The Torah tells us, “ארור
הגבר אשר יבטח באדם ושם בשר זרועו ומן ה
הגבר אשר יבטח בה’ והיה
(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
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 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.
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.
What is Bitachon?
Bitachon can be described as applied emunah. While emunah is belief in Hashem and realization that He created and runs the world, bitachon is the faith that He personally takes care of every individuals needs. Emunah may sometimes be easier to obtain than bitachon. One can see proof of Hashem from nature and science, but to rely solely on Hashem for your needs may take work.
The Joy of Studying Bitachon
R’ Yisroel Salanter compared the subject of bitachon to a “fetteh tupp” – a pot of cooked goose fat. In our terms, it would be like a bowl of icing – there’s just something irresistible about it that you feel compelled to take a lick. The same is for bitachon, once you start to hear a little about it you feel the urge to try it.
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