Parshas Shemos-Likkutei Sichos-The definition of Bitachon-Faith or wishful thinking

Parshas Shemos

Bitachon-Trust versus wishful thinking-Understanding its true Avoda and what it can accomplish

(Likkutei Sichos Vol. 36 Sicha 1)

In this week’s Parsha, Parshas Shemos, we learn of Moshe Rabbeinu and his efforts to help the Jewish people. Scripture tells us that one day Moshe went out to the street and saw an Egyptian man hitting a Jewish man, and to save the Jewish man Moshe smote the Egyptian men and killed him. The next day, when Moshe again went out to the street, he saw two Jewish men fighting, and in his attempts to separate them one of the men told him, “do you plan on killing me like you killed the Egyptian.” The verse states that when Moshe heard this he became filled with fright, and indeed when Pharaoh afterwards discovered what Moshe had done he tried to kill Moshe. In this talk the Rebbe discusses the cause of Moshe’s fear and the reason for why he didn’t have trust in G-d that nothing would happen to him. This question ignites a fiery essay discussing the essence of the mitzvah of Bitachon, trusting in G-d. What does trust mean? Does it simply mean that one should trust that whatever happens to him is G-d’s will, and certainly is in his best interest, or should one trust in G-d that G-d will save him from him from all his worries and problems in a good and revealed way and nothing bad will ever happen to him? Is the Mitzvah of Bitachon essentially an exercise in one belief in Hashgacha Pratis that everything that G-d does is for the best, or it is its own unique Avoda? Seemingly, there is no basis for one to have trust in G-d that G-d will always give the person the matter that he is trusting in him for, as not always does a person know what’s in his best interest, and not always is one deserving of receiving what he wants. On the other hand, simply trusting that G-d knows what’s best for you even if the outcome ends up being bad, can leave you in a state of fear and trepidation which is the opposite of the concept of security, Bitachon. Let us discover what the Rebbe has to say.

 

Explorations of the Sicha:

1.      Why did Yaakov and Moshe fear being killed despite the fact that G-d had promised them their safety?

2.      Is it possible for sinful behavior to forfeit receiving divine blessing even if one was guaranteed by G-d that he would receive it?

3.      What is the difference between Emuna and Bitachon?

4.      Does the attribute of Bitachon mean that the person trusts that G-d will actually save him from his problem, or simply that he trusts that even if he is not saved from his problem, that it is all in the hands of G-d and for his best?

5.      Under which basis can one trust in G-d that everything will be good, if sinful behavior rightfully deserves consequences, and perhaps is exactly the reason for why he faces the issue that he has?

6.      Can one achieve true trust of G-d without repenting for sinful behavior, or is general Teshuvah a prerequisite for any form of true Bitachon in Hashem?

7.      Should one trust in G-d to help him also when faced with spiritual struggles or is that all dependent on the person himself and his free choice?

8.      Must one exert physical effort to escape his troubles even if he has complete trust?

 

  1. Moshe becomes fearful after it is discovered that he smote the Egyptian man:

When Moshe famously confronted the two Jews who were fighting, one of them said to him, “do you plan on killing me like you killed the Egyptian?” The verse[1] states that when Moshe heard this “Vayira Moshe Vayomar Achen Noda Hadavar/he became filled with fright, and he said that indeed the matter has become known.” In the next verse it states that, “Pharaoh heard about what had happened and desired to kill Moshe and Moshe fled from Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian.”

Rashi in his commentary on the words “and Moshe feared” gives two interpretations as to the cause of his fear. The first interpretation follows the simple understanding, that Moshe feared being prosecuted for putting the Egyptian man to death. However, in the second interpretation Rashi explains based on the Midrash[2] that Moshe feared that the Jewish people would no longer be meritorious to be redeemed from Egypt, as he has now discovered that there are evil Jews and informers living amongst them.

Seemingly, the necessity for Rashi to bring the additional interpretation [in light of his custom not to bring midrashim unnecessarily], is in order to explain why Scripture felt the need to tell us of the fear of Moshe. According to the first interpretation, it is not understood why Moshe did not initially run away if he feared being prosecuted for the murder of the Egyptian man and waited until he was arrested by Pharaoh and almost killed. Therefore, Rashi brings the second interpretation. Nonetheless, being that there is room to understand the fear as literal, therefore Rashi brings both interpretations.

