Trust in Hashem – A Recurring Issue in Sefer Bamidbar, Part 2

We continue with the discussion of bitachon (trust in Hashem’s providence) that we began last week, taken from the Maggid’s Sefer HaMiddos, Shaar HaBitachon. At the end of last week’s discussion, we presented the Maggid’s teaching that we should put all our trust in Hashem, without relying on other people who are created beings just like we are, and that we should therefore strive to follow Hashem’s directives, so that He will view us with favor and grant us blessing. We now pick up from that point.
Chapter 2 (conclusion)
The principles we have just discussed are elementary, and a person could easily come up with them on his own. We definitely have the capability to find favor in Hashem’s eyes and lead Hashem to bless us. Thus, Daniel criticized Belshatzar for failing do so, saying (verse 5:23): “You have praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone … and the God in Whose hand your soul lies, and unto Whom are all your ways, you have not glorified.” Nonetheless, our evil inclination blocks out the light of our understanding, seals our hearts, and leads us astray by means of various false ideas that are entrenched within us from youth, before our eyes were opened so that we could behold Hashem’s great and awesome works. Through specious arguments the evil inclination leads us to place our trust in natural factors and develop false hopes; in the words of Yirmiyah 2:13, we hew out broken cisterns that cannot hold water. The evil inclination befuddles us so that we forget Hashem, and distracts us from serving Him; it incites us to violate Hashem’s will. We seek security in false shelters, we forget the Torah, and we end up wandering around in unfamiliar lands, seeking food to sustain ourselves. We fail to understand that it benefits children to rely on their father and servants to rely on their master, as it is written (Tehillim 123:2): “Like the eyes of servants toward their master and like the eyes of maidservants toward their mistress, thus our eyes look toward Hashem our God, until He shows us graciousness.” We now discuss the basic factors that lead a person not to have bitachon.
Chapter 3
One major reason why people do not have bitachon in Hashem is that He conveys His bounty to us in an indirect manner, through intermediate agents. Hashem conveys the bounty to the angels in the upper realms of heaven, who pass it on to the beings in the lower realms of heaven, level after level, in a chain of succession. These heavenly beings have no power of their own; they simply pass on what Hashem conveys. The heavenly beings at the lowest level convey Hashem’s bounty to our world, and this, too, is done through intermediate agents – the various mechanisms of the physical world. One person makes use of an ox for plowing, another makes use of a donkey to carry loads, and some receive their allotment of bounty through other people, either by doing business or receiving a gift. We do not know why Hashem set up the universe this way; it is a secret which only He knows.
A person must seek some natural endeavor that will serve as the intermediate mechanism to bring his allotment of bounty from Hashem to him. Thus, the Torah says in Devarim 9:14 that we are to gather our grain, and in connection with this statement the Gemara in Berachos 35b reports R. Yishmael’s opinion, which is to be followed by everyone except the most saintly, that a person must engage in a worldly occupation. We are engaged in natural endeavors constantly from our youth to our old age. The problem is that we get so entrenched in natural endeavors that we put our trust in them and forget Hashem, our true Shepherd and Provider, who manages all the mechanisms of the natural world. We focus exclusively on what we see immediately in front of our eyes – the natural endeavors we are involved in on a daily basis. We think that these natural endeavors are the cause of the bounty that comes to us. And when we see a person gaining wealth and honor after having engaged in some particular natural endeavor, we feel a strong urge to engage in that endeavor as well, hoping that we will thereby become wealthy. We lose awareness that Hashem is the One who is behind everything. The natural mechanisms of this world are agents of Hashem, but they also operate as a thick screen dividing us from Hashem. We must work hard against our natural tendencies to maintain an awareness that Hashem is managing all our affairs.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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