Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

Weekly Chizuk


You Can't Trust Anything Except Hashem

Based on Alei Shur, vol. II, 4:1, by Rav Shlomo Wolbe, zt"l.

We live in a pretty secure world. Our educational system is all set up. A system for our securing an income is all arranged. In general we have an entire medical structure to oversee our general health. The various government agencies oversee the economic, national, international, and security issues. The Judicial sector (police and court system) and the various social services concern themselves with guaranteeing a balanced and suitably functioning social order.

True, there are a myriad of problems from which we are not secure. However, we have the mechanisms in place to protect us from them; and if they occur, we have the means to lessen the discomfort or damage generated. Only in extremely rare cases will we experience a major catastrophe when we stand powerless and impotent: revolutions, wars, national disasters, and (last but not least) death.

Otherwise, we feel pretty secure in the daily routine into which we were born.

What throws a drop of bitterness into this feeling of security and instructs us not to trust any of this? Emuna!

Emuna tells us: "I returned and saw under the sun, that the race does not belong to the swift, nor the war to the mighty; neither do the wise have bread, nor do the clever have riches, nor the knowledgeable, favor; for time and fate will overtake them all" (Koheles 9:11).

"Shir Hamaalos to Shlomo. If the Lord will not build a house, its builders have toiled in vain; if the Lord will not guard a city, [its] watcher keeps his vigil in vain" (Tehillim 127:1).

"So says the Lord: Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strong-arm, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He shall be like a lone tree in the plain, and will not see when good comes, and will dwell on parched land in the desert, on salt-sodden soil that is not habitable" (Yirmiyah 17:5-6).

Take all the natural occurrences which were so simple and self-evident. A person trusts in himself and in others; the builder builds, the guardsman stands guard, and the capable individual succeeds. Along comes emuna and says to us, "Don't trust it!"

The Torah warns us, "Lest you eat and be sated, and build good houses and dwell therein, and your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold increase, and all that you have increases… Lest you will say to yourself, "My strength and the might of my hand has accumulated this wealth for me. But you must remember the Lord your G-d, for it is He that gives you strength to make wealth…." (Devorim 8:12-18).

If you are successful, you must realize, that you didn't do anything. You have no ability at all to succeed. It wasn't that you was smarter than everyone else. Your insights and ideas which brought about your success came from Hakadosh Baruch Hu. He put the ideas in your head. Not only can you not trust anyone else, you cannot trust yourself!

So if I can't trust myself, who can I trust?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely upon your understanding" (Mishle 3:5).

Rabbeinu Yona comments on this statement of Shlomo Hamelech. "Your trust in Hashem has to be real and with a full heart. You should no doubts about your bitachon. Perfect bitachon means to trust in Hashem and not in any person. Not in your own abilities, and not in your mental faculties or cleverness. And since so many have made the mistake of trusting in their own acumens, therefore the possuk focuses on this more than trust in one's wealth or power. When a person sees that his plans were successful, and all his strategies are on target, his trust in Heaven becomes weakened. He forgets that everything is Heaven sent. As the Navi Yeshaya said (44:25) 'He turns the wise backwards, and makes their knowledge foolish.' This is also written in Mishlei (16:1) 'The thoughts of the heart are man's, but the answer of the tongue is from Hashem.' This informs us that even what a person speaks is not in his control, even though he does the talking."

This Rabbeinu Yona has to be studied more deeply. Doesn't a person have to think? Isn't He supposed to understand what's happening around him and figure out what to do? The answer is true, but he shouldn't rely on his own ingenuity; he should trust in Hashem. The question is how to combine one's cleverness with bitachon without missing the mark.

This brings us to the basic essence of bitachon. Some thoughts emanate out of a viewpoint of closeness to one's Creator, and some thoughts emanate from a distance. This situation of either closeness or distance alters one's basic perceptions. A standpoint of closeness enables a person to see the facts totally differently than one coming from a distance.

Let us take as an example the incident of the meraglim. Calev said, "We can surely go up and take possession of it (Eretz Yisroel), for we can indeed overcome it," while the meraglim said, "We are unable to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we." The meraglim announced, "The land we passed through to explore is a land that consumes its inhabitants, and all the people we saw in it are men of stature." Yehoshua and Calev, on the other hand, said, "The land we passed through to scout is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord desires us, He will bring us to this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. But you shall not rebel against the Lord, and you will not fear the people of that land for they are [as] our bread. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them."

Yehoshua and Calev saw the same country that the meraglim saw, but they saw it from a vantage point of closeness to Hashem. They trusted in Hashem that they would be able to conquer the land. The meraglim, however, had become slightly weaker in their relationship with the Creator. Thus they saw the same land and its inhabitants from a viewpoint of distance. Thus they understood, "They are stronger than us." Yehoshua and Calev trusted fully on Hashem, while the meraglim relied on their own grasp of what they had seen without bitachon.

Now, both Yehoshua and Calev used their minds to understand. A person must think. But they understood through the lenses of their bitachon, which is the right way to think.

A person has to develop within himself the vantage point of closeness to Hashem, in order to properly decipher what he sees, and what he thinks.

Gut Shabbos!

© Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel
Tel: 732-858-1257
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, or change your subscription, please contact:

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel