hertz