Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Think Good, It Will Be Good (in-depth explanation)

Likkutei Sichos v.36
Parshas Shemos(a)

When a Jew thinks that something will turn out good, he himself generates and draws down the reality from Hashem that it will in fact turn out good.

Summary of the beginning of the sicha: [Moshe Rabbeinu, a"h, and Yaakov Avinu, a"h, feared that Hashem's promise to them wouldn't come to pass due to some sin on their part. The midrash (Bereishis Rabba, ch. 76) says that the finest of the Avos and the finest of the prophets had fear and Hashem told them "don't be afraid" (Chukas 21:34). Some meforashim interpret this as their praise, that they were never sure of themselves. Others interpret the midreash to mean that one shouldn't fear when Hashem promises.]

This raises the question: what could be wrong with the suspicion that one's own sin could influence the outcome? (It seems to be to the contrary--that it is a big aspect of humility to keep one's sin before him.)

This question is about the mitzvah of bitachon. bitachon is not merely the emunah that Hashem has the ability to bestow good on the person and to rescue him from distress, etc. But rather that he trusts in Hashem that He will actually do this, that he is certain to the extent that he has total inner peace and has no worry at all, as explained in in Chovot Halevavot (Shaar Habitachon chapter 1).

This certainly requires explanation, because even when the promise is explicit in Torah, and the individuals are tzaddikim, there is the possibility of "what if the sin interferes" (and all the moreso when it is not explicit, or the individual is not on the level of Yaakov Avinu).

3) The inyan of bitachon is founded on the emunah that everything is from hashem, and if a person is found in a difficulty it is completely from Heaven and not because there is any authority, G-d forbid, in the one who is causing him the difficulty. Thus, he is totally peaceful, because either
a) he doesn't deserve anything bad, so certainly Hashem will rescue him (even if there is no natural way to be rescued, because Hashem can do miracles), or:
b) if he doesn't merit such chesed (and he deserves this punishment) he is still at peace because he knows clearly that his difficulty is not a consequence of the thing in question, but only from hashem alone (and moreover, that this difficulty itself is for his benefit, as we know that all the punishments of the Torah are the chesed of hashem, to clean the person from any filth of sin, and therefore there is no room for any worry or fear).

According to this it is understood that these two things are not contradictory, and he can have complete bitachon, even though he knows that it is possible that "the sin interferes" and he wouldn't merit to be rescued from the difficulty, since this doesn't affect his inner calm (menuchas nafsho) that derives from knowing that it is all from Hashem.

Thus the meforashim wrote that it is proper not to fear (not to learn from Yaakov and Moshe, who feared), as Yaakov feared Esav, and Moshe feared "him", indicating a lack in the completeness of their bitachon in the Holy One.

4) But this explanation is not sufficient. Because the attribute of bitachon in its simple sense is not only the state of inner peaceh, but rather that one trusts that it will be good specifically in an apparent and revealed way, because the Holy One will rescue him from his difficulty.

According to the explanation above, the inyan of bitachon in its simple meaning doesn't apply to the majority of Jews (for who could judge himself suited for such Chesed of Hashem), and the inyan of bitachon for them mainly involves the fact that even if they don't merit Hashem's kindness they will still be at peace since it all comes from Hashem (and is also for their good, although it is not apparent).

But based on what is written in Chovos Halevavos (Shaar Habitachon, ch. 2 and ch. 3) the inyan of bitachon is founded on the principle that the Holy One does kindness even to those who are not suited for it.

We need to come to an understanding of how it can be that despite the fact that the kindness of Hashem is also on those who are not suited for it then how could it be that a person is punished for his bad deeds?

5) This will be understood from the saying of the Tzemach Tzedek, who answered someone who begged him to awaken Rachamim on a dangerously ill woman, chas v'shalom -- "think good and it will be good" ("tracht gut vet zein gut"). The implication being that the essence of the positive thinking (the bitachon) will bring good consequences (good which is apparent and revealed).

To explain the meaning of the words:

The obligation of bitachon which we are commanded is not just a detail (or a consequence) of Emunah that everything is from Hashem, that the Holy One is merciful, because there is no need for a special obligation in this. But rather this obligation is an avodah in and of itself, that the person should rely on the Holy One to the extent that he will put his entire destiny in the hand of Hashem, that he doesn't rely on anything in the world besides Hashem. We could say that this is the meaingin of what is written in Chovos Halevavos (ch. 2) about a servant who is locked up by his master, that the one who is locked up has bitachon only on his msater, that he was locked up by his master and no one is able either to harm him nor to free him besides his master.

[And thus it is understood that Bitachon in the Holy One is in a way that the situation according to nature doesn't change his bitachon at all, that even if it is impossible according to the laws of nature he still relies on the Holy One who is not limited by nature, chas v'shalom.]

This is the foundation of a person's bitachon that the Holy One will do apparent and revealed good for him, even if he isn't suited for such chesed.

The definition of bitachon is not that he believes that since Hashem's kindness is unlimited, whether he is suited for it or not, he will therefore receive Hashem's chesed without any effort on his part (because if so, this would nullify the principle of reward and punishment)--but rather bitachon is the labor and effort in his nefesh whcih as a consequence brings the chesed of hashem: the person truly relies on Hashem in the depths of his soul to such a degree that he has no worry at all -- it is this awakening itself which causes that the Holy One does good forb him in this way (even if he is not suited for it).

This is the real meaning of the mitzvah of bitachon in Hashem -- that a person needs to put his burden on the Holy One that He will give him an apparent and revealed good. When he trusts only and exclusively on the Holy One alone (without cheshbonos [accounting, logical reasoning] whether it is possible for Him to rescue him, etc.) then from Above the conduct is "mida keneged mida", and the Holy One protects him and has mercy on him even if according to cