Sunday, January 12, 2014


"I am the Lord, Your G-d, who took you out of the land of Mitzrayim from being slaves. " The First of the Ten Commandments is the Mitzva of Emuna, to believe in the one G-d as the first cause of all existence, who constantly creates and sustains all of creation . There is another fundamental concept that is connected to Emuna, that of Bitachon, trust in G-d. Is trusting in G-d a part of the Mitzva of Emuna or is it a separate concept that is not included in any specific Mitzva? The Chazon Ish zt"l explains that Bitachon is not separate at all, rather it is the natural outgrowth of genuine Emuna; The obligation to have Emuna requires that one believe in the fundamental tenets about G-d such as First Cause and Hashgacha (Divine Providence), whereas Bitachon is applying that belief in practice. If a person cannot do this then it reveals that his Emuna is severely lacking. The Chazon Ish gives an example of Reuven who is constantly expressing his Emuna and how everything that he has is from Hashem; he proclaims his recognition that his livelihood emanates purely from Hashem and that there is no need for anxiety. However, when someone else opens a business that rivals that of Reuven, suddenly, all his Emuna fades away and he worries constantly over the future. Reuven's Emuna seemed to be strong when everything was going smoothly, but when he was put to the test he failed to show sufficient Bitachon. This in turn demonstrates that his Emuna was never genuine . We learn from the Chazon Ish that an essential aspect of Emuna is bitachon, which means applying one's Emuna to real life situations. The Nesivos Shalom zt"l develops our understanding of Bitachon by explaining that there are two levels of Bitachon. There is an inactive kind of Bitachon and there is a proactive Bitachon. Inactive bitachon applies when one finds himself in a difficult situation in which there is nothing he can do - in such circumstances his Avoda is to trust that everything that happens will ultimately be for the good. Proactive bitachon becomes necessary when a person is required to do something that demonstrates his trust in Hashem. He cites the example of Krias Yam Suf (the splitting of the Sea of Reeds); Moshe Rabbeinu and the Jewish people were crying out to Hashem to save them from Pharaoh's advancing army. In response, Hashem told them to stop praying and to go into the sea. The Nesivos Shalom explains that in order for the Jewish people to merit Hashem transcending nature through Krias Yam Suf they had to demonstrate a trust in Hashem that transcended the normal laws of nature. They had to believe that if the Ratson Hashem (will of Hashem) was for them to cross the sea then they should trust that He had the ability to enable them to do so, even if they had no idea how it was possible. Accordingly, their stepping into the raging sea before it split was a display of proactive bitachon that earned them the right to the great miracle of Krias Yam Suf . By combining the lessons of the Chazon Ish and Nesivos Shalom we conclude that genuine Emuna can only manifest itself in a person who is willing to act with an unswerving trust in G-d; a belief that if Ratson Hashem dictates that he act in a certain way, then he can and must take the required action, and that Hashem will enable him to succeed in whatever he endeavors to do. This past Shabbos was the third Yahrzeit of Rav Noach Weinberg zt"l. He epitomized this attribute to a great degree. He is most well-known for his incredible feats in kiruv rechokim (outreach) however, as one of his closest friends pointed out, all his accomplishments emanated directly from his deep Emuna and Bitachon. I merited to learn in Yeshivas Aish HaTorah for four years, and in that time I was fortunate to experience Rav Weinberg's greatness first-hand. I never forget how he made a bracha - he spoke to Hashem as if He was really in front of Him, a demonstration of 'shivisi Hashem kenegdi tamid' (I constantly place Hashem in front of me) . When he talked about trusting in G-d, it deeply influenced his listeners, not because he said anything so unusual, but because he lived such Bitachon and the fact that he internalized it so greatly enabled it to rub off on others just by observing him. Because his Emuna was so genuine he was able to apply it in practice and thereby express the high level of proactive Bitachon that the Nesivos Shalom described . He used to say that if we see problems in the world there is no reason that we shouldn't go out and tackle them if we believe that Hashem so desires. Hashem is willing and able to help