by Rabbi Avigdor Miller
In Koheles we read “Asher ain naaseh pisgam — Because the word [that means the sentence, the verdict], of evil deeds is not carried out [immediately] — al kein malei lev bnei haadam laasos rah — therefore the heart of man is full of the desire to do evil” (8:11).
Koheles speaks about the verdict of Hashem, when He brings retribution for a sin. Because it’s not immediately carried out, people are encouraged to do evil. They think they’ll get away with it. Now we have to understand that that’s not an accident. It’s not merely because Hakadosh Baruch Hu doesn’t carry out quickly the verdict that people are thereby led to continue their wrong ways. It’s the plan of Hakadosh Baruch Hu to do that. He intentionally postpones His verdict from being carried out in order that people should be able to fall into the pitfall, in the trap of thinking that there’s no punishment. It’s a test.
So now we learn that the postponement of punishment is in order to test mankind. And we understand, it’s common sense. If a man did a sin and immediately retribution came upon him, so nobody would sin and nobody would get reward for refraining from sin. You don’t give a man reward for not jumping off a roof. If everyone who did a sin immediately dropped dead then nobody would even dare to think about it.
Therefore, in order that this world should be a world of tests, that people should be able to choose between right and wrong, it was necessary to postpone the fulfillment of the verdict in order to give men the opportunity to think it over. So the good men will say that’s a test for them. If it’s a test, in the meantime I’ll utilize the opportunity to do teshuva, I’ll repent and change my ways. The others will seize the opportunity to persist in their wrong ways and finally they’ll get it, it’ll come.
The test is whether you’ll choose to see the ways of Hashem
So now we’re learning an important principle that Hakadosh Baruch Hu has made this world for the purpose of testing. And testing in what? Not merely testing if you’ll choose between good and bad. Of course that’s a test. But the test is whether you’ll choose to see the ways of Hashem, you’ll discern and recognize the ways of Hashem, or if you will choose to be blind and to ignore the hand of Hashem and to act as if it doesn’t exist. That’s the test. It’s a test what we call emunah. It’s a test what we call deah.
Deah means knowing. When we say chaneinu m’itcha deah (bestow knowledge to us; Shemoneh Esrei), when we ask of Hashem to bestow upon us deah, we mean in a lot of things. But the most important is bestow upon us understanding of the truth. We shouldn’t be deceived. -- Test of Emunah (#557)