Good and Better

Now we can understand what Yirmiyah was telling us. “Baruch hagever asher yivtach baHashem” – A person who trusts in Hashem has everything in his life taken care of for him. He doesn’t make himself crazy with effort. He knows his physical and spiritual well-being will be just fine and he lives a life of tranquility.

But Yirmiya’s main point is: “Vvehaya Hashem mivtacho.” That you have on Who to rely. Since Hashem is eternal, bitachon is eternal as well. No matter what happens in the world around you, bitachon is always there and will never fail you.

To illustrate this: Reuven is newly married, and his father-in-law Yaakov agrees to support him financially. Yaakov is a hard-working man who manages to feed his family and can occasionally afford some luxuries. Reuven relies on Yaakov, but in his mind he’s always concerned that maybe his father-in-law won’t be able to continue this arrangement, so he puts money aside now and sometimes worries about the future.

But let’s say that Yaakov was a man of means like Bill Gates. His son-in-law Reuven would never concern himself with financial worries, it would take a tremendous upheaval to bring down Yaakov’s empire!

Certainly someone who relies on Hashem for support has no worries. Hashem is always with us and He has complete control over all resources.

Spinning the Gears

Berel realized one morning that his term paper was due tomorrow! If only he hadn’t pushed it off so long! The topic was “Chinese Rice Production in the early 18th Century.” How was he supposed to research that in only one day?!

Berel skipped school for the day and quickly ran as fast as he could to the library. He frantically scanned the shelf for the book he needed only to find a gaping space where the book belonged!

The librarian informed him that that book would be back next Tuesday. “Next Tuesday!” he cried, “But I need it today!” “Alright,” she said, “There’s another copy in our branch located an hour away, you can try to get that one.” “So how do I get there?” he begged. “I’m sorry, we’re not allowed to give directions,” was her response. After much pleading – and maybe a bit of crying – he had the directions and was on his way.

But soon he was completely lost. A gas station attendant helpfully informed him that the librarian had told him to take the wrong turn and he needed to turn around and head 10 miles the other way! Berel pulled up to the library just as the branch manager was locking the doors. “Please, please, please!” he cried, “I need the book!” The manager acquiesced to his pleas and let him in and he found the book of his desire! What Hashgacha!

He finally arrived home after his long day and cracked open the book. “Chapter 22 – Rice Production in China.” said the index. Chapter 19… 20… 21… 23! Chapter 22 was gone, neatly cut out from the book!!

And then, Berel remembered. Last year Yanky did an excellent report on this exact topic…

Berel dialed Yanky’s number. “Yanky,” Berel asked, “Do you remember the report you did last year?” “Do I!?” Yanky replied. “Sure I do! I got it right out of the book!” (He sure did!) And with that, Berel was able to get the pages he needed to complete his report.

The Alter calls this concept “Gilgul Hasibos.” – “Setting causes into effect.” This idea is similar to turning gears, there is so much effort involved in spinning one gear which moves the other and so on, until the right gear is moved. This is what people do to get their needs met. They work, and try, and work some more until they get what they are after,

Just like Berel, someone without bitachon spends much of his life exerting effort into many different causes hoping that he will achieve success. But in reality, success is in Hashem’s hands and might be right by your doorstep (just like the book was already by Berel’s friend). When you leave things to Hashem, there’s no need for exertion.

The Second Blessing

The second, and more important, blessing in a ba’al bitachon’s life, is that he has a “Derech HaBitachon.” This means that this person’s life is one where he lives bitachon. This is of greater value than of just having your needs met through bitachon.

To illustrate the idea: Josh is the top political adviser in the United States. He has been hired to work on some of the toughest political campaigns, including many senators and even a few presidential candidates. Josh is known for his results. A candidate who has Josh on staff has a serious advantage.

Now, it’s true that Josh takes a hefty fee for his service, but he’s not known by his wealth – he’s known for his skill. The fee is just a fact. It doesn’t detract from his talent. He is the top political adviser whether or not he gets paid!

The same is for someone who has a “Derech HaBitachon,” Of course he has total calmness from not worrying about his needs, but it is much greater that he has a life of bitachon. For such a person, even if a time comes where he seems to be lacking, he still is calm, knowing that things will turn out good as they always do. He is like someone who owns a thriving business. If one day there’s a storm and no customers walk into the store, the owner isn’t worried. This is a successful enterprise! Tomorrow things will improve as always.

(As an aside, the same way becoming a political expert doesn’t happen overnight, attaining the Derech Habitchon doesn’t either. They both require practice – with trial and error – to become an expert.)

No Fears

Even when the world around you is in disarray, when you have bitachon you have nothing to fear. Nothing can ever happen to you if it’s not what Hashem knows is best for you.

During the Russian revolution, there were armies roaming the streets breaking out in sporadic fights. On one Motzei Shabbos, the Alter was standing and making havdalah when gunshots rang through the air. Everyone in the room began to panic and ran for cover. But not the Alter. He remained standing in his place, completely calm, and not even a single drop of wine spilled from his kos! This was his bitachon. If the bullets weren’t meant for him, then he had nothing at all to fear!

This is the first blessing that a ba’al bitachon has. A complete calmness in his life; no worries and no depression. He sees he has what he needs now and knows that he never has to worry about tomorrow. Everything in his life will be taken care of with bitachon.

