The passuk states מיסרך אלקיך ‘ה בנו את איש ייסר כאשר just as a man rebukes his son, so too Hashem your G-d rebukes you.
The passuk compares Hashem’s rebuke to us, as a father’s rebuke to his son. The Derashos HaRan explains: when a father rebukes his son he is careful with two things. One, a father won’t give a punishment equal to what his son did, but rather a bit less. For example, if his son sins and deserves the death penalty, he won’t kill him, or if his son sins and is deserving of lashes, he won’t lash him all the lashes. Secondly, the punishment given is not intended for the father himself in order to take revenge, rather the punishment is directed towards his son to straighten him. If the father sees that the son regrets what he did and he won’t go back to his bad behavior, the father will immediately stop the
punishment. He will rejoice that he doesn’t need to continue punishing his beloved son.
Hashem acts with us in the same way; Hashem won’t punish equal to the sin that was done, but rather a bit less, as it states עלינו גמל כעונותינו ולא לנו עשה כחטאנו לא not as our accidental sins did He do to us, and not as our intentional sins did He punish us. Also Ezra said “ ונתתה מעונינו למטה חשכת אלקנו אתה כי כזאת פליטה לו since You are Hashem our G-d, You held back below from our intentional sins and You gave us this escape route.” Also the punishment which Hashem executes is not for Himself, rather it is to straighten Yisrael or to help others not to learn from their bad ways.
Onkelos translates the words מיסרך אלקיך ‘ה בנו את איש ייסר כאשר as “just as a man teaches his son, Hashem your G-d teaches you.” Why does Onkelos translate the words ייסר and מיסרך as “teaches” instead of “rebuke” and what is the intent? The Vilna Ga’on explains that rebuke is to change a person’s actions or character traits. The rebuke which is given is meant to impress upon a person to correct his ways, and change for the better. Onkelos translates ייסר and מיסרך as teach since a person is supposed to learn from the rebuke to improve his ways. He is taught a lesson which he needs to internalize. So too, the rebuke given to Bnei Yisrael in the desert was for the purpose of teaching them to check into their actions and better their ways.
The Gemara brings: a person does not stub his toe unless it is decreed from above as it states מצעדי ‘מה כוננו גבר from Hashem, the steps of men are prepared. Another Gemara brings examples of the simplest yissurim: one intends on diluting a drink with hot liquid and instead puts in cold, or vice versa, or ones clothing turns inside out, or one sticks his hand into his pocket to take out three coins and only pulls out two. If forty days pass without any yissurim, the person received his entire reward in this world, in place of the future world. When a person gets yissurim he is saved from the punishment which he would receive in the world to come. HaRav Chaim Shmulevitz explains that Hashem punishes a person with simple yissurim in order to cause him to pay attention and learn what his mistake was.
May we learn from Hashem’s rebuke to correct our ways!