22 January 2016

Bitachon, Trust in G–D

Rabbi Pinchas Winston Shlit"a on Parshat, Beshalach
Am Yisrael at the Sea:  

The Jewish people could not defend themselves against the Egyptian army, and they could not cross the sea on a wing and a prayer. What was left?

Bitachon. Trust in God. According to the midrash, by walking into the sea until they could go no further without drowning, the sea split. Thus is the power of bitachon, as the Leshem says:

In truth, nothing stands in the way of bitachon, as it says . . . 
  • “One who trusts in God will be surrounded by kindness” (Tehillim 32:10). (Drushei Olam HaTohu, Chelek 2, Drush 5, Anaf 4, Siman 3)
At the sea, this was certainly the case. The explicit trust of the Jewish people to enter the sea until they could go no further accomplished what the prayer of the great Moshe Rabbeinu could not. The Nefesh HaChaim continues:

This is the meaning of the verse, 
  • “To a steed in Pharaoh’s chariot, I have compared you, My beloved” (Shir HaShirim 1:9). 
In other words, Pharaoh’s horse represented a reversal of the natural order, since normally the driver leads the horse. With respect to Pharaoh and his army however, the horse led the driver, as the rabbis have taught (Shemos Rabbah 23; Shir HaShirim Rabbah 1:50). It is to this [unnatural state of existence] that My beloved is compared and likened. (Nefesh HaChaim, Sha’ar 1, Ch. 9)

As the Nefesh HaChaim explains, the bitachon of the Jewish people at the sea is what created an unnatural occurrence. It is so valuable to God that it can “pay” for miracles far beyond the merit of the person to invoke. It is like asking for $1 million, and having a wealthy person all of sudden offer to guarantee the loan.

Bitachon and calm. The two words go together. Perfectly. There is no true and lasting sense of calm except for that which results from trusting God. Even a disbeliever has to agree that if there is a God, and He is Who He says He is, then He is also the most reliable source of success and security there is.

It’s simple. Man is limited. He can barely control himself. How can he be expected to control the universe and the destiny of people? He tries, and some fool themselves into believing that they have more control in life than they actually do. In the end, it becomes clear that they were wrong.

Sometimes, even deadly wrong.

God, on the other hand, is unlimited. This is part of what makes Him God.
The moment God would be limited in any way He would become like us. He might be a superhuman but a human nonetheless, and less than 100 percent reliable because like us, He too would have weaknesses.

There have been times when those who challenged God at least believed in Him. The sorcerer Bilaam tried to curse God’s people, but he still believed in God.1 Much later in history, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnetzar destroyed God’s Temple and exiled His people, but he too still believed in the Jewish God. 

Even Pharaoh, who at first refused to free the Jewish people, still believed in God. He just didn’t realize at first the extent to which God was prepared to intervene in human history on behalf of the Jewish people. He learned this from the 10 plagues that destroyed his country and the splitting of the sea that washed away his army.

Everything began to change when prophecy ended in the year 3448 from Creation, or 313 BCE. If man is not going to listen to God, then God is not going to talk to man, at least directly. It is a tremendous merit to be able to communicate with God.

Today, so far down the road and so distant from all forms of direct Divine communication, is it even possible to know God that well, well enough to trust in Him? Is it possible to achieve the peace of mind that trust in God is supposed to provide? It says:
  • Trust in God forever, for in God, God is the strength of the worlds. (Yeshayahu 26:4)
  • Those knowing Your Name will trust in You, and You do not forsake those Who seek You. (Tehillim 9:11)
This says that trust in God is supposed to be forever, in every generation and at any time. It says that if a person endeavors to make the effort to achieve bitachon, God will answer him, take care of him, provide for him and grant him peace of mind. As it says,
  • In truth, nothing stands in the way of bitachon, as it says . . . “One who trusts in God will be surrounded by kindness” (Tehillim 32:10). (Drushei Olam HaTohu, Chelek 2, Drush 5, Anaf 4, Siman 3)

From Parshat Beshalach by Rabbi Pinchas Winston Shlit"a

See Bitachon and Emunah from Parshas Bo, last week's Parsha.

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