Yesurim - The Source of Hardships
A person brought the hands of his watch to a watchmaker and said, "Please fix the hands of my watch. They aren't working." The watchmaker said, "Where's the watch?" "I left the watch home. The watch isn't the problem. The problem is the hands. They aren't moving." This man didn’t realize that if the hands don’t move, it means there's a problem with the mechanism of the watch. This nimshal is, when a person is going through hard times, he attributes his hardships to natural matters, according to his understanding. He doesn’t realize that there are reasons and behind what he sees and knows. The source of all hardships and suffering is sins. As the Gemara states, "there isn't affliction without sin." Aveiros stand at the root of the problem. People see the problems (someone humiliated them, or there's an illness, or s financial loss, etc.) and they think that it is because of this person or that person, or because of this reason or that reason. They forget that the source of their problems is sins. The Gemara (Sotah 49:) says that before Moshiach, "The face of the generation is the face of a dog." When someone hits a dog with a stick, the dog's tendency is to bite the stick that hit it. The dog doesn’t realize that the person holding the stick hit him. This describes the generation before Moshiach. They attribute everything that happens to them to the exact cause they see. They don’t realize that everything comes from Hashem, consequent to their bad deeds.
The Chinuch (Mitzvah 241) writes, "The mitzvah of לא תקום is to think that everything that happens to him – the good and the bad – was destined by Hashem. If it weren't for Hashem's decree, your fellow man couldn’t do anything to you. Therefore, when someone harms you or causes you distress, believe that it is because of your sins. Hashem decreed it. Don’t consider taking revenge, because that person isn’t the root of the problem. Sin is. As Dovid HaMelech said, "Let him curse, because Hashem told him to do so' (Shmuel 2, 16:1). He attributed it to his sins, not to Shimi ben Gara [who cursed him]…"