A wealthy Jewish couple managed a tavern, but that wasn’t how they earned the bulk of their income. Whenever a rich guest would come to stay, they’d kill him and take whatever money and possessions he had packed. Late one night a wealthy guest arrived. They showed him to his room and shortly thereafter the husband headed upstairs, knife in hand, only to be stopped by his wife yelling, “Stop! You took a dairy knife!” Jokes aside, one of the most notorious mob hitmen of all time, a Jew, refused to “work” on Shabbos. And if a job absolutely had to be done, Sam “Red” Levine, made sure to daven beforehand. Chazal, too discuss this idea, referencing the example of a thief burrowing a tunnel into someone else’s property, calling out, “Hashem please grant me success!” Innately, every Jew believes in Hashem. The question is only how deeply we internalize this belief and integrate it into our lives.
We all experience some disconnect between our belief and our practice. Thievery and murder may not be our challenges, but we still experience subtler ones, such as trusting that our livelihood, health, and safety are in His hands.
When we internalize our faith in Hashem it brings us to trust. And trust, as defined by the Chovos Halevavos, is peace of mind. The stronger the trust, the greater the peace of mind. Can you sleep when your teenagers drive? Depends how strongly you trust their driving skills!
The word emunah, faith, stems from the word eimun, which means to exercise and train. The more we learn and talk about it, the stronger it becomes, and the stronger we become. And like all exercise, it’s an ongoing task, something we have to keep practicing.
At times like these, when we’re facing so much tragedy and uncertainty r”l, it is clear that our faith is both more needed and more tried. Everything we’ve learned and “trained for” is actually happening. This is our chance to put it into practice.
Imagine soldiers in training being told that they have powerful ammunition, but when they actually hit the front lines their commander gives them something entirely different and says, “The other stuff was just for training; it won’t help you now.”
We shouldn’t G-d forbid fall into the trap of the secular world which would like us to believe that only a trained professional/therapist has the answers during this perilous time. That would be like throwing away years of training just as we reach the front lines. Rather, parents can demonstrate and verbalize their trust in the One Above. Teachers can encourage their students to daven to Hashem, Who loves and cares for us, even in these scary times. These are testaments that our faith is real and integrated.
We are on the front lines now, and if this isn’t the time to put into practice everything we’ve learned, when is? Let’s do it for ourselves, our families, and our students. Now is the time to utilize the greatest ammunition available: our trust in Hashem.
Good Shabbos, Zai Gezunt,
Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier