"And there was a famine in the land..." (Gen. 26:1) Rabbi Yehuda opened [his discourse by quoting the verse] and he said: "G‑d tests the righteous but the wicked and the violence-lover, His soul hates". (Psalms 11:5) How orderly and right are the deeds of G‑d and all He does is according to justice and truth, as it is written, "He is the Rock, His work is perfect..." (Deut. 32:4)

Come and see! G‑d did not judge Adam before He commanded him for his own benefit, not to let his heart and will stray in another direction so that he would not be defiled [from the Other Side]. But he was not careful, and transgressed the precepts of his Master. Then G‑d judged him.

Even then, G‑d did not judge him as harshly as he deserved. He refrained from wrath and let him be among the living for one day [of G‑d's], which is one thousand years, minus the seventy years that he [Adam] gave to King David who had [been granted] no life of his own.

Similarly, G‑d does not judge man according to his evil deeds which he continually does, for if He did so, the world would not have survived, but He refrains from wrath with the righteous and the wicked. With the wicked, G‑d is more tolerant than with the righteous, so that they may repent completely and exist in this world and in the world to come. As it is written: "'As I live,' says the L-rd, G‑d, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live,'", (Ezekiel 33:11) to live in this world and in the world to come. For that reason, He always refrains. Another reason is that good children may issue from them, as Abraham was begotten of Terach - good children with good roots and a good portion in the world.

But G‑d is always strict with the righteous in every deed they do. Because He knows they will not turn away, neither to the right nor the left, He constantly tests them. Not for His own sake, as He knows their desire and the firmness of their faith and has no need of trying them. He tests them only to raise their reputation through these actions.

G‑d behaved similarly toward Abraham, as it is written: "that G‑d did test Abraham". (Gen. 22:1) What is meant by "test" [in Hebrew, "nisa"]?"It means the raising of the banner [in Hebrew, 'nes'], as it is written: "lift up a banner," (Isaiah 62:10) and "set up the banner. (Jeremiah 4:6) He raised his banner over the whole world. And for this G‑d raised the banner of Abraham before everybody's eyes, as it is written: "did test Abraham." Thus G‑d, in order to lift the banner of the righteous, tests them, so they will lift up their heads throughout the world.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida pick this section?

Sometimes one feels constantly tested. Cars break down during rainstorms, keys get lost, diapers leak. Is life here on this earth plane one BIG TEST? How do we assess sometimes continuous tzoris? Those who see the BIG PICTURE, know that there is only good. Some good is revealed: weddings, brit milah/baby naming, college acceptance letters. Some good is concealed: death, accidents, tragedy. Is it all to test our faith, to see how we accept things when "stuff" happens?

Can there be any more simple question than "Why me G‑d, why me?" How about this: maybe we are considered righteous {"All of your people are righteous'}, and these are the strict tests as mentioned above. Is this a comfort, even minimal? How can we go through a life of faith without questions, questions that never get direct answers? No answers here, only questions.

What did the selection mean to YOU?! And why are you reading it NOW?!

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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