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Taking It With You-Vaeira-Levels of Fear

The cry of the Children of Israel to God when they were in Egypt was because of the fear of physical destruction. This is fear of punishment, which is the lowest and least valuable type of fear. There are many types of fear, as the Zohar states, the highest of which is self defacing awe in the presence of the Source and Root of all the worlds, so that the might and glory of God be made manifest to all even in this lowly world (Zohar, Introduction 11b).


Nevertheless, the first step in the beginning of one’s spiritual development is fear of punishment or physical destruction, for then man cries out to God, in which case, in any event, he believes in Him and knows that his trouble comes from Him, and he believes that God has power to save him and hear his cry. (Peri HaAretz, Beshalach)

“May He open our hearts through His Torah and imbue our heart with love and awe of Him and that we may do His will and serve Him wholeheartedly, so that we do not struggle in vain nor produce for futility.” (U’va L’Tzion)

The fear of struggling in vain or experiencing that all our efforts are futile is included in the category of fear known as “Fear of Punishment.” When we pause and consider how this type of fear is embedded in practically everything we do, we can use it to cry out to God as an expression of our belief that it is only He Who can provide us with the means to achieve things that matter with all our efforts.

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