Author Topic: A question regarding:All is in the hands of heaven except for the fear of heaven  (Read 1439 times)

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Offline edu

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In the Talmud tractate Brachot page 10, we learn that there were some gangsters (biryonim) who caused serious suffering for Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Meir at the beginning thought that the appropriate response would be to pray that these gangsters die.
In the end, his wife Bruria convinced him that he should pray for those gangsters to repent.
The Talmud records that the gangsters indeed repented (seemingly due to Rabbi Meir's prayer).
The question is, how can we explain the ability of prayers to induce people to repent in light of another principle of Judaism, "all is in the hands of heaven except the fear of heaven" (tractate Brachot 33b, tractate Megilla 25a, tractate Nida 16b)?

Offline muman613

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Very interesting question edu... It does seem to be a conflict of ideas... But we all know that there must be an explanation, or maybe many explanations.

I will just postulate according to my experience and my understanding.

I suspect that prayer itself has two functions. It is a way to express our hopes and desires to Hashem, who already knows what we need and also what we want. By doing this prayer we actualize the thoughts into words. Words can affect us in a way which we were not aware of before speaking them. I have heard it said that we become a new person in a way, and thus any decree against us will no longer be enforced, because we are no longer the person to whom the suffering must come.

In the case which you discuss, that Rabbi Meir was suffering because of the hooligans. In a way these hooligans were sent by Hashem to cause Rabbi Meir to realize that he should pray more for others. Since Rabbi Meir did not curse them they may have realized the error of their ways {tormenting the Gadol} and stopped doing it, and realized that Torah was the truth and the path to greatness.

This is my theory.... Others may disagree..
You shall make yourself the Festival of Sukkoth for seven days, when you gather in [the produce] from your threshing floor and your vat.And you shall rejoice in your Festival-you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow, who are within your cities
Duet 16:13-14

Offline Tag-MehirTzedek

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I think it has to do with what type of sinner one is talking about. Their are levels of sinners. Their are those who do not want to commit certain sins but they are inclined towards them and do them. Perhaps in this situation one can pray and work on with these types of sins and sinner. Then their are other types of sinners and sins when someone commits even without any perceived benefit. Just to commit the sins. Perhaps with those others praying for them and working with them will do very little.
  Hattati Aviti Pashati (3 levels of making same sin).
.   ד  עֹזְבֵי תוֹרָה, יְהַלְלוּ רָשָׁע;    וְשֹׁמְרֵי תוֹרָה, יִתְגָּרוּ בָם
4 They that forsake the law praise the wicked; but such as keep the law contend with them.

ה  אַנְשֵׁי-רָע, לֹא-יָבִינוּ מִשְׁפָּט;    וּמְבַקְשֵׁי יְהוָה, יָבִינוּ כֹל.   
5 Evil men understand not justice; but they that seek the LORD understand all things.

Offline edu

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Without stating any preferences at this time here is a summary of some of the answers I have heard on this question, how is it possible for Rabbi Meir's prayer to have an effect on the fear of heaven of others.
1 The prayer removed the temptations or trials that made the gangsters sin
2 The prayer caused the gangsters to meet people who had positive spiritual influences on them
3 The prayer increased the intensity of the natural feelings of remorse that the gangsters had, to become more stronger than usual
4 G-d presented the gangsters with much more opportunities to make a huge change in life, than is usual
5 When people see open miracles it is much easier to fear G-d. Rabbi Meir's prayer caused a miracle or miracles that put the fear of G-d into the gangsters.