TRUST IN G-D
Rabbi Yeheskel Lebovic
Shabbos and Faith
This week’s Torah reading, Emor, spells out all the Jewish holidays throughout the year, along with the weekly Shabbos. Throughout the ages, there were times when observance of the weekly Shabbos was difficult and presented financial difficulties, and similarly regarding the host of Jewish holidays. Torah-observant Jews would abstain from all types of weekday activities, would forego salaried work and would even often be fired. While things have improved in the USA and elsewhere, we should not forget what sustained our ancestors throughout the ages: they possessed implicit trust in G-d that things would work out. Trust is more than the belief that G-d can, at any time, extricate someone from a difficult situation. Faith in G-d is inherent in everyone's nature, even though it is not always internalized and part of his/her consciousness. But faith alone in G-d's Omnipotent ability will not necessarily comfort someone confronted with a threatening situation, and remove his anxiety and worry. Trust is more than that. It is a state of mind that can be likened to the firm reliance one has in a good friend or relative, someone to whom we are closely attached and who we know for sure will rally to our aid. In a similar manner, the one who possesses trust implicitly trusts that G-d's help will be forthcoming if and when he needs it. He will not worry about his predicament but act to the best of his ability to resolve it, confident that G-d will add His help to pull him through. Such trust generates peace of mind.
Trust vs. Worry
However, a question can be raised. How can one be so assured of deliverance; there may be the possibility that he may rather have to undergo a punishment for some past misdeeds? The truth, however, is that even if there is a decree of punishment, trust can still play a significant role. An individual who has no trust worries. But he who possesses trust, while cognizant of the possibility that G-d may have decreed something, will nevertheless: a) not worry, but have respectful awe for G-d and be aware of the possibility that he incurred His displeasure. This-- in itself--is not a negative attitude.
(b) remember that G-d's mercy is great and that decrees can be rescinded. This attitude will allow him to remain calm and utilize his energies towards alleviating the situation rather than being consumed by futile worry.
However, the full extent of trust goes beyond that. For, just as in the example of the friend or relative in whom we place our trust, so too, the one who has trust expects G-d to help him out in a tangible way no matter what. Secondly, if we consider the possibility of punishment for sin, then only the fully righteous (a very small minority) could expect complete deliverance. It is well known, however, that everyone is enjoined to develop the trait of trust in its fullest measure. So the question still remains as to how is it possible to have such implicit expectation in G-d's help?
Directing the Thought Process
This will be understood in light of the well-known saying of the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek: "If you think positive-- things will turn out positive". The implication of this statement is that, not only is a positive outlook good for one's frame of mind and enhances his ability to function more efficiently. The very thought itself can generate a positive power that will improve the situation so that "things will turn out OK". How does this work? This is because trust and the positive outlook and thoughts are more than faith; they constitute divine service, a mental rigorous exercise. Spiritual stamina has to be mustered in order to combat the bleakness and seeming hopelessness of a given difficult situation. One must work arduously at maintaining the "think positive" process.
How does one maintain a positive attitude? The first step is to keep away from negative thoughts. It is true that it is quite difficult to control one's thoughts, often more so than speech or action. To do this one must become "master of the house", master of one's faculties. Keeping the mind occupied with positive thoughts and attitudes will tend to keep unwanted thoughts and attitudes away: the nature of the mind is such that it cannot simultaneously be occupied with clashing thoughts, especially if they are of opposite nature, such as thoughts of jealousy, resentment, anger, etc... The clue lies in the above-mentioned saying: Things will go well in your mental attitude if you constantly habituate yourself to think well and positively. One's attitude can be rehabilitated by a conscious effort to constantly "think good, think positively." Even when one tends to fall into old patterns, one still has the freedom of choice to make a conscious, determined decision to go through positive motions, in speech, thought and action. Eventually things become "good" in the real material sense. Why is that? Because this mental service serves as an "arousal from below" which has the ability to generate a reciprocal "arousal from Above". G-d decreed at the beginning of Creation that for every good action, word and deed of man, there would be a reciprocal reaction from on High, resulting in many Divine blessings. Thus G-d says: if you rely on Me against all odds and beyond all calculations, I too will relate to you beyond the calculation as to whether you deserve My help or not.
What about the occurrences of "bad things happening to good people?" These people may have strong trust and yet, things don't "end up OK." They get sick, are involved in a bad accident, are laid off, a relative dies unexpectedly, etc… As a result, some may lose their trust in G-d. The truth is that we do not really know the absolute definition of "good and bad," since we view life within our narrow, finite terms. The true definition is much more encompassing and takes into account the spiritual, other-worldly realms. Hence, what seems to be "bad" to us may ultimately actually be good. We know of great men who, even in the bleakest moments, ascribed goodness to whatever circumstances they were confronted with. Furthermore, what is there to lose by adopting a constant cheerful, positive disposition?
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