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Weekly Chizuk

Parshas Behar - Bechukosai

All You Have to Do Is Trust

And the Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them: When you come to the land that I am giving you, the land shall rest a Sabbath to the Lord. Vayikra 25:1-2)

The Kli Yakar explains that the mitzvah of keeping the Shmitta year was to internalize the middah of emuna and bitachon in Hashem in the hearts of Klal Yisroel. Hakadosh Baruch Hu was concerned that when they finally entered the land they would get involved in developing the land. As they become more engrossed in farming and their efforts bear success, they would come to forget Hashem and eventually lose their bitachon. They would think that their expertise (the Yiddishe Kup) was the source of their accomplishment and that everything is governed by the laws of nature. The land is theirs and they own it. Therefore Hashem totally removed them from the natural course of action. Normally a farmer plants for 2 years and leaves the land fallow one year in order to not exhaust its fertility. Hakadosh Baruch Hu told them to plant for 6 straight years and promised that it wont lose its productiveness. Secondly He promised a miracle within a miracle: after 6 straight years of planting not only would the land not deteriorate, but in the sixth year it would become so fertile it would give forth a crop that would last for 3 years. Not only that but the crop would be the same amount as a normal crop, but would be of such a high quality it would be sufficient to last 3 years.

This is hinted at in the possuk: You may sow your field for six years, and for six years you may prune your vineyard, and gather in its produce, (ibid. 3)  . You will notice that the word its produce has a dot in the heh inferring to read the word: its specific produce. This is hinting that its normal produce will be eaten for 3 years! The effect of all these miracles will be that Klal Yisroel will know that I am the real owner of the land and this will bring them to lift their eyes on high to trust in Hashem. This was the reason why the mann descended everyday with only one days portion. In this way they continuously looked to Hashem to provide their daily sustenance and constantly trust in Him.

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This last week we celebrated Pesach Sheni and Lag BOmer. On Pesach Sheni the Bnei Yisroel finished eating the Matzos they had taken out of Mitzrayim. There is a dispute when they started eating the mann. According to most meforshim the mann started falling the very next day (either the 15th or the 16th of Iyar according to different meforshim). However, the Chasam Sofer cites a midrash that says that for 3 days afterwards they had no bread, and that is when they started complaining. The mann started falling after these three days, on the 18th of Iyar. That was Lag BOmer. According to this, Lag BOmer is the holiday of bitachon.

This week we read Behar, which discusses the Shmitta year. Shmitta is the year of bitachon. Therefore it is appropriate for us at this time to take some time out to discuss bitachon.

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Adapted from Minchas Asher, Sefer Bemidbar, parshas  Behaaloscha, by Rav Asher Weiss.

It is quite well known that reciting Parshas HaMann (Shemos 16:4-36) is a segula for parnossah[1]. However, one cannot merely recite it by rote. The basis for this segula is bitachon. This parsha teaches us that wealth and parnossah come only from the great, generous, and bountiful hand of HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Our forefathers in the desert ate only heavenly bread. So, too, we receive only what the Almighty in His great goodness pours down upon us. It is all blessings from Heaven above. Regarding the mann it states, and the one who took more didnt have any more (than the measure), nor did the one who took less lack (Shemos 16:18). So too regarding ones parnossah: wisdom does not bring bread, ones parnossah has nothing to do with his effort or prowess. It has already been decreed for him from Rosh Hashana until the next Rosh Hashana[2]. All that is incumbent upon him is to perform a normal hishtadlus, all the time knowing that his parnossah comes from Hashem.

The heavenly bounty that showers down upon the person and the necessity for hishtadlus is in proportion to his bitachon. The Chassidim tell the following story about the great tzaddik Rebbe Zusha from Anipoli. He and his talmidim of the chevraya kaddisha (members of his Beis Midrash were called the Holy Fellowship) used to sit and devote themselves to learning Torah with total dedication. It once occurred that they had been sitting in the Beis Midrash for several days, learning and davening, but they had no food and were famished. The talmidim pressed the rebbe to go to a certain Oshir (wealthy individual) in town and beg him to have pity on the poor starving talmidim and give them some food. The tzaddik Rebbe Zusha agreed and went to the Oshirs house. He approached the door and put his hand on the handle. Then he went back to the Beis Midrash. The talmidim were shocked to hear his reasoning that by touching the door handle he had fulfilled his obligation of hishtadlus. He had not even knocked on the door and the Oshir had no inkling at all that the tzaddik Rebbe Zusha was standing there in front of his house.

To their further shock, a few moments later the Oshir came running into the Beis Midrash carrying baskets of food for the talmidim. The Chassidim saw clearly that because of the tzaddiks great and lofty bitachon, the little bit of hishtadlus of just touching the door handle was sufficient. [3]

The great Chassidic Rebbe Elimelech in his sefer Noam Elimelech (parshas Behar) cites a commentary from his older brother Rebbe Zusha: In parshas Behar the Torah describes the mitzvah of Shmitta. It says, And if you shall say, what shall we eat in the seventh year? Behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our produce. Then I will command My blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years (Vayikra 25:20-21). This is a very strange statement. Why did Hashem have to wait for Klal Yisroel to ask, What are we going to eat? before giving them the bracha? In other places in the Torah He gives the bracha without being asked.

The answer is that when the Ribono Shel Olam created the world, He created the channels to rain down upon the individual a constant bounty of sustenance. As long as Klal Yisroel do not ask the question What shall we eat? they are guaranteed the heavenly blessings in limitless bounty merely from the power of their bitachon. They will be able to eat just a little. The food will be so blessed within them that that little bit will satisfy them and they wont need to bother themselves with cutting the crop and harvesting, etc. (See the commentary of the Siforno). However, if they fall in their emuna and become worried and ask, What are we going to eat? they have just locked the windows of Heaven and spoiled the storehouses of bounty. HaKadosh Baruch Hu now has to give them a special bracha, Then I will command My blessing upon you HaKadosh Baruch Hu in His great mercy and loving-kindness will shower down a new bracha. But they have bothered the Ribono Shel Olam to create new blessings. They will have to pay the price with hard work in order to get it.

The author of the Toldos Yaakov Yoseph in his sefer Kesones Pasim (parshas Shemini) quotes the Rambam that if we would have perfect bitachon in HaKadosh Baruch Hu we would merit heavenly mann even today! In parshas Mikeitz he cites the Baal Shem Tov who comments on the possuk One who trusts in Hashem is surrounded by chesed (Tehillim 32:10). If a person has perfect bitachon in Hashem, then angels come to guard him each step of the way. All the evil forces of the world cannot harm him. The sefer Keser Shem Tov by the Baal Shem Tov further states that if one really has bitachon in Hashem, then even if he has been condemned to terrible decrees, they have no influence over him. As it states (Tehillim 125:1) Those who trust in the Lord shall be like Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but exists for ever.

On the other hand, we find the famous opinion of the Chazon Ish, in his sefer Emuna uBitachon, (chap. 2). He writes that many people think that when they encounter problems and say, Hashem will help, then they can be assured that nothing bad will happen to them. This, in the opinion of the Chazon Ish, is a mistake. Hashem has created the world according to a set of Divine laws; there is judgment and there is a Heavenly judge, and HaKadosh Baruch Hu does not help everyone. A person has to be afraid of punishment. So how can he be certain that Hashem will help? According to the Chazon Ish, bitachon is the practical aspect of emuna. Emuna is the abstract concept, and bitachon is the actual test if a person will recognize that even if a sharp sword is placed on the persons neck, he should not refrain from prayer (Tanna dBei Eliyahu Rabba 8). Bitachon means not to rely on normal reasoning and the laws of probability. Hashem can change anything. Even a dying person can daven for a cure. But we cannot be certain that with bitachon Hashem will certainly help the person if he isnt worthy.

Apparently, there seems to be a disagreement between the Chazon Ish and the Chassidic masters as to the power of bitachon.[4] Perhaps we can resolve the issue by showing that really, there is no dispute and everyone is in agreement. Rav Chaim of Volozhin in Nefesh HaChaim (Shaar 3, chap. 12) states that there is a marvelous segula to annul and remove all evil influences from having power over a person. They will not leave even the smallest impression on him. A person should fix in his mind and heart that Hashem is the only power in the world and that there is none besides Him, He fills the entire universe. A person should make himself totally submissive to Hashems will and not pay any attention to any other power or force in the world. When he attaches his thoughts to Hashem as the only universal power, then in return Hashem will, so to speak, take him into His hand, and automatically all other powers and desires in the world will be annulled and will not be able to touch him at all. We see that Rav Chaim of Volozhin, the great talmid of the Vilna Gaon, understood the great power of bitachon in a fashion similar to the way the great Chassidic tzaddikim understood it. Certainly the Chazon Ish didnt mean to come and disagree with him. The Chazon Ish himself (sefer Emuna uBitachon, chap. 2, section 7) extols the great character of bitachon that brings down ruach hakodesh (holy spirit) upon the person.

