Taking it With You-Purim-Suffering-Psalm of Wednesday
It is written, “It shall come to pass when all these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you shall regret in your heart, and you shall return to God, your Lord (Deuteronomy 30:1–2).” It is understandable how suffering could bring a person to repent, but why does the Scripture mentioned, “the blessing and the curse?”
The Baal Shem Tov explained it through the verse, “A Lord of vengeance is God; the Lord of vengeance shines forth (Psalms 94:1).” He gave the following example:
A peasant once rebelled against the king, desecrating a monument dedicated to the king’s glory. Upon hearing about this, the king did not punish them. Instead, he elevated this peasant step-by-step, until he became the king’s chief assistant.
The more good the king granted this peasant, and the more he elevated him to new heights, the more the peasant saw the glory of the King and his servants as well as their ways. This caused the peasant to suffer very greatly. He realized that he had rebelled against such a great, merciful King, who, instead of punishing him, had done so much good for him.
The King, however, had done this deliberately. If he had killed this rebel, his suffering would only have lasted a very short time. In this matter, however, he is made to suffer all his days. The higher he is raised, the more he suffers, since he had the audacity to rebel against such a king.
It is thus written, “A Lord of vengeance is God.” God’s name, Y-H-V-H, normally alludes to the Attribute of Mercy, and it is precisely through the Attribute of Mercy that God takes revenge. The verse therefore continues, “The Lord of vengeance shines forth.” The revenge is when God “shines forth” and reveals His greatness. When a person sees the greatness of the King, and recalls that he has rebelled against such a King, there is no suffering greater than this.
It is therefore written, “And it shall come to pass when all these things have come upon you, the blessing and a curse, you shall regret in your heart.” When a person sins and rebels against God, who is the great, awesome King, great and mighty, the Essence and Root of all universes, he is worthy of fierce and bitter punishment. Instead, however, God grants them a blessing, and there is no greater curse and sufferings of this.
The person knows that he has rebelled against God, and still He grants mercy in every good. This person should therefore spend all his days weeping with grief and suffering because he rebelled against God.
When the King sees that this person’s suffering is greater than that which would come from punishment, then He forgives him. (Toledot Yaakov Yosef, Bo)
It is difficult to understand the idea of drinking on Purim until we do not know the difference between “Bless Mordechai,” and, “Curse Haman.” Perhaps this idea of God of Mercy using blessing as a means to cause enough suffering to lead us to repent, is an expression of the idea of how good or blessing, can be a curse, and vice versa.