us achieve his Ratson even if it demands superhuman achievements. If we demonstrate proactive Bitachon then Hashem could make miracles happen for us. This is exactly what took place in Rav Weinberg's life. At a time when kiruv was virtually unheard of, he saw a dire need to bring back the countless Jews who knew nothing of Torah observance. Many people mocked his dreams as being completely unrealistic and called him a fool. Nevertheless, his conviction that he was fulfilling Ratson Hashem enabled him to overcome numerous setbacks and perform miracles in creating a movement that saved thousands upon thousands of unaffiliated Jews from begin totally lost to Judaism . His son, Rav Hillel Weinberg Shlita described how he began his quest with three young men in a small room in Kirayt Sanz. No-one could have imagined how those humble beginnings could culminate in Aish HaTorah and its offshoots. No-one, that is, except for Rav Noach himself; those closest to him testify that he genuinely believed that he would bring Moshiach through his efforts - his extensive achievements were small in his eyes because he knew that Hashem wanted so much more. At the funeral, his son, Rav Hillel, told us what Rav Weinberg would tell us if he were standing in front of us. He would say that we could be bigger than him, we could be as big as Moshe Rabbeinu! Chazal's words to this effect were not some vague saying, rather they were real and should be taken seriously. I heard an incredible story about how Rav Weinberg put his Emuna into practice; At the shiva his daughter told over that once a chess champion came to Aish, learned for a few days, and decided to leave. Rav Noach challenged him to a game of chess, on the basis that if the student won, he could leave, but if Rav Noach won, he would stay. Rav Noach won. When asked how he could have had the audacity to propose such a deal, he said that he knew Hashem wanted the young man to stay, so he trusted that Hashem would make him win . It is appropriate to end with one of his oft-told stories, one that I have discussed before, but one that should never fail to arouse us. Many years ago, Rav Shach zt"l came to Aish HaTorah for a bris. Upon seeing numerous baalei teshuva, people who had come from the most distant backgrounds, Rav Shach told over an idea that he had never expressed before . He quoted the Navi, Hoshea; "Return, Yisroel, to Hashem, your G-d because you have stumbled in your sin ." He asked that the Navi implies that the reason that Yisroel should return to Hashem is because they stumbled in sin - why is the stumbling in sin the reason that Yisroel should return to G-d? He answered by explaining that we know that however powerful evil is, the power of good is greater. Accordingly, the very extent to which Yisroel sinned is the proof that they have the power to do teshuva, because however powerful a person's yetser hara, their yetser tov is greater. Based on this, Rav Shach said, that if one man can destroy six million lives, then one man can save six million lives. He was clearly aroused to express this idea by the remarkable feats that Rav Weinberg had already performed. Rav Hillel added, that the man who caused so much destruction, Hitler, yemach shemo, was not a particularly talented or intelligent person and yet he was able to do so much harm. Therefore, each of us, no matter how ordinary we consider ourselves, have the potential to do more good than the evil that he perpetrated. How can we achieve this? By learning from Rav Noach and developing an Emuna and Bitachon that will strengthen us with the belief that we can achieve incredible feats if Hashem so wills it. It seems difficult to aspire to the level of Emuna and Bitachon that Rav Noach Weinberg attained. However, his greatness in this and all areas did not come about as a result of his natural talent - it was a result of years of hard work in developing his relationship with Hashem. He constantly exhorted us to learn about and internalize the Six Constant Mitzvos, the Mitzvos that encapsulate a Jew's relationship with Hashem. An appropriate way of remembering him would perhaps be to listen to his teachings and strengthen ourselves in our relationship with Hashem through learning about these Mitzvos, beginning with Emuna . This is the key to achieving the level of proactive Bitachon that the Jews reached at Krias Yam Suf and that Rav Noach Weinberg epitomized throughout his life. May we all merit to learn from Rav Noach Weinberg and ensure that his dreams are fulfilled and that every Jew will return to his Father in Heaven.

No comments:

Post a Comment