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Thought for the Day: Belief/Faith/Trust

Yaakov was out hiking by himself and fell off a cliff; Baruch HaShem he was able to catch hold of a branch about six feet down.  There he is, in the middle of no where, hanging from a branch six feet from safety of the solid ground and feet dangling hundreds of feet above a rocky canyon.  Beautiful, but not recommended.  He started yelling for help, knowing the futility of his efforts.  Suddenly, the clouds parted and a beam of sunlight shone through, bathing him in a heavenly warmth.  "I will help", thundered a divine voice from above.  "HaShem!  Is that you?", cried the incredulous Yaakov.  "Yes; and I shall save you, Yaakov."  "Baruch HaShem!  Chasdei HaShem!"  "Just let go, Yaakov."  Yaakov, tears in his eyes, looking heavenward, choked out, "IS THERE ANYONE ELSE WHO CAN HELP?"

You may have heard the joke before, you have have even heard it from me.  But nothing ruins a good joke more than analyzing it.  And nothing gives me more pleasure than ruining a joke.  Especially when I have a new way to analyze it.  What was Yaakov lacking?  Belief (emuna), faith (amana), or  trust (bitachon)?  Maybe all three?  To determine that, we need to know what those words mean.  To determine that, we need to go to our Torah haK'dosha as explained by our Chazal.

In parshas Sh'lach (Bamidbar 14:11), HaShem expresses dismay that klal yisrael don't believe in Him afer all the signs and wonders.  Chazal (see both Rashi and Sporno) explain that the experience they had with HaShem performing signs and wonders should have been enough for them to believe that HaShem could pull the necessary strings to get them into Eretz K'na'an.  So emuna (belief) means acceptance that the abilities shown in the past are a reliable indication of future performance.

The difference between bitachon (trust) and belief (emuna), is explained by the Chazon Ish (in Emuna v'Bitachon; imagine that).  He explains that emuna is knowing that HaShem will provide a parnassa when you move out of your parent's house, while bitachon is knowing that HaShem will provide a parnassa when you are in your own house and paying bills.  My free translation.  (Do I sound like an in-law?)

What about amana (faith)?  Back in parshas Noach (B'reishis 7:6), we are told that Noach entered the Teiva "because of the flood waters".  Chazal (brought by Rashi) explain that Noach was among those with little amana; he believed and didn't believe that the flood would come.  This really deserves more work, but the ba'alei mussar explain that Noach could not bring himself to believe that the midas hadin could actually overpower the midas ha'rachamim of HaKadosh Baruch Hu.  It just could not be that all life would be wiped out because of sin.  HaShem would surely m'vater, right?  So amana has to do with a person's ability to reconstruct and realign his concept of reality to match HaShem's.  That is, amana is acceptance that HaShem is more real than I am.

Personally, I think that our Reb Yaakov above was mostly lacking in bitachon; which ultimately has as it's source a deficiency in amana.  There is only one solution, of course; let go.


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