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Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?



Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is this world so unfair? Please don't tell me "We can't understand G‑d's ways." I am sick of hearing that. I want an explanation.


Are you sure you want an explanation? Do you really want to know why the innocent suffer? I think not. You are far better off with the question than with an answer.

You are bothered by the fact that people suffer undeservedly. As you should be. Any person with an ounce of moral sensitivity is outraged by the injustices of our world. Abraham, the first Jew, asked G‑d, "Should the Judge of the whole world not act fairly?" Moses asked, "Why have You treated this people badly?" And today we still ask, "Why G‑d, why?"

But what if we found the answer? What if someone came along and gave us a satisfying explanation? What if the mystery were finally solved? What if we asked why, and actually got an answer?

If this ultimate question were answered, then we would be able to make peace with the suffering of innocents. And that is unthinkable. Worse than innocent people suffering is others watching their suffering unmoved. And that's exactly what would happen if we were to understand why innocents suffer. We would no longer be bothered by their cry, we would no longer feel their pain, because we would understand why it is happening.

Imagine you are in a hospital and you hear a woman screaming with pain. Outside her room, her family is standing around chatting, all smiling and happy. You scream at them, "What's wrong with you? Can't you hear how much pain she is in?" They answer, "This is the delivery ward. She is having a baby. Of course we are happy."

When you have an explanation, pain doesn't seem so bad anymore. We can tolerate suffering when we know why it is happening.

And so, if we could make sense of innocent people suffering, if we could rationalise tragedy, then we could live with it. We would be able to hear the cry of sweet children in pain and not be horrified. We would tolerate seeing broken hearts and shattered lives, for we would be able to neatly explain them away. Our question would be answered, and we could move on.

But as long as the pain of innocents remains a burning question, we are bothered by its existence. And as long as we can't explain pain, we must alleviate it. If innocent people suffering does not fit into our worldview, we must eradicate it. Rather than justifying their pain, we need to get rid of it.

So keep asking the question, why do bad things happen to good people. But stop looking for answers. Start formulating a response. Take your righteous anger and turn it into a force for doing good. Redirect your frustration with injustice and unfairness and channel it into a drive to fight injustice and unfairness. Let your outrage propel you into action. When you see innocent people suffering, help them. Combat the pain in the world with goodness. Alleviate suffering wherever you can.

We don't want answers, we don't want explanations, and we don't want closure. We want an end to suffering. And we dare not leave it up to G‑d to alleviate suffering. He is waiting for us to do it. That's what we are here for.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to
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Discussion (306)
January 15, 2016
The problem is, it never stops. It goes on and on and on. The good are punished, taken advantage of, abused, cheated, etc. It never stops. Just when things seem to level out and are going good for awhile (or you think they are). Then you get sucker punched again. The bad guys prosper, praise God, and continue on their way without any consequences. The good people suffer and never seem to get any relief. The bad have a good time and and torture the good in the name of God. If this was a sales pitch for a new product evil would win hands down.
October 30, 2015
Take your righteous anger and that driven force to do good. That's one way of dissolving bad forces at work. Feeding yourself with the true light that comes with the whole package. Peace, Love, understanding, joy, etc.. Strive for the package instead of carrying the baggage. Overcoming all things.
British Columbia, Canada
October 27, 2015
I am non-religious, but I ran upon this website. This is an absolutely beautiful and mind changing answer. Thank you very much!
October 21, 2015
Sorry for the loss of your sister Ed. All of us have loss or will have loss. Sometime our senses are heightened when we lose one sense. Perhaps she felt and heard more. At least I hope. Light shines in the darkness at unexpected moments in our life. I hope she had a glimmer of a Rainbow...before she passed.
October 20, 2015
I know it is hard to reason why, how, and other questions..Ten years go or more, may she rest in peace, my sister had retinitus pigmintosa with no cure possible. Now they have discovered a way for people to see with an implanting into the ete of a certain gadget....Why so darn if she was alive she would have been able to see her children which sh never saw.
October 20, 2015
I agree with Aaron and Robert. I do believe the injustice and fairness should be fought against, but somehow as a woman, it seems men don't listen. That said, it is more of a struggle to be heard. This is what saddens me when I fight back.
But Robert, gives me inspiration and a calling. Thank you both, Ellen
October 8, 2015
I partly agree with what you say i.e. how to deal with these matters.
However, knowing "why" could help with the way that one deals with these things.
October 5, 2015
The question was pointless in the first place. How can we deal with bad things happening, is what everyone should be asking not why are they happening. Why doesn't encourage action...its just a waste of time.
August 18, 2015
It's the sanest answer I ever had for this question. Very practical. Thank you such much. Others try to explain it with platitudes and I do not blame the one hi asked. God can explain it Himself and He doesn't need our help. It only makes many get angry at God.
Anton lio
August 9, 2015
No offense but I totally disagree with that and the analogy of relatives being happy while the woman is giving birth. Men can't relate to that but other women can and will feel compassionate. Joy feels good because we understand pain, sunny days feel special because of rain, yet we still understand what causes them all. There are different degrees of pain and suffering and it's normal for a person to question why? My brother got hit over the head by some thugs and left out in the street, on a hot pavement, at a 90degree weather, in broad daylight, bleeding from his head while awaiting an ambulance. This guy never fights anyone, doesn't steal, doesn't commit adultery, wears tefilin and will drop everything to be there for the ones in need. Let's be honest with ourselves, some things in life we just can't explain and neither can the Torah. Some may say "be thankful that he is alive". I say he didn't deserve it in the first place.