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Trust or Effort

By Rabbi Yehonatan Salem
January 27, 2021

While the Jewish People travelled and sojourned in the desert, G-d sustained them with the Manna – heavenly bread. It was a miraculous food that was sent daily from heaven and tasted according to each person’s wishes. The experience of these open miracles revealed to them and to future generations that, essentially, all our sustenance is G-d-given. On Rosh Hashanah G-d establishes how much parnassah each person will receive that year. However, money spent on doing G-d’s mitzvot  is  not  included  in  the  yearly  allowance.  Whatever a person spends for the purpose of learning Torah, educating his children, Shabbat expenses and other mitzvot, is paid back fully to him.

What  is  the  difference  between  emunah  –  faith  and bitachon

– trust, and why do we need both of them? While emunah is the knowledge that G-d runs the world in His infinite wisdom and with flawless perfection, bitachon is the calmness that envelopes one who is convinced of this truth. We all know that things do not generally go exactly as we plan them. Life is not like that. Although we are certain that what we want is good for us, often G-d knows better. Life is full of surprises, sometimes even unpleasant ones. There may be heavy burdens to carry, trials and difficulties to face. This is why we need bitachon – it is the practical application of our emunah. It is not enough just to believe “in theory”, we must actually “live with

G-d” through all our life situations and feel calm that He is looking after us, and that everything He does is for our best.

The question is: how does bitachon – trust in G-d, fit in with hishtadlut – the steps a person must take in order to achieve his needs? G-d expects everyone to make some sort of effort, but beyond that, a person must believe and trust in Him. How much effort a person needs to make depends upon their level of trust. Everyone must try to honestly gauge how much hishtadlut Hashem expects him, in his standing, to do in order to achieve a certain goal. Beyond that, is where his personal service of “trusting in G-d” comes in. A person should operate on his own level of trust and not exceed it. For example, an average businessman should not say: “I will go to the office two hours a day and that’s it”. That would be a mistake that could destroy his business. Rather, he should go according to the norms of that trade.

However, if similar businesses are open from nine to five, and he wants to “take off” an hour to learn before coming to the office, and trusts that this will not harm his trade, then that is a feasible plan. He is not enslaved to regular office times, and as long as the “pipeline” is open, blessing will come in. Someone on a higher level than that may feel that he can look for a business that will take up even less time. He may think that he can run his business from home on a computer and devote half a day to learning Torah; if that is truly his level of trust, then G-d will help him.

We serve Hashem according to our personal level of trust. We must fully believe in Him and trust Him on that level before we take on more. As we become more proficient in bitachon, our belief and trust will hopefully rise, and the level of effort required, decrease.

Let us solidify our present level of trust in G-d, enabling us to “live with Him” and have peace of mind due to our reliance upon Him, which will eventually bring us to the next level of trust.


Shabbat shalom

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