Jewish Thought

God is Good

11.01.15

Question

we hear that God does only good. whats the proof for this? The accepted reason is that God Created the world to do good, He does not lack anything and therefore has no gain from the creation, therefore it must be only in order to give good to others. one only does bad in order to gain from it, and since He lacks nothing, it must be He does only good. I think this is a fallacy, it could certainly be that a bad thing will do bad for no purpose, like a fire, since it is a body of flame, it burns things, it doesn't need a reason for it, it simply burns bec' that's it's nature. So too, if somoeone's nature is bad, he will do bad without a purpose. therefore prove to me that God does not have a streak of badness to him.

Answer

To the Questioner, 

Your Question:

"Whats the proof for this? The accepted reason is that God Created the world to do good, He does not lack anything and therefore has no gain from the creation, therefore it must be only in order to give good to others".

Answer:

The reason we know that G-d does only good is not because of any logical proof; rather, it is an axiom that we have passed down a piori as being true. 
Since an axiom does not require any logical proof, it also cannot be refuted logically. 
The truth of the axiom can become clear to us through experience. The way to verify this axiom for yourself is outlined below (as quoted from the book: "It's All for the GOOD" (with permission), Chapter 4). 

With Blessings,
Rav Nachum

CHAPTER 4: Verifying the First Axiom

As mentioned, before one accepts an axiom to build his life upon, it is only appropriate to verify its truth through his own experience.
The objective axiom that we begin with according to Jewish belief is Hashem’s existence. Hashem is really Ain Sof Baruch Hu, and His True Reality is All-inclusive of every aspect of good and pleasure that exists in the world. He is also All-powerful and has full control over everything that transpires in life.

But how can we verify this? What can prove to us beyond a doubt that He really is All-inclusive, All-powerful, and has full control over everything in our lives?

A Way to Know
As we learned earlier, Hashem does not only desire our worship, He desires to give to us as well. It follows from this, that if we choose to worship Him and then ask Him to do something for us, He will oblige. After all, since, if as we believe, He is All-powerful, there must be nothing holding Him back.  

So wouldn’t the way for us to verify whether our first axiom about Hashem is true, be for us to ask Him for things that we need, time and time again; and if He fulfills them time and time again without fail, it will become obvious that He really does have full control over everything in our lives.

One or two times might not be enough for us to fully verify; but if we asked for many things, time after time, and each and every time we’d see that our requests fulfilled, wouldn’t that be a clear enough verification for anyone?

The only problem with this ‘litmus test’ is that we see many people who do worship Hashem but are not always answered in their prayers; and even if they are, it is certainly not each and every time for everything they request. If so, how could this possibly serve as a proof?!
The answer is that there are different types of prayers.

Hashem certainly listens to every prayer and always desires to give to us by fulfilling our requests; just that some types of prayers get answered immediately, and others only after a lapse of time.

The type of prayer we are referring to here as a ‘test’, is specifically that type which is “formatted” to be answered immediately. There are specific rules that a person must follow in order for his prayers to be answered “immediately”. But once he follows those rules, he should be able to see answers to his prayers – time after time, for each and every one. He can then know with certainty, at least within himself and through his own experience – the truth of the most basic axiom we have.

(This  does not mean to say that a person should not pray and ask Hashem for things that are appropriate to ask for in other forms of prayer that are not usually “answered immediately”. It just means that in order to verify the axiomatic ‘starting point’, to know without a doubt that Hashem exists and is All-inclusive and All-powerful, it is necessary to practice also praying in the “format” of prayers that are “answered immediately”, in order to obtain the sought-after verification.)
 
There are three main rules, according to the teachings of Chazal that we need to keep in mind when praying specifically for the purpose of ‘seeing’ an answer to the prayer:

Ask for Smaller Requests
Rule One: Ask for such results that you know you have enough merit to obtain.

Hashem has designed this world to run according to the principle of “measure for measure”. Commensurate to the amount of effort that one puts into his worship of Hashem, is he worthy of receiving Hashem’s Benevolence.

[Disclaimer: This does not mean that a person shouldn’t generally pray in a way where he requests a “matnas chinam” (Hashem’s Benevolence in a way that does not subtract from his merits at all). It simply means that for the purpose of verification he should pray for smaller requests (which seem to be reasonably within his merits to receive) rather than for larger ones, as will now be explained.]
 
Therefore, although a person could and should ask for all the bigger things in life - for example, that Hashem bring us the Final Redemption, that there be world peace, that there be unity between all Jews, etc. - such ‘universal’ requests will not help clarify whether Hashem is here and listening. The amount of merit that is necessary to achieve such results, is likely much more than we have at the present moment, and so we will not witness any immediate answer.


However, when we ask for results that we can be confident that we already do have enough merit for, i.e. for the “smaller things” that we may need for that day – ‘daily’ requests such as these can help us to clarify to ourselves whether Hashem is here and listening. For example, requesting that we be able to get to work/school on time without getting stuck in traffic (assuming  that one did not leave in the last minute – which would take a much greater amount of merit to be on time), or that we be able to stop into a bank and make a deposit without the line taking ‘forever’, or that the supper we are cooking come out tasty and good, etc. The amount of merit that is necessary to access such results is not a great deal, and we can safely assume that we already have that amountof merits.

