Answer: It is a huge difference.
Suppose I don’t want to go to school and so I am “beaten” by my parents. It is the same here: I break a leg, my country is at war, there are natural disasters; the “parental attitude” is felt but more realistically. By these problems I will still do what I am required to do. What is more, if I sometimes managed to escape punishment at school, here there are no discounts, there is nowhere to run.
I am between the “path of the Torah” and the “path of suffering” and this choice changes my life. In fact it is a matter of life or death, although we feel it as different kinds of sufferings. If someone wanted to win a million dollars in the lottery but won only a hundred thousand and someone else is bedridden for 15 years, both cases are felt as sufferings.
Question: But still, do I actually have to break a leg?
Answer: If this is the only thing that will change your attitude toward the goal of creation, then yes. But you can follow the path of “hastening time” and correct your attitude and then you won’t have to break a leg, since you will transcend the sufferings from the animal level to the level of the speaking.
The Lights and the vessels need to be opposite one another. On the animal level it is expressed, let’s say, by breaking a leg or losing one’s salary, or a fire, a serious illness, etc. But if you raise the sufferings to the level of the speaking, if you experience it and feel sorry about the fact that you cannot bestow now, it is your problem and this is what you suffer from. The Light that Reforms gives you this feeling and then there is no need for corporeal disasters any more.
Furthermore, many more corporeal troubles are required than spiritual ones. For example, to be sick for a thousand years without getting out of bed is like experiencing a moment of pangs of love: “Why don’t I love the Creator?” This is the difference between the levels, what can a small child do compared to a grown up if the lights go out at home? It is incomparable.
See how the crisis is spreading: No one is protected and safe from it. The world is threatened by terrible sufferings that are meant to break man, just to put a small switch through his common sense. Then, after a third world war he will discover that he is under the influence of nature. Then the fourth world war will replace another tiny switch: “Ahh, I have to be balanced with nature.” A fifth world war will show him the necessity of bestowal upon others, in order to reach harmony with nature, and so on.
Monstrous disasters, years of troubles, will only help to switch on what the Light could switch on in a couple of months. Through correct studies, a person could understand in a month that there is no other choice. So we have to bring our message to the world as quickly as possible.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 11/15/12, “The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah“