Wednesday, August 23, 2023


 R’ Chaim Shmuelevitz (Sichos Mussar 5731 - Bitachon): It is the view of many rishonim that the obligation of bitachon means without any exertion in a natural manner. This is expressed by Yermiyahu (2:2): You followed after me into the unplanted Wilderness. From this we see that the ideal bitachon means that the person should not even lift a finger to accomplish his goal. Similarly we find in Rashi(Shemos 16:32): “In the days of Yermiyahu when Yermiyahu chastised them for not studying Torah - they replied: How can we leave our work and study Torah? What will be the source of our livelihood? He showed them the container of manna from the Wilderness and said: See the word of G‑d. He didn’t tell them to hear the word of G‑d but to see it. With this our ancestors were sustained. G‑d has many messengers to provide sustenance to those who fear Him.” Yermiyahu clearly indicates that the requirement of bitachon is without any effort since he said: G‑d has many messengers. Thus just as our ancestors were provided for in the Wilderness and they lacked nothing - that is the way we need to conduct ourselves and not to worry at all. However this approach is not relevant to everyone. The story of the wagon driver and the Alschich is well known. The Alschich’s students complained that he had told them that one does not need to work but instead should learn full time and have bitachon that G‑d would provide all their needs - but it didn’t work. The only one who succeeded by having bitachon was the simple wagon driver. G‑d had provided him with a trunk full of gold coins. In contrast the Alschich’s students failed to have their livelihood provided by their attempts at bitachon. The Alschich explained to his students that the approach of relying entirely on bitachon works only for those who have total fail without any doubts at all. Only the simple wagon driver had the pure simple faith needed for the bitachon to work. On the other hand even those rishonim who say that bitachon requires effort - do not mean that the effort is the cause of the livelihood. That is obvious since everything is from G‑d. This is particularly true since the key for livelihood is not even given into the hand of an angel - but G‑d directly controls it. The reason that a person must exert himself in a natural way is solely because of the curse of Adam (Bereishis 3:19): By the sweat of your brow will you eat bread. This idea is expressed in Kiddushin (82b): “I have never seen a deer who works as a fruit harvester or a lion transporting merchandise or a fox who was a shopkeeper - nevertheless their sustenance is provided without suffering. I who was created to serve G‑d should surely be sustained without suffering. But it is because I have sinned and destroyed my livelihood… All the effort for earning a living in only the result of man’s sins and thus he can only obtain it through suffering and great effort. But it is obvious that the suffering and the effort themselves don’t provide the livelihood. Our sages say in Berachos (8a): Greater is the one who obtains his livelihood through his efforts than one who only fears G‑d. That is because the one who works see clearly that his efforts do not produce success. He sees that he exerts himself in one area only to find that his profit is coming from something else. Thus the worker sees Providence more than one who only fears G‑d. Therefore even though the one who fears G‑d believes in Providence but it is not as real to him as the one who works… Concerning Torah study, everyone agrees that success cannot occur without effort. The essence of Torah study is effort. But here also the effort is only a precondition for success but it does not cause it directly. Success even in Torah study is directly from G‑d. Thus Nidah (70a) states that success in Torah study will not happen without prayer in addition to the effort of study.

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