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Weekly Chizuk

Days of Judgment

Run in Fear From Him, To Him

' :( :)

Come and let us return to the Lord, for He has torn and He shall heal us; He smites, and He will bind us up. (Hoshea 6:1)

This is a most amazing possuk. Come Yidden do Teshuva! Why, because Hashem has smitten us. He has torn us apart. But He heals and binds our wounds. Let's understand this. Let's take an unfortunate occurrence that too many of us have to go through. Everything goes wrong. We feel that our world is being torn out from under our feet. The first feeling we get is anger. Why is Hashem doing this to me? I don't deserve it. Even worse is the person who begins to doubt, maybe there is no Hashem. Everything is just happening because That is probably the worst form of depression, when you don't see any purpose, rhyme or reason in your suffering.

I heard the story of a yeshiva bochur who regularly had to be calmed down by his rabbeim. He would inevitably come with a very complicated and complex scenario that Hashem was out to get him. He would describe down to the minutest details the hashgacha pratis that always worked against him.

This bochur had not yet lost his belief in Hashem. He had a very sharp and vivid sense of emunah. He believed with every fiber of his body in Hashem's direct supervision of the Universe. However, he came to the wrong conclusion: Hashem is out to get me!

What should be our reaction? That's hard to say. However, Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus, zt"l, gives us some direction. In Nefesh Shimshon, Shaare Emuna, pp. 254, 272, he relates a statement he heard from Rav Yoseph Dov Soloveitchik, zt"l, in the name of his father Maran the Brisker Rav, zt"l. The Tur in Orach Chaim at the beginning of Hilchos Rosh Hashana (section 581) poskins that we bathe and take haircuts in honor of the Day of Judgment, based on the following Midrash:

Yisroel are unlike the nations of the world. When they have a court case against them, they wear black because they do not know the outcome of their court case. Yisroel are different. They wear white. And they eat and drink and are happy on Rosh Hashana knowing that HaKadosh Baruch Hu will perform a miracle for them.

This Midrash is problematic. The gemara in Rosh Hashana (32b) states, "Why don't Yisroel recite Hallel on Rosh Hashana? Because when the Books of Life and Books of Death are open, is it possible that Yisroel should sing?" This contradicts the above Midrash of the Tur.

The Brisker Rav, zt"l, resolved this problem based on a famous piyut called Keser Malchus written by R. Shlomo Ibn Gabirol (section 38):


If You will scrutinize my wrongdoing, I will flee from You toward You. And I shall cover myself from Your wrath in Your shade.

The great poet turns to Hashem and says to Him, "If You, HaKadosh Baruch Hu, open the Book of Remembrance and reveal my wrongdoing, where am I going to flee to?" The answer is, "I shall run away from You, to You!" I have where to escape. I shall escape to You. "And I shall cover myself from Your wrath." If Heaven forbid, You decide to pour Your wrath upon me, I have the ability to cover myself, "in Your shade," in the shade of HaKadosh Baruch Hu.

These words are remarkable. When a person is in danger, the only option to save himself is in "Your shade." But all this only works if he is already "running from You." If the person is not afraid, he doesn't run. Consequently, he will never reach Hashem and he has no hope. Both parts are necessary: when there is fear, then there is bitachon. If a person understands the danger and is afraid, then, "I will run from You toward You." This is the reason he has bitachon. However, if the person is certain that nothing will happen to him, there is no reason for him to trust. If he does not feel the danger, there is no reason for him to seek shelter in the shade of Hashem. Therefore, on one hand we do not say Hallel on Rosh Hashana, because of the great fear. And it is specifically because of this, that we wash and take haircuts, because we are certain that HaKadosh Baruch Hu will perform a miracle for us.

Many of us think that bitachon means that a person should not worry about his problems. Everything will be alright. Why? The problems are really huge, and the danger is great! But HaKadosh Baruch Hu is greater, and so the conclusion is that everything is going to be alright.

That is a mistake. As a figure of speech, we can compare this to one who thinks that when we mix fleishigs with milchigs it becomes pareve. Everyone knows how ludicrous this is. Fleishig is fleishig, and milchig is milchig. Fear is fear, it's real!

When there is a problem, it is serious. It has to be dealt with in a serious manner. But a person also has to understand that he has a very powerful tool to deal with the problem, with Hashem's help: tefilla.

Sometimes a person has various problems in health, parnossah, etc. If he understands the seriousness of the situation and turns to Hashem Yisborach, then Hashem will help him. That is bitachon. "In the day when I have fear, I will trust in You" (Tehillim 56:4). The Metzudas Dovid translates this verse: "The day when my fear is great, I will trust in You because You have the ability to save me from everything."

When there is fear, there is bitachon.

And this is the avoda of Elul. = "I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me" (Shir Hashirim 6:3). This is the avoda set out for us during these days of Elul in preparation for the Days of Judgment. Hashem now comes close to us and wants us to find Him. I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me. We run in fear from Him, to Him.

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).
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