Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…