Be Yourself

When a person relies on others, he loses his sense of self. For example, he makes sure his views are aligned with those of his boss so that he’ll always be on good terms. He feels that he must make sure he’s always conforming if he wants to get a promotion.

A person with bitachon can always be himself; he never has to sell out on his beliefs. Following you true beliefs can never take away from your parnassah, because it comes straight from Hashem!

The fact is clear: It is impossible to add or detract – even a tiny amount – from what was decreed from you. You can be yourself and you will never lose.

Double Blessing

The passuk implies that a ba’al bitachon has double blessings in his life, as it says,”Baruch hagever asher yivtach…” and “vihaya Hashem mivtacho.”

Let’s look at each one separately.

The First Blessing

A person who has bitachon in Hashem is saved from so much suffering that is naturally caused by a life of worry. Someone who is relying on himself to bring home money is going to find himself in many unpleasant situations. Desperation can lead to risky investments that may destroy a person – financially and spiritually – if they fall through. Lying and cheating in business is also an outcome of failing to see where parnassah truly comes from.

When you have believe that Hashem is the provider, there’s no need for risk. Hashem will take care of you even without your investment. There’s no need to work yourself down to the bone, the money is going to come either way.

Much of the stress we face in life is from the uncertainty in what we’re doing. Maybe I should work harder, switch careers, move to a different city?? Bitachon melts away the stress. The Ribono Shel Olam takes care of us in every situation.

When you have what you need today, you can be calm about tomorrow; it will be taken care of.

No Need for a Blessing

The Torah tells us, “ארור הגבר אשר יבטח באדם ושם בשר זרועו ומן ה ‘ יסור לבו… ברוך הגבר אשר יבטח בה’ והיה ה’ מבטחו” (Yirmiyah 17:5-7)- A person who places his faith in man is cursed and removes his heart from Hashem… Blessed is a person who has faith in Hashem, and Hashem is his source of faith.

We first need to point out that the navi is not giving a blessing or curse to those who do and don’t have faith in Hashem. Rather the natural outcome of someone who places his faith in Hashem will be that he will have a life of blessing. Conversely, if a person primarily relies on other people, he will find himself living a difficult life.

The Camel and the Bundle

The Vilna Gaon explains a Gemarah in Rosh Hashana (26) as follows: There was a discussion in the Bais Hamedrash regarding the passuk “השלך על ה יהבך והוא יכלכלך ” – “Cast your burden on Hashem and He will sustain you.” The Gemarah says that the Rabanan couldn’t understand the meaning of the word יהבך. The Gr”a explains that they certainly understood the meaning of the word but they were struggling with the concept. They were trying to decide if a person must rely solely on Hashem or if you are meant to do everything in your power to meet your goals and to also rely on Hashem that He will help you along. In the end, they agreed that a person must do as much effort as he can and also rely on Hashem. However, they still had difficulty with the word Yehavecha, the passuk should have used a term like tzirachecha –”your needs.”

One day shortly after, Raba Bar Bar-Chana was traveling with an Arab merchant while carrying a bundle. As they were going, the Arab turned to Raba and told him, “Take your ‘yehavich’ and throw it on my camel [and it will carry it for you].” When Raba Bar Bar-Chana heard the term “yehavich” he understood that Hashem was sending him a message through the words of the Arab. Normally, to have someone carry your packages it comes at a price, but here, the Arab asked him to give over the bundles to carry. The Rabanan then understood that the passuk was teaching that when you rely on Hashem, even if it’s a situation where normally you must ask others for assistance, if Hashem wants you to have it, then it will be taken care of for you. When someone relies on Hashem, he doesn’t need to exert effort, Hashem will do it for him.

The Mind is Busy

The Vilna Goan describes how a person must put his trust only in Hashem. He quotes the passuk in Mishlei (3:5), “בטח אל ה’ בכל לבך ואל בינתך אל תשען” “Trust in Hashem with your entire heart, and don’t rely on on your intellect.” The Gaon explains that the word tishaen is similar to the word mishenes – a crutch. Your bitachon must be complete and you shouldn’t be relying on your own intellect as backup.

Dr. David Livingstone (1813 – 1871) was once interviewed after an expedition to Africa where he found himself being attacked by a lion. The interviewer asked Livingstone what was going on in his mind while the lion had his arm in his mouth? Livingston replied, “I was too busy thinking of how I would escape, that I didn’t even feel any pain.”

The mind is constantly looking for a way out in every difficult situation, whether or not there is one. However, a ba’al bitachon doesn’t need to find a way out; he knows that Hashem has the solution and will take care of his problems. We don’t need to rely on ourselves to get through or troubles, Hashem takes care of us on His own.

Bitachon is Easy?

When R’ Chaim Shmuelevitz started giving talks on bitachon, he would talk about the difficulty in attaining bitachon. His aunt, Rebbitzin Yoffen – the daughter of the Alter of Novorodok – found out that R’ Chaim was saying this. She called R’ Chaim to come and explained to him that her father would always say that bitachon is a “gringeh zach” – “it’s an easy thing.” From then on R’ Chaim would say that bitachon is easy.
While this might not be the only opinion regarding bitachon, this is the opinion of the Alter which we will be discussing.