Blessing in Disguise
Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8 )
All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you, if you hearken to the voice of God (Deut. 28:2).
The term “overtake” connotes that someone is fleeing. But why would anyone flee from blessings?
In Degel Machaneh Ephraim the Baal Shem Tov's grandson says that God's blessings sometimes come in a form that we see as distressful, and inasmuch as we do not know their true character, we may flee from them. The Torah assures us that the good that God intends for us will come upon us even if we try to avoid it.
This is also the meaning of the verse: “May goodness and loving-kindness pursue me all the days of my life” (Psalms 23:6). We pray that if, in our limited understanding, we try to avoid a concealed kindness, that it pursue and overtake us.
Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev saw a person running in the marketplace. “Where are you running to?” he asked.
The man answered, “I'm running for my parnassah (livelihood).”
Rabbi Levi Yitzchok said, “How do you know your livelihood is in front of you? Perhaps it is behind you and you are running away from it.”
Infants cry franticly when the pediatrician administers a painful injection to immunize them against dreaded disease, and they cannot possibly understand why the mother who loves and cares for them collaborates with the doctor to hurt them. The gap between our wisdom and the infinite wisdom of God is much greater than even that between an infant and its mother. Whereas the infant cannot be expected to accept its mother's actions as being for its welfare, we should be wise enough to know that everything that God does for us has an ultimate good, even if we see it as bad.