Do Not Actively Expect
Rule Two: After completing your prayer, do not actively wait for it to be fulfilled.

Chazal teach us, that even in a case where a person was worthy of being answered for his prayers, the result will nonetheless not occur as long as the supplicant is focused on expecting, or waiting for it to appear. Even if the petitioner’s request was already granted from on high, it cannot emerge in this world until the requester is distracted from actively anticipating the desired outcome.

The Talmud in tractate Brachos says, “Anyone who is lengthy in his prayer and examines it (i.e. he is actively expecting that his request be fulfilled due to its lengthiness - Rashi) – comes at the end to heartache (i.e. at the end it is not fulfilled, and it comes out that [the] expectant yearning was in vain; and it is a heartache when a person awaits actively and his desire does not come [about] – Rashi)”.
 
Any prayer that one requests of Hashem and then ‘looks over his shoulder’, actively waiting to see it materialize - does not immediately come about. When a person puts extra effort into his prayer, expecting  that it will definitely be fulfilled due to his added concentration, it will only result in disappointment and heartache, as redemption from one’s situation of need can only materialize when one’s attention is distracted from his initial request.

On a practical level, this teaches us that in order to see Hashem answer our prayers, we must make sure to turn our attention away from the petitioned request right after we conclude our prayers about it.

Check Back After the Fact
Rule Three: Check back at the day’s end to see whether you were answered.

It is very easy to forget to go back and check to see whether Hashem actually answered us, since, after all, one of the rules is that after praying we need to distract ourselves from the original request. Therefore, in order to reap the benefits of the verification we are looking for, it is necessary to make a concerted effort to go back and see whether we were answered.

 A suitable time to make this accounting is at the end of the day, right before going to sleep. Start off by trying to remember what “small things” you asked for that day in your prayers (or perhaps jot them down earlier in the day as you make them, and keep the paper or notebook somewhere where it won’t catch your attention). Then review the events of the day in your mind, and see whether Hashem “answered” you or not.

Here’s the rule of what to look for during this review to see whether Hashem “answered” or not: “Was the core heart-request of my prayer fulfilled or not?”

Very often Hashem has clearly answered our prayers -  just that we don’t see it. This is because we tend to picture in our minds that Hashem will bring whatever we asked for in the exact manner in which we imagined Him to. In reality, though, very often Hashem will bring about the result that we needed and were praying for, but through a completely different means than how we expected it would come about.   

For example, imagine someone who, following the first rule, asks Hashem in the morning a ‘small request’ to help him pay back a $200 loan which is due on that day and right now he has nothing. With full belief and sincerity he asks Hashem to help him pay it back today – somehow – as it will be too overwhelming for him to have to face his creditor after today if he doesn’t.

He then goes through the entire day following the second rule – he distracts himself from his request and not does actively expect - yet he also has full trust that somehow, by the end of the day, the $200 will show up.

But it never does show up – at least not the way he thought it would, i.e. by someone knocking on his door and presenting him with $200. But...interestingly enough, in the mail that day there was a check for $250 from his parents - as a down payment for an apartment they’re planning to rent in his neighborhood when they come to visit him next month.

When reviewing the events of his day it is very easy for this supplicant to feel that he was not answered. After all, no money came in specifically for him, he is just as lacking now as he was in the morning.
 
But if he would look a bit deeper, if he would look at what he was really asking of Hashem in his core heart-request - that by the end of the day he should have enough money to pay back the debt so as not to be embarrassed when facing his creditor - then he was answered. 
 
By the end of the day he had full access to the entire sum needed to avoid the embarrassment from his creditor [we are assuming here for the purpose of the example that these parents trust their son and give him permission to manage the money they forwarded him in any responsible way he sees fit]. For he knows that he’ll be able to easily replace the money used today with other monies that are due to come in the next week, in plenty of time to make the down payment for his parents.

Therefore, when reviewing the events of the day, always keep in mind that Hashem’s answer doesn’t necessarily have to look the way we expected it to. It is very likely, that for Hashem to fulfill our requests in the direct way that we have in mind, it would take a lot more merits to obtain; and therefore Hashem does it in a way that is more concealed. But at the end of the day, if you had what you really needed and your core heart-request was fulfilled, it’s correct to view it as Hashem “having answered” the request.

Again and Again
Does all this sound theoretical and not real? Then just try it. I believe that if you follow the aforementioned rules you will be surprised.

The first time it “works”, you may not be very moved, as it might seem to have happened simply ‘by chance’. So too, the second time, or third. But keep doing it again and again, and at a certain point you’ll find yourself saying, “This can’t just be by chance. It can’t be that each and every time I ask for something, my core request is fulfilled; and, strangely enough, when I don’t ask for what I need, it doesn’t usually work out in the way I wanted”.
 
You will slowly come to realize, in a deep, subconscious way, that Hashem is not only the Infinite Creator who brought everything into existence many years ago; but also that His True All-inclusive and All-powerful Reality exists and is very much an active and present part of our lives – even today.
 
 
 

Comments