The Talmud (Berachos 5b) relates, that Rav Huna had 400 barrels of wine that went sour and turned to vinegar. (Judging by the price of a bottle of wine today, we can only imagine what the price of an entire barrel would be. Multiply this by 400, and it is evident that Rav Huna had suffered an immense financial loss).
The Talmud relates that the rabbis came to visit him, and advised him to do some soul searching to see if he could come up with a reason why this had happened to him.
Rav Huna said to them, “Am I suspect in your eyes [of wrongdoing]?”
The rabbis responded, “Do you suspect that Hashem punishes people unjustly?”
The Talmud relates that the rabbis discussed with Rav Huna an area that they felt that he needed to improve on regarding his financial dealings with his sharecropper. Rav Huna accepted their criticism, and accepted upon himself to rectify the situation. There are two versions to the end of this story: Some say, that a miracle occurred, and the vinegar reverted back to wine. Others say, that the price of vinegar rose, and Rav Huna was able to sell his vinegar for the price of wine.
Let us analyze the initial dialogue between Rav Huna and the rabbis.
There is a well known principle in Judaism that one should not suspect an innocent person of wrongdoing. This is referred to as חושד בכשרים. This concept is derived by our Sages from the story of Moshe Rabeinu, who suspected the Jewish people that they would not believe that he was an emissary of Hashem, nor would they heed His message to them (Shemos 4:1). As a result, Moshe Rabeinu’s hand became afflicted with a form of tzoraas-leprosy (ibid. 4:6). Based on this, the rabbis taught, “one who suspects innocent people of misdeeds, is punished by being stricken in his body” (Shabbos 97a; Midrash Tanchuma, Metzora 4. See also, Yoma 19b and Meiri ad loc).
Rav Huna seemed to resent the insinuation of the rabbis that he had lapsed in his behavior. Thus he said to them, “Am I suspect in your eyes [of wrongdoing]?”. In effect, he was implying to them that they were חושד בכשרים, suspecting an innocent person of wrongdoing.
The rabbis responded, “do you suspect that Hashem punishes people unjustly?” They meant to say, that as bad as it may be to suspect an innocent person of wrongdoing, it is infinitely worse to suspect Hashem of wrongdoing. When a person ignores his own misdeeds, and wonders why Hashem did this to him, he in effect is suspecting Hashem’s justice. Thus, they urged him to introspection, lest he fall prey to his thoughts, and be guilty of doubting the justice of the ways of Hashem.
When tragedy strikes, rather than to do some deep introspection, people would prefer to travel thousands of miles to visit a great rabbi in order to seek his blessing. However, while blessings from rabbis may be nice, the more important thing at this time is really introspection. For this, one does not need to travel abroad. All he needs to do, is to let his imagination fly, enabling it to travel inwards to his heart.
Kollel Toras Zeraim HASKAFA
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