The answer is that it all depends upon the strength of the persons bitachon. The great Chassidic masters who taught that a person who trusts in Hashem is guarded from all evil were speaking about individuals who withstood the most difficult tests. These were tzaddikim who trusted in HaKadosh Baruch Hu with every strand of their fiber. They walked with heavenly protection due to their constant and lofty closeness to the Divine. (See also the commentary of the Radak on Tehillim 116:10, and the sefer Emuna uBitachon of the Ramban, end of chap. 11.)

Everyone agrees in the power of bitachon. The dispute revolves around the question of just who is this exalted person who can rely on pure bitachon. The Chazon Ish says it depends upon the greatness of this trusting person and his holiness. He must be a very special person.

The Chassidic Rebbes, on the other hand, taught that it is not dependent upon the greatness of the person. It depends solely upon the strength of the persons bitachon. We find a source for this opinion in the Sefer Ha-Ikarim, maamar 4, chap. 46: One who trusts in Hashem is surrounded by chesed. This means that even though one is not worthy, still it is the nature of bitachon that chesed flows down upon the person for no other reason than that the person trusted in Hashem. The Yalkut Shimoni (Tehillim 32:10) states explicitly, Many are the sorrows of the wicked; but loving-kindness shall surround him who trusts in the Lord. R. Eliezer and R. Tanchum said in the name of R. Yirmiyah, Even a wicked person who trusts in Hashem is surrounded by chesed. We see clearly that it does not depend upon the persons lofty spiritual level. Rather it all depends upon the strength of ones bitachon. Even an unworthy person can merit all the divine gifts because of his hope in the Ribono Shel Olam and pure emuna and bitachon.

Wishing everyone a Gut Shabbos!

[1] ' ' ' " " " .

[2] ., .

[3] It seems that someone informed the Oshir that the great tzaddik Reb Zusha had been seen standing by his front door, but had refrained from knocking. The Oshir apparently was worried that perhaps he had in some way slighted the Rebbe and to make amends, he hurried to treat the entire Beis Midrash to a seudah.

[4]Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, zt"l, (Nefesh Shimshon, p. 272) also points out the dispute among the Torah authorities as to the dimension of bitachon:

It is well known that there are various opinions among the great authorities regarding the essence of bitachon in Hashem. The Chovos HaLevovos (Shaar Habitachon, chap 3, 4th preface) writes that bitachon means that the person trusts fully and is secure in Hashem Yisborachs great chesed that everything will be good. However, a prerequisite for such bitachon is that he fulfill his obligations towards HaKadosh Baruch Hu and do no sin. Otherwise, how is it possible to trust that everything will be only good if he himself rebels against HaKadosh Baruch Hus authority? Similarly we find the opinion of the Chazon Ish at the beginning of his Sefer Emuna uBitachon: it is a mistake to think that one can trust that everything will be only good.

However, it has been brought down that the Vilna Gaon thought differently. Moreover, in Tehillim (32:10) it says, Many are the sorrows of the wicked; but chesed shall surround him who trusts in the Lord. The Yalkut Shimoni on this possuk comments, Even a rosha who trusts in Hashem is surrounded by chesed.

So too do we find in Midrash Tehillim (25:5):

A certain visitor to the country was picked up by the police and they started beating him. He yelled out to them, Stop hitting me. Im a relative of the king. As soon as they heard this, they left him alone and put him under guard until the morning. In the morning, they brought him before the king. They told the king, We found a relative of yours roaming the streets last night. The king looked at him and said, My son, do you know me? No, he answered. If so, why did you say you are related to me? Please, O King. I am not a relative of yours. However, my lord king, I trusted in you. For if I had not said that, they would have beaten me. The king said to his police, Since he trusted in me, let him go.

We see from here that bitachon is possible even for a rosha. Through his bitachon he elicits Hashems compassion, in spite of the fact that he is not worthy.

Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Rosh Yeshiva
Yeshiva Shaare Chaim.

Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop ? Lakewood).

If you would like to correspond with Rabbi Parkoff please contact him: or 732-325-1257

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