Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why Do Little Children Suffer?

Q: I understand that the reason that there is pain and suffering on this world is so that we can have kapparah on our aveiros. If that's the case, why do little children and babies have suffering?

A: I was once talking to a friend about this very concept. I came to the following conclusion: yes, we have to go through pain in our lives - because they erase our aveiros and make us into better people. However, at what point in a person's life should they begin to experience pain? And at what degree of discomfort should the painful experience be? Is 9 years old a good time to start? Maybe wait til a person is a little older...until they're 12 years old. But no. That's not how it works. A baby cries to show that s/he is uncomfortable. Hashem knows that in order for us to be able to tolerate and live through pain, He has to start us young - from the very beginning of our lives. Then, when things get harder, more painful, we are able to go through it and it's not like it's the first time we were ever exposed to something that hurts.

To a baby it might be hunger. To a toddler it might be a bump or a bruise. To a child it may be a bigger cut or scrape. A teenager or an adult that gets sick with a sore throat is in pain. Someone breaks their leg, it hurts. That's physical pain.

Then there's emotional pain. To a baby it can be when his mother leaves him with a babysitter - he feels the pain of separation. To a toddler it hurts when someone takes their toys away or doesn't share with them. A first grader might cry when she realizes she left her lunch at home - she feels forgotten. And as a person gets older, there are bigger things that hurt.

Remember that to each person, their painful experience is HUGE. It is their whole life! Whether it's the girl who left her snack at home or the student who didn't do well on her test - it feels just as major to her as the one who failed her road test and the girl who was rejected from the high school/seminary of her choice. It hurts them just as strongly as the potential employee who was told "no" by his prospective boss and the girl who got a "no" from a guy she was dating.

When it comes to feeling with other peoples pain, keep this in mind - don't belittle the pain other people are going through because to them this is their world. This is their life. The pain you are going through may seem greater and it hurts you so strongly but that doesn't take away from the fact that someone else is in pain. So feel with them, listen to them and be there for them - it will help them feel so much better!


    What a true thought! That-PAIN-no matter how old the person is, be it a kid, teen, or adult -is huge for that person! You are so right! For them it's the biggest thing! No matter how small it appears on the outside, it can really be huge in the inside!!!

  2. Great answer.
    But I still have a hard time when I hear about a little kid...or a baby...who is seriously sick, and going through harsh treatments, and in so much pain. How do you explain that?

  3. this is a very good advice. You are a wonderful person - it isn't many that hold that level of understanding and respect towards people who are hurting. so many of us become harsh because of our disappointments and trials that we fail to be able to relate to other people's hurts. You have used your losses and difficulties to instead support people. That is a wonderful wonderful thing! Thank you for always being such a supportive encouragement :)

  4. smiley-thanks!

    MW-There are deeper reasons for why little children have to go through pain. I just touched on the surface. There is also a mystical concept of neshamos having to come back to this world to correct something they did when they were alive in their past life. I cannot say that I understand the reasons why Hashem chose specific people to go through such difficult tests but I DO know that there IS a reason for suffering, even if I don't know what it is.

    To see a little child in pain hurts. They didn't do anything wrong to deserve it. But there's a bigger picture that we may not know about - and we need to trust in Hashem that there's a reason for it.

    Elle-thanks so much for your touching comment.


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