Blessing 13:Trusting God
Bitachon and Success
“L’chol ha’botchim b’shimcha b’emet”- “To all that sincerely believe in Your Name.”
There is a famous story about a rabbi who gave a sermon about having faith in God.
“If you have faith in God, God will take care of whatever it is you need”, declared the rabbi from his pulpit.
A man comes over to him afterwards and asks: “Rabbi, if I sell my business and I sit and study Torah all day, and I have faith that God will send me a hundred thousand guilders, does that mean that God will do so?” The rabbi says: “If you have faith that God will send you that money, then He will.”
So the man quits his job and sits and studies Torah all day. A week goes by. Two weeks. A month goes by, he is running out of money. His wife is getting upset, who is going to feed the children? He goes back to the rabbi and asks: “Rabbi, are you sure that if I have absolute faith in God, He will send me a hundred thousand guilders?” “Of course!” answers the rabbi.
Two more months go by, he doesn’t get any money. He returns to see the rabbi: “Rabbi, you said that if I had faith, I would receive the one hundred thousand guilders!” The rabbi says: “Absolutely, He will. And I am so sure that He will, I will give you fifty thousand guilders now, and you give me the hundred thousand when you get it!” The man says: “You got a deal.” The rabbi answers: “Well, obviously you don’t have faith!”
That’s the story usually used to depict Bitachon. But of course, it does not make sense to define faith in this manner. We do not believe that if I have faith, I will get whatever material possessions I dream of. This is certainly not the meaning of “l’chol ha’botchim”.
Rabbeinu Bachya, in Kad Hakemach, devotes a chapter to the concept of Bitachon. These are his starting words in defining Bitachon: “Trust in God means that one should rely on God to help him fulfill the commandments and to supply him with all the requisites thereto.” In fact, he warns us of the dangers of relying on God’s help as a reward for good deeds. He writes: “for this attitude will cause the person’s sins to be remembered on high. One should not be lax in his efforts to earn his sustenance.” Meaning that, if one says: “God should give me this”, it indicates that the person thinks he is deserving. This in turn will cause his actions to be examined carefully. Most people cannot afford such a close look at what they are doing.
What Rabbeinu Bachya is teaching us is that Bitachon means that we believe that if You created me, You created me to succeed. If I was created to succeed, then that means that You have given me everything that is necessary for me to do well. And it means that You will continue to provide me with the required tools for me to succeed.
When we speak about “v’chol ha’botchim”, of those who sincerely trust in Your Name, we are referring to the trust that come from knowing that God empowers me to fulfill my purpose in creation. I have Bitachon if I believe that God is listening to me, cares about me, is involved with me and want me to do well. What He wants is for me to articulate what I need to accomplish my purpose.