Blessed is the True Judge – A Response to Death and Tragedy

For thousands of years, Jews have been evoking the blessing of “Blessed is the True Judge” in response to death and tragedy. The entire blessing, with God’s name, is as follows:

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, the True Judge.

This statement is best illustrated by a story about Rabbi Akiva.

Rabbi Akiva once arrived at a city. Upon arrival, he sought a place to lodge; however, no one provided him with one. He said, “All that God does, He does for the good!” and he went to sleep in a field. In the field he had with him a rooster, a donkey and a lamp.

A wind came and blew out the candle. A cat came and ate the rooster. A lion came and ate the donkey.

Rabbi Akiva said, “All that God does, He does for the good!”

It turned out that an army came and captured the city.

This story illustrates how even seemingly negative occurrences happen for a reason, even if that reason is not apparent, as it was in the end for Rabbi Akiva. Because of this truth, alluded to in this story, the sages said that we should always thank God for the not-so-good happenings in our life, just as we thank God for the good in our life.

The Talmud states that the same way one blesses God for the good with joy, so too one should—with a complete heart, a complete mind and willingly—bless God for the not-so-good that befalls one.

When Death Occurs

Death is the most unexplainable concept that we face. Why did someone die when they did? Why did God choose one person to live longer than the other? Why did the person have to suffer before his or her death?

However, even when it comes to death we should bless God; we say, “Blessed is the True Judge,” acknowledging that this is beyond our understanding.

There is an infinite difference between us and God, and there is no way for us to understand His mysterious ways. We cannot comprehend; however, in spite of the pain of bereavement, we acknowledge that, ultimately, the “True Judge” knows what He is doing.

Let us remember to say “Baruch Dayan HaEmet” when we think of those we have lost.

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