Now, let us ponder according to the first interpretation, as to the reason why Scripture would want us to know that Moshe became fearful for his life when he learned that there were Jewish informers who may get him in trouble. What is the divine message of informing us of this matter? To discover this, we must first explore other areas in Scripture in which a person’s fear is discussed.

  1. The fear of Yaakov from his brother Esav:

The verse[3] states regarding Yaakov that when he discovered that his brother Esav was coming towards him in battle, “And Yaakov became very fearful and bothered by his conscious.” The Midrash[4] expounds on this verse as follows: There were two people who G-d promised them [safety] but they nevertheless feared [for their safety]. The first was the choicest of our forefathers, Yaakov, whom G-d had promised that He will be with him [and save him from any harm][5], and in the end, he nevertheless feared being killed, as stated in the above verse. The second individual who feared unnecessarily was the choicest of the prophets, Moshe, whom G-d had promised that He will be with him[6], but in the end feared [from being killed by Og] and had to therefore be strengthened once again not to fear him.[7]

  1. Is the fear of Yaakov and Moshe viewed as praiseworthy or as an error and wrongdoing?

We find an interesting debate in the commentators of the above Midrash regarding if the intent of the Midrash is to mention the fear of Yaakov and Moshe as a positive matter which is worthy of praise, or as a negative matter which is worthy of disdain. Some commentators[8] explain that the Midrash is coming to sing the praises of Yaakov and Moshe, that they were so humble that even after G-d promised them to keep them safe, they still feared for their safety being that perhaps they have sinned against G-d and are no longer befitting of the promise.[9] However, other commentators[10] explain that the Midrash is coming to teach us that what Yaakov and Moshe did was incorrect and that we should not follow in their footsteps in this regard, as when G-d promises something, one must have complete faith in G-d that the promise will come to fruition.

What exactly are these commentators arguing over? Why does the second opinion not consider the fear of Yaakov and Moshe as praiseworthy, and as an expression of humility? Isn’t it only natural and normal for a righteous person who is very meticulous in the service of G-d to fear that he has sinned and erred in some way? To understand this matter we must first introduce a general question on the subject of Bitachon, having trust in G-d.

  1. A general question on Bitachon:

One of the famous tenants of Judaism is the concept of trust in G-d, of which we are instructed and commanded in numerous verses of Scripture[11], and as expounded on in various works of Mussar.[12] Now, there is a general question as to the essence of what is being commanded of us. What is the definition of Bitachon, what are trusting in G-d to make occur, and what are we expected to do to achieve it? While the end goal of Bitachon is self-understood in its name, which is that a person is not worried or nervous about anything due to his absolute trust in G-d, the question that needs to be explored is with regards to what are we trusting in G-d to do for us, and what the basis is for such trust? We will first solidify the concept that Bitachon means complete trust to the point of tranquility and then address the above questions.

  1. Bitachon means to trust G-d to the point of tranquility:

The difference between Emuna and Bitachon is that Emuna refers simply to a belief, which does not necessarily secure one from having a turmoil of emotions and anxiety regarding a given issue. However, the term Bitachon means security, which emphasizes that one is tranquil due to his belief in G-d. For example, a person may believe that G-d has the capability of giving him a salvation from a certain problem that he is facing, however, this does not mean that he trusts that G-d will actually do so for him and therefore he may remain skeptical and worried about his issue. However, Bitachon means that one trusts in G-d to the point that he is absolutely convinced that G-d will save him from the issue he faces to the point that he feels no worry and anxiety whatsoever about the issue, and is completely relaxed about it. As explained in Chovos Halevavos[13], “The essence of Bitachon is the tranquility of the soul of the person trusting, and that his heart relies on the person he is trusting in that he will do the good and proper in the matter that he is trusting in him for.”

What remains to be understood regarding the above, is as to the reason that one should feel so self-assured that G-d will do as the person trusts Him to do. What is the foundation of this absolute faith and security that G-d will certainly save him from the issue that he is facing? If even when G-d personally promises something to an individual it is possible that the sins of the individual can cause the promise to be forfeited [as evident from the fear and worry of Yaakov and Moshe], then certainly if G-d has not personally promised one anything, there is no certainty that good will befall him, as perhaps he is deserving of severities befalling him due to his sin r”l. Hence, there does not seem to be any basis to believe with certainty that G-d will do good for him. If even the most righteous of men such as Yaakov and Moshe worried that perhaps they have sinned and have therefore forfeited G-d’s security, all the more should a regular individual who is certainly guilty of sinful behavior, be worried that he too has forfeited G-d’s security.

  1. Perhaps the definition of Bitachon is simply to trust that G-d knows best:

It is possible to explain the attribute of Bitachon in the following manner:[14] Indeed, it is not possible to trust in G-d that G-d will provide Him with only revealed good, and that G-d will fulfill all of one’s desires and passions and remove from him all of his sources of worry. There is no basis for such a type of trust being that it is possible that one is undeserving of such revealed good, due to sin or due to not having enough merits. What then is the attribute of Bitachon that provides the person with security? It is the belief that everything that happens to a person is directly from G-d and decided solely by Him. Thus, while one is facing a problem and worry, it is not because foreign entities have power over him G-d forbid, but rather simply because G-d decided for this to occur. Now, since everything that G-d does is for the best, and is in truth in the person’s best interest in the long scheme of things, one is therefore tranquil that even in this matter of perceived suffering, he is in the hands of G-d and is being taken care of. The tranquility that he has is based on the following argument he makes: If I am not deserving for any harm to occur to me, then certainly G-d will save me from my problem even if there is no natural escape from it, being that G-d is the master of nature and is not limited to any natural order, and therefore I have no reason to worry about it. Now, if I am deserving of this punishment, I will still remain tranquil being that I know that the matter which is causing me to worry is simply a messenger from G-d, and I have no reason to intrinsically fear it at all and should rather direct my fear to G-d himself. Furthermore, even G-d Himself is only doing this to me for my benefit to cleanse me from my sins, and therefore there is no reason for me to worry at all, as it is all in G-d’s hands. By one making peace with the possibility of the negative outcome, he reaches a state of tranquility.

According to the above perspective, it is possible for one to have absolute trust in G-d and be in a state of tranquility, despite knowing that he may be deserving of punishment due to his sins and that he may not actually be saved from his troubles. Based on this, one can explain that the lack of trust expressed by Yaakov and Moshe in them fearing being killed, was not necessarily the fact that they feared their imminent death, but the fact that they did not make peace with the idea of their possible death due to their trust that everything is in the hands of G-d and that he does everything for a person’s best. While Yaakov and Moshe were certainly justified in pondering the possibility of their death, there was no reason for them to fear it being that it is all in the hands of G-d.

  1. The issue with the above explanation-Bitachon means to trust that revealed good will happen even if undeserving:

There is a general issue with the above explanation and perspective. The simple interpretation of the attribute of Bitachon in which we are commanded, is not simply the state of tranquility [which as we explained can be achieved also with the above perspective], but also that one trusts that actual revealed good will occur to him and that G-d will certainly save him from his problem.[15] According to the previous interpretation, this most basic form of trust is not applicable to the majority of Jews who have reason to worry that perhaps their sins have forfeited their blessings. According to the previous interpretation, only the select Jews that are completely righteous to the point that they don’t believe they have any sins, can be instructed to fulfill the simplest form of Bitachon to trust that G-d will for certain give them good in a revealed state. [The Torah however speaks to the majority, and hence certainly one cannot accept the position that the main attribute of Bitachon is only relevant for the complete righteous individual and not for the regular Jew. This is aside for the second issue mentioned below in which we question the premises of achieving tranquility without trusting that G-d will bring him revealed good. Hence, we must conclude that even a regular Jew is instructed to have trust in G-d, that G-d will give him revealed good and save him from his worries, even if he is undeserving due to his sins.]

