http://revach.net/article.php?id=4760

Section: Stories   Category: Mashal
Rav Elya Weintraub - Is Playing With Matches So Terrible?

A little boy is warned by his father not to play with matches.  When no one is looking, not being able to overcome his childish temptation, the little boy takes the matches out of the drawer and starts to fiddle around with them.  He then leaves the house to go play with his friends, but not without leaving a lit match behind.

Later after hearing all the fire trucks he comes running to see what happened.  His father meets him and gives him a smack across his face that leaves him nearly unconscious.  "Yes I deserved a smack for playing with the matches" he admits to his father, "But why so hard?  All I did was play with matches."  "All you did was play with matches?", says the father.  "All you did was burn our house down with everything we owned inside!" 

Sometimes when we run into rough patches in life we wonder what we did to deserve it, says Rav Elya Weintraub zt"l.  Should we be so severely punished for few little aveiros here and there?  To us our transgressions seem trivial because we don't understand how Hashem's world works.  We don't fathom the damage we do to the Bria when we commit an aveira.  As hard a smack that Hashem ever gives us, if we understood what we really did, we'd realize we are fortunate to get off with a slap on the wrist when we deserve so much more.  Only Hashem's incredible mercy saves us from the bitter fruits of our sins.