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Believe in Yourself

By Rabbi David Garson
March 3, 2016

Rabbi Ami said, “Come and see how great people of faith are, if one trusts in a weasel & pit, such an incident should happen, how much more so if one trusts in Hashem.”(Taanit 8a)

Rashi explains that the Gemara is referring to a story. A young boy promised a girl he would marry her. She questioned, “Who is to testify to your promise?” A weasel and a pit happened to be present and the boy reassured the girl saying, “The weasel and the pit will be witnesses to my guarantee.” The boy broke his promise and married someone else. They had two children who tragically died. One died by falling down a pit and the other was killed by a weasel. His wife inquired why such unusual misfortune had befallen them. He remembered his promise to marry someone else and related the incident to his wife.

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz z”l (Sichot Musar,p.273-276) questions what comparison the Gemara is making between placing trust in a weasel & pit and trusting in Hashem?

He answers with an extraordinary concept – one strengthens and empowers whatever one believes in. He explains, that since the boy truly placed his belief in these two entities as witnesses, that belief in turn gave power and strengthened their capabilities. By breaking his word and placing his belief in these two “witnesses,” the weasel and pit became punitive measures against his transgression. Just as witnesses play a role in carrying out the punishment on whom they testify, similarly these entities assumed that role.

Therefore, what the Gemara is telling us, is that if believing in entities as feeble as a weasel and pit, one can strength and empower them, how much more so if we believe in Hashem, we so to speak “give Him power” to interact with us with His infinite capabilities.

This idea is also applicable to believing in people. When Moshe Rabenu lamented that he couldn’t help Am Yisrael who wanted to eat meat etc., he said, “Did I conceive these people to be able to give them sustenance, etc.” The Sforno explains, that Moshe meant to say, “If I were their father, then they would believe in me and I would be able to provide for them, but since they don’t believe in me I am not able to provide for them.” (Bamidbar 11,12)

A deep belief in a person, animal or even a pit, strengthens and empowers them to be able to excel. The less one trusts and believes in something, the weaker & more incapable that entity is in helping him. The more belief & trust one places in the power and abilities of Hashem, the more so to speak, one “gives Him power” to allow Him to interact with us with His infinite capabilities.

In this week’s Parasha there’s an added element to this concept – belief in oneself. The Pasuk says, “Every man whose heart uplifted him came forth, and all whose spirit inspired them to generosity brought the offering of Hashem for the work of the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and holy clothing.” (Shemot 35,21)

What type of people were those whose “heart uplifted” them and “spirit inspired” them?

The Ramban explains, that these people were not trained in any craft or business, yet still willingly came forth to work in the Mishkan. How could they volunteer if they had no previous experience? He explains, that they were people who fulfilled the Pasuk “And he elevated his heart in the ways of Hashem.”

In layman’s terms, this means that their self-belief was a catalyst to strengthen themselves, their confidence, their assertiveness and initiative to come forth. Although they didn’t have any requisite experience to work at the tasks in the Mishkan, their self-belief allowed them to excel in all areas.

The Gemara (Berachot 56b, Pesachim 94a) compares a Jew to a star. When looking at the night sky and seeing the stars, they look very small & insignificant, but in truth if one would travel closer to a star, he would see that it is much bigger than planet Earth.

The same holds true when it comes to a Jew recognising his potentiality and capabilities. Initially, they seem minor and insignificant, but in essence, the deeper one believes and trusts in them, the greater and stronger they become.

The less one believes in the potency and quality of one’s Mitzvot, learning Torah and Tefillot, the “weaker” they are, but, the more one values and believes in their potency the more they can accomplish.

However, even when deeply believing in anyone/thing, one is still limited and subject to their finite capabilities. One must therefore always also believe in Hashem’s infinite capabilities to be zocheh to all beracha.

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