Trust in Hashem – A Recurring Issue in Sefer Bamidbar, Part 3

We continue with the discussion of bitachon (trust in Hashem’s providence), taken from the Maggid’s Sefer HaMiddos, Shaar HaBitachon.
Chapter 4
The second major reason why people lack bitachon is that it is not part of a person’s inborn nature. By proper exercise of his free will, a person can implant bitachon in his heart, but it is not there from birth. Hashem deliberately created man without a built-in tendency toward bitachon, in order to advance His plan for running the world. Hashem wanted us to procure the bounty He emplaces within the world through the work of our own hands. The work we do is the final stage of an extensive process, whose other components are much more numerous and powerful – the heavens give forth rain, the earth provides its resources, oxen do plowing, and so on. But, nonetheless, our work plays the central role; without the work of human beings, the world would lie desolate. If a person does not plow his field or tend his orchard, no produce will come forth. Thus it is written (Bereishis 2:5): “No trees or shrubs of the field were yet on the earth, and no herb of the field had yet sprouted, for Hashem, God, had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no man to work the soil.”
If bitachon were an inborn trait of man, we would disdain worldly endeavors and would not put exertion into them, since we would know with perfect clarity that the flow of sustenance we receive is not brought about by these endeavors, but rather by Hashem’s decree. And we would reason that even if we engaged only in the easiest worldly endeavors, Hashem, in His benevolence, would provide us our sustenance. A person would say: “Why do I need to exert myself with tiring labor, or travel long distances for business? Why do I need to put myself at risk of injury, illness, or death? Whatever Hashem decrees that I should have, He can bring to me without all this – I can stay at home and my portion will come to me there. Is He God only from a distance and not from nearby? [cf. Yirmiyah 23:23].”
Rambam, in his commentary on the Mishnah, in the preface to Seder Zeraim, says that if not for crazy people the world would be desolate. And indeed we see that certain items are made available only by people who lack bitachon. For example, some people deal in goods, such as precious stones, that have to be conveyed from place to place, and they go through wearying ordeals, sometimes putting themselves in danger, to acquire and sell their merchandise. It is part of Hashem’s master plan that people engage in such activities. He therefore did not instill us with bitachon, but rather left our level of bitachon to our own free choice. If a person arouses himself to cast away the tempestuous emotions that are part of ordinary human nature and implant firm bitachon into his soul, he can enjoy a life of serenity. Thus, there are saintly people who have seen the light of truth and refrained from engaging in any worldly endeavors that involve significant exertion, as a result of their high level of bitachon and their clear awareness that sustenance comes from Hashem alone. But many people have much less bitachon, and invest considerable effort in worldly endeavors.
Another aspect of Hashem’s master plan is that people have a natural liking for certain commodities, such as gems, pearls, and so on, even though they are not necessary for normal living. If not for this liking, people would exert themselves only for basic necessities such as bread. But Hashem did not create anything for naught. He wants all creations to continue in existence and be available to man; each creation has its own special qualities that make it important, even if we are unaware of what they are. He therefore implanted within us a natural liking for various commodities, so that we will be stirred to exert effort to acquire and maintain them. The harder a commodity is to acquire and maintain, the stronger the natural liking for it that Hashem implanted within us.
We see the same pattern in the love that parents have for their children. A parent has more natural affection for a younger child than for an older one. The affection that a parent has for a very young child is enormous, almost boundless. The affection diminishes and becomes measured as the child grows older. A parent may even come to hate a child. The reason the affection is so great when the child is young and diminishes over time is as we have described in connection with commodities – the level of affection that parents have for a child is proportionate to the effort they need to invest to care for him or her. The care of a young child involves a huge effort: the child has to be fed, dressed, carried, and taught. Hashem therefore implanted parents with a huge amount of affection for a young child.
At the same time, Hashem gave us the power to modulate our natural inclinations. We can decide for ourselves what we will put effort into. Thus, the Sages say (Bereishis Rabbah 13:7 on Bereishis 2:5): “Man was created to toil. If a person merits, he toils in Torah; if a person does not merit, he toils in the land. Well-off is one who toils in Torah.” It is true, as Rambam says, that without crazy people the world would be desolate. But we can each ask ourselves: “Why should you be one of those crazy people? You have before you the Torah, which spans the length of the world, more precious than pearls or the finest gold. Delight in your love of it!” 
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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