When it comes to hashkafa, we need a reality check: the only life worth living is one living for HaShem. That’s accomplished via Torah study, performance of mitzvos, and trusting in HaShem. From there we have to recognize the supreme holiness of our Creator, HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and treat Him according to that position.
When someone fails to serve HaShem, HaShem sends a heavenly potch, because that “punishment” from above is much better and more temporary than anything from this world, or chas v’shalom, after this life. When we recite tachanun, we say that Dovid HaMelech turned to Gad and chose punishment from HaShem. The context? Dovid counted the Jewish people – a census – which is forbidden by Torah. He had options – punishment from G-d or punishment from man. Dovid knew to trust HaShem, because He is infinitely more forgiving and loving than any mere mortal. As a result, the promised discipline was shorter and less painful than originally anticipated.
Does that mean we should take HaShem’s discipline because He’ll hold back? Far from it! To do such a thing, intentionally violating commandments because we’re “okay” with punishment, is a very grave mistake that the pesukim above hint to.
When we fail to tremble before the Creator, when we fail to have yiras, it’s a problem. The most basic yiras is yiras haonesh. Then there are higher levels such as yiras shlemas. Regardless of one’s level, yiras is essential with avodas HaShem. A lack of yirah creates a casualness toward HaShem, which is expressedly forbidden.
HaShem sends consequences according to our lot and behaviors to guide us toward the tikkun we’re intended to do. If we disregard this, and do not listen to HaShem, the consequences, or punishments, increase to drive us to do tshuva and make that tikkun. The more we rebel, the worse it gets.
Eventually, it gets to a point where the potching is seven times the behavior, offsetting the seven levels of the sin we discussed in an earlier post (linked above). The point of suffering, the point of potching, is to cause repentance. Sometimes pain in life is more than that from our perspectives, but in the bigger scheme all pain is for this purpose.
One of the most dangerous sins in the world today is the sin of casualness. It fosters attitude and rebellion, disrespect and disillusionment. Casualness is a key asset of the sitra achra.
How can we combat this? There are many ways:
Having kevanah while davening.
Spending a little time once a week to do cheshbon hanefesh.
Learning Torah daily.
Dressing with tznius for every makom.
Always dressing up for shul or other mitzvos
Properly wearing a hat and jacket for davening.
We have a covenant with HaShem. We have a promise, which when we fail to do our part of this contract, becomes a curse. There is no way to separate the Jewish people from this kesubah with HaShem – it is a forever bond. And when we choose to neglect or ignore this covenant, it comes to us in a way known as the “vengeance of the covenant.”
A Jew’s sole purpose is avodas HaShem. Only within that avodah does anything else have purpose or meaning. Outside of that exists only a barren wasteland of aveiros and destruction.