The negation of the previous perspective can be proven from the words of the Chovos Halevavos who writes[16], “One has trust in G-d that He is the epitome of kindness and is benevolent to those who are befitting of it, and even to those who are not, nevertheless he will act with them with never ending kindness.” This proves that the aspect of sin is not a factor in one’s form of Bitachon, and that one trusts that G-d will do him good and kindness whether he is sinful or not, and whether he deserves punishment or not. [This is also proven from many other sources brought in the footnote.[17]]

 

It’s not possible to always be tranquil if one entertains the thought that possibly G-d will not save him from his worries:

An additional issue with the above interpretation of Bitachon is the fact that it seems to be sometimes asking for the impossible. If G-d forbid a person’s close relative is deathly ill, how could he possibly be expected to be tranquil as if nothing is happening, if he knows that it is possible that G-d indeed decided for this person to pass away due to one reason or another. If one places absolute trust in G-d that G-d will certainly help the person survive, then all of his reasons of worry are over. If, however, he follows the former approach to entertain the possibility that indeed G-d will take his life and that there is no basis to trust that G-d will for certain help him to survive, then how on earth is he to be tranquil about his relative’s possible death? Does not the Torah itself instruct us in laws of mourning and in how to deal with pain and anguish? The Torah does not negate these feelings, and on the contrary, in its laws of mourning gives us therapeutic methods which allow these feelings to run their course and eventually reach closure. According to the previous interpretation of Bitachon, we are being asked to completely close up any feeling of anguish that one may have due to the possibility of a relative’s death r”l, due to his trust that the death was summoned by G-d and that everything that G-d does is for the best. If this philosophy is not realistic for one in mourning, and on the contrary, one who does not emotionally mourn the death of a relative is considered cruel, then why should it apply before the relative’s death. If one needs to be stricken with active pain after the relative dies, then how can this feeling be denied from him prior to the death under the basis that everything that G-d does is for the best, which is a basis that continues after the death as well. Accordingly, it is not possible to say that one can reach tranquility from his worries due to his Bitachon, unless he actually trusts that G-d will certainly help the relative get better.

 

The question, however, that remains on this perspective is as to the basis of one’s certainty of G-d’s kindness, despite the fact that he has sins that may need rectification through punishments and consequences. In other words, while certainly the person can argue to himself that it is possible that due to G-d’s great mercy, that G-d will save him from his troubles despite him being undeserving due to his sins, how can he rest assured that this will indeed be the case, and that G-d will not go through with the punishment to cleanse him from his sins. One of the tenets of Judaism is reward and punishment, and to trust that G-d will never punish you because He is very benevolent and merciful seemingly erases the whole concept of punishment for sin, and makes a mockery of the retribution that is slated to be given for sinful behavior.

To understand the answer to this query we must first introduce a well-known statement of the Tzemach Tzedek regarding thinking positive.

  1. Think good and it will be good

The above can be understood through first introducing the statement of the Tzemach Tzedek regarding thinking positive. The Tzemach Tzedek[18] once replied to an individual who begged him to arouse divine mercy for a deathly ill relative r”l, that he should think positive and then the outcome will be positive. In the Yiddish original, “Tracht Gut Vet Zaiyn Gut.” The implication of this statement is that the mere positive thinking, which is the trust that one places in G-d that G-d will help the individual survive, is the catalyst and reason for why indeed G-d will bring the matter to a good resolution in a revealed way, and in the above example help the deathly ill patient survive. Now, why should mere positive thinking merit one to receive good results even if he is undeserving of them due to sin and the like? This is what we will explore next.

  1. True Bitachon is a great challenge to achieve and thus merits to draw down the salvation:

The mitzvah and attribute of Bitachon is not merely a byproduct of one’s belief that everything is in the hands of heaven and that G-d is merciful, as if so, then there would be no need to command and instruct us specifically regarding it. Rather, the attribute of Bitachon is a totally independent service of G-d that is not accomplished with simple belief that everything is in G-d’s hands and that G-d is merciful. The service of Bitachon requires that one lean on G-d completely, to the point that he throws his entire future into the hands of G-d and does not make any calculations as to the chances of him being saved from his worries. Meaning that he completely feels that his entire future rests solely in the hands of G-d, and not on anyone else, similar to a slave who was thrown into a pit by his master[19], and relies only on his master to take him out and not anything else. Thus, even if there is no natural way that one can think of for one to escape his troubles, he still retains the same level of trust that G-d who is not limited by nature will save him. The ability to achieve such trust to the point that one is no longer worried about the issue due to his absolute faith in G-d, is a matter of such great spiritual toil and achievement, that this itself is what will merit him to deserve G-d’s kindness even if he is unbefitting.

[In other words, Bitachon is not achieved by the person relaxing on his couch and continuing his life as usual as if nothing is going on, and throwing off any responsibility for what is happening due to his complete trust that G-d is good and merciful and therefore everything will work out. Such a person is indeed guilty of wishful thinking, and being completely irresponsible in stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for a punishment that he may very well deserve. Bitachon, is not a get off the hook joker card that anyone can use prior to facing a challenge to easily escape responsibility for his actions, and escape facing the consequences that may very realistically follow. Rather, true Bitachon requires deep emotional toil and work in self-improvement in one’s relationship with G-d and in him making that relationship a reality that he feels in his conscious mind on a constant basis. Bitachon is achieved by one first having the realization that due to his sins it is truly possible that he will not be saved from his troubles, despite G-d’s good nature and mercy, unless he works on his relationship with Hashem, and makes his relationship with G-d be so strong and realistic to the point that he views everything in his life to be in G-d’s hands, and that he can trust Him without any inkling of a doubt.]

Reaching this level of Bitachon requires daily mental and emotional toil until it is achieved, and one who does this great divine service has now indeed created a reason for why G-d will not go through with the punishment. In other words, through a person using the troubles that he is facing to motivate him to rebuild his relationship with G-d, and he indeed rebuilds his relationship to the point that he feels completely safe with G-d and that G-d loves him and protects him and will save him from all harm, this itself arouses within G-d the desire to act with him likewise and give him revealed good even if he is truly undeserving.[20]

This is the true intent of the above statement of the Tzemach Tzedek that by thinking good things will be good. It is not telling the person to simply ignore his problem and continue life as usual without making any changes, but rather that he is to work on his trust in G-d to the point that he rests assured that G-d will save him from his issue and in that merit, G-d will indeed do so. [In other words, the Rebbe here negates a mistaken interpretation of the above statement of the Tzemach Tzedek, which can simply be viewed to mean that positive thinking alone suffices to solve the problem. The Rebbe here explains that in truth this alone does not suffice, and it is only if the positive thinking comes with toil in the form of having absolute Bitachon in Hashem that it can truly bring the salvation from G-d. This is further emphasized in the Tzemach Tzedek’s own words in Or Hatorah.]

Sources in Rishonim that the trust in G-d is itself what draws down the salvation:

This idea that it is the trust itself which draws down the salvation from G-d even if one is truly unworthy of it due to his sins, is explicitly found in the words of Scripture and the works of the Rishonim. The Sefer Ikkarim[21] writes based on the verse in Tehillim[22], “Haboteiach ba’Hashem Chesed Yesovivenhu/One who trusts in G-d is surrounded by kindness,” that even if the person is not intrinsically meritorious, through his trust he can draw down the kindness of G-d.” Elsewhere he writes, that if one were to trust in G-d properly that he would not be withheld from G-d’s kindness. Likewise, in the Sefer Kad Hakemach of Rabbeinu Bechayeh[23], it explicitly states that “one who trusts in G-d will be saved from his matter of worry in reward for his trust, even if the suffering was the fitting to fall upon him.” This idea is similarly brought in many other Rishonim and Achronim.[24] A similar concept to this we find also in Tanya[25] where the Alter Rebbe states that Emuna in Hashem and that everything that He does is for the good, draws down that everything will be good in a revealed way.

 

The explanation of the Tzemach Tzedek in Or Hatorah:[26]

In Or Hatorah, the Tzemach Tzedek lengthens on the explanation of the mitzvah of Bitachon and its essential proponents, which sheds much light to this talk of the Rebbe, and puts the above statement said in his name in the proper perspective. He explains there that the word Bitachon comes from the word Ticha which represents an intense and powerful attachment. The service of Bitachon requires that one strengthens his soul with such intense trust in God that he is certain that God will fulfill his request. This toil of trust is written throughout the book of Tehillim, and is likewise written in the book of Shaareiy Teshuvah of Rabbeinu Yonah 3:32, that if one sees a matter of suffering approaching him he should trust in God that God will bring salvation. Now, the root of this trust is the great and intense love and fear that one arouses for God similar to a man who places trust in his friend due to the love that they share. The main catalyst of this trust is the intensity of the love that is between them, as due to this love, one knows that his friend will not betray him. If, however, the love is not very strong then likewise the trust will not be that strong either.

 

 

A deeper perspective:

The purpose of every punishment is to cleanse a person and bring him to a level of greater heights in his relationship with G-d. Now, this can be achieved through punishment itself, or through the person taking responsibility for the problem that G-d is challenging him with, to on his own reshape his relationship with Him and not wait for the punishment to come to help them do so. When a person places the effort to work on his Bitachon in Hashem, and in the process completely reforms his relationship with G-d as a result, then he has already fulfilled the purpose of the punishment and the punishment is no longer necessary.

 

  1. Must one also do general Teshuvah for his sins together with his Bitachon in order to merit the salvation?[27]

According to the above explanation that Bitachon in G-d is something that takes much toil and effort, and represents a total change in one’s relationship with G-d in that he makes G-d’s existence a total reality for him, it goes without saying that a byproduct of this change is also that one repents for his sins. How could a Jew feel totally secure in G-d’s hands, and feel totally worthy of his love and protection, when he knows that he is continuing to sin against Him and not follow His ways, and therefore, we must say that true Bitachon can only be achieved if one does a general repentance for his ways. In the words of the Chovos Halevavos[28], “The person trusting in G-d must fulfill that which G-d obligates him in his service in order so the creator can agree to that which he is trusting in.” The intent of this statement is to say that it is not possible to truly trust in G-d while simultaneously rebelling against him, as he explains there later on. [This is likewise emphasized in the words of the Tzemach Tzedek in Or Hatorah ibid, that the basis of the trust is the love that they share, and when man loves G-d he surely will not sin against him.]

[This perspective answers a number of questions that otherwise would be raised. If Bitachon alone can bring salvation from one’s problems, then it’s possible for a person to knowingly transgress all the sins, and simply work on his attribute of Bitachon to save him from punishment. Sin all that you want and simply have faith in G-d that he will not do anything to you, in order to circumvent any punishment. Is this really a Torah perspective? Did G-d give us a way to circumvent punishment for bad behavior without repenting it? Certainly, this is an unacceptable position in Judaism, and therefore one must conclude as above that the new relationship that one forms with G-d due to his trust in him itself requires as a prerequisite that the person repent from his ways, as otherwise his trust will be meritless, and he will not feel secure in it knowing that he doesn’t deserve it. Thus, true trust can only be accomplished if he does Teshuvah for sins and places effort to improve his behavior. Furthermore, a byproduct of true trust is that he will on his own desire to improve his behavior due to his love for G-d, His savior, whom he absolutely trusts in without any doubt.]

  1. Must one exert physical effort despite his Bitachon, and if so how much?

Together with one’s absolute faith and trust in G-d he must also exert all physical options available to him, to help save him from his worries. As is well known, there is no contradiction between trusting in G-d and doing one’s Hishtadlus of finding natural ways of solving his predicament. It is only the great Tzadikim who are not required to make physical effort to solve their issues that may rely on simple faith in G-d alone, [as explained in the Sicha of Parshas Vayeishev].

  1. Does Bitachon remove the power from G-d to be able to punish?

The above conclusion that absolute trust in G-d guarantees salvation, raises the question of whether it literally removes from G-d the power to go through with his plans. What if G-d truly wants the person to receive the intended suffering and already decreed it As a punishment to the individual, and is in his best benefit, can Bitachon circumvent even G-d himself and take away his power to go through with this decision? So, the Baal Shem Tov[29] answer this question by stating that when Hashem desires to punish someone who is fit for punishment he simply remove from him the ability to accomplish and achieve true Bitachon, and without true Bitachon he will not be able to draw down the salvation.

 

Davening to Hashem to grant one the attribute of Bitachon:[30]

In light of the above possibility for Hashem to remove one’s ability of Bitachon, one should accustom himself to pray to Hashem to merit him with the Mida of Bitachon, in order to be successful in drawing down the Divine blessing.

 

  1. The lesson we learn from the fear of Moshe and his close call to death:

Based on all the above, we can now explain the purpose of Scripture relating to us the fear and lack of trust that was expressed by Moshe, according to the opinion who understands this to have been a mistake on their part. It is coming to teach us this very important lesson regarding trusting G-d, that if one works on his relationship and trust in G-d to the point that he feels absolutely secure that G-d will save him, then he will indeed be saved of his problems. However, if his trust is lacking and he fears that perhaps G-d will not save him, then this itself can cause him to not be saved, as it was with Moshe that after he feared being killed Scripture tells us that he was then caught by Pharaoh and sentenced to death. If Moshe would have trusted completely in G-d, this would not have occurred, and the matter would have been forgotten and ended in a good way.

  1. Trusting in G-d also regarding spiritual matters:

Part of the lesson that one should learn from the above, is that when a person is faced with challenges in spiritual matters of fulfilling Torah and Mitzvos, then too, he is required to work on his trust in G-d. If after exhausting all efforts to help himself, he has absolute trust in G-d that G-d will help him, to the point he feels absolutely tranquil about the issue, then indeed this will be the case, and all of the spiritual setbacks and hindrances will be nullified.

The above also applies regarding trusting in G-d that he will bring the redemption, as just as we find regarding the redemption from Egypt that it was in merit of our trust in G-d[31], so too it will be regarding the final redemption, that our trust in G-d to redeem us will merit its immediate fruition.

 

Summary of true Bitachon that accomplishes salvation according to the Sicha:

According to the above talk, for Bitachon to accomplish salvation from one’s cause of suffering one must fulfill all three of the following conditions:

  1. One must toil in his relationship with G-d until he feels secure in His love to the point that he trusts completely that G-d will save him and therefore does not worry at all about the potential outcome.
  2. One changes his ways and repents his sins to the best of his ability.
  3. One exerts all physical efforts available to him to try to bring the salvation.

 

Q&A’s on the Sicha

Should one do actions that prepare for the eventuality of a negative outcome? Such as if one is sick, should he write a will and prepare his family for the eventuality of death?

Seemingly, there is no contradiction in one’s Bitachon if he takes steps which prepare for the eventuality of a negative outcome, the same way that one’s trust in the coming of Moshiach should not prevent him from investing energy in matters which will not be relevant when the Moashiach comes. At the same time that one has absolute faith in G-d that he will save him, he should also make necessary preparations for a potential negative outcome. Thus, if a person is suffering from a deathly illness r”l, him and his relatives should not ignore the possibility of death occurring and they should do everything necessary to prepare for the eventuality of death, such as to write a will and instruct one’s family and the like with both physical and spiritual parting messages, as did both Yitzchak and Yaakov our forefathers. In the case of young children who may potentially become orphans G-d forbid, the orphans should be mentally prepared as much as possible, together with them being strengthened to have absolute faith. This type of behavior was vividly seen to be followed by the Alter Rebbe, who a mere day before his release from prison sent a letter to his family in which he prepared them for the possibility of his death, if the will of G-d was for him not to survive G-d forbid.[32] Perhaps, one can suggest, that this preparation is part of the steps to be taken before one reaches total trust in G-d, and the realization of the seriousness of his predicament to the point that he must prepare for its negative outcome, may be the motivating factor to propel him to rehabilitate his relationship with G-d to the point of absolute trust. May Hashem save all of us from any such predicaments!

[1] Shemos 2:14

[2] Tanchuma Shemos 10; Shemos Raba 1:30

[3] Vayishlach 32:8

[4] Bereishis Raba 76

[5] Vayeitzei 28:15

[6] Shemos 3:12

[7] Chukas 21:34

[8] Pirush Aba in Or Hasechel on Bereishis Raba ibid; Akeida Vayishlach 26

[9] See Brachos 4a; Rashi Vayishlach 32:11; Tanya Igeres Hakodesh 2

[10] Yifei Toar on Bereishis Raba ibid; Or Hasechel ibid

[11] Tehillim 37:3; 115:9

[12] See Chovos Halevavos Shaar Habitachon 1; Reishis Chochmah Shaar Ha’ahava 12; Shaareiy Teshuvah of Rabbeinu Yona 3:32 that it is included in the command in Shoftim 20:1 not to fear the enemy during war.

[13] Chovos Halevavos Shaar Habitachon 1

[14] This first suggestive perspective of the Rebbe in the Sicha is indeed the perspective of the Chazon Ish in Emuna Ubitachon chapter 2 in which he explains this to be the true meaning of the Mitzvah of Bitachon, and completely negates the explanation brought next by the Rebbe. This perspective of the Chazon Ish is negated by the Rishonim, Achronim, Sifrei Mussar and Gedolei Yisrael of even Lithuanian Jewry, as will be explained next.

[15] See Emuna Ubitachon chapter 2 of Chazon Ish who writes that this is the traditional perspective of Bitachon held by many, even though he then goes on to negate it.

[16] Shaar Habitachon Chapter 2 7th reason and Chapter 3 1st Hakdama 6th matter; See also there end of chapter 1

[17] See Brachos 60a that Hillel trusted in Hashem that the scream was not coming from his home. According to the previous perspective, this trust of Hillel has no basis. See also Rabbeinu Yona in his commentary on Mishlei 3:6; Maharal based on Menachos 29b; Tzemach Tzedek in Or Hatorah Parshas Vaeira p. 22a; Malbim; Chafetz Chaim in name of Gr”a in Kuntrus Nefutzos Yisrael chapter 8 in which they all make clear that one has absolute trust that G-d will save one from his worries and that it is the trust itself which draws down the salvation from God, even if one is unbefitting due to sin. Thus, the first perspective brought above is completely negated by classic Jewish literature, and hence the position of the Chazon Ish to negate this approach and embrace the previous perspective, was not the traditional perspective of Gedolei Yisrael from current and many previous generations. Accordingly, even many Jews of Lithuanian Jewry do not accept the above position of the Chazon Ish, and Rav Binyamin Zilber z”l stated that the letter of the Chazon Ish on this matter is unreliable, and was written in his very young age. Also in Yeshivas Kefar Chassidim, the Mahsgiach Rav Eliyahu Lopian would discourage his students from learning from this Sefer. [See Lev Eliyahu Bereishis Hakdama p. 50]

[18] See Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz 2:537; 7:197

[19] See Chovos Halevavos Chapter 2 Hasiba Hashishis; 3 Hakdama 1 Inyan Chamishi

[20] Based on this explanation we can understand a puzzling matter that we find in the diary of the Rebbe Rayatz of his imprisonment. The Rebbe seems to express feelings of doubt of whether he will be saved and seems to be struggling with his Bitachon until he eventually reached a true trust in God that he will be saved. [See Likkutei Dibburim letter 16-17 in the Diary] One can argue based on the above that the Rebbe’s initial struggle with his trust was all part of the process of reaching the complete trust that brought the eventual salvation.

[21] Ikkarim 4:46 and 47

[22] Kad Hakemach 32:10

[23] Erech Bitachon

[24] See Rabbeinu Yona in his commentary on Mishlei 3:6; Maharal Nesivos Olam Nesiv Habitachon, based on Menachos 29b; Malbim on Tehillim 33:21; Chafetz Chaim in name of Gr”a in Kuntrus Nefutzos Yisrael chapter 8. All these sources make it clear that it is the trust itself which draws down the salvation from God, even if one is unbefitting due to sin.

[25] Igeres Hakodesh 11, brought in Likkutei Sichos ibid footnote 43

[26] Parshas Vaeira p. 22a

[27] See Likkutei Sichos ibid footnote 35

[28] chapter 3 introduction 4

[29] Keser Shem Tov 382, brought in Likkutei Sichos ibid footnote 40

[30] Keser Shem Tov 113; Toldos Yaakov Yosef Mishpatim 56b

[31] Kad Hakemach in end

[32] See Igros Kodesh Admur Haszakein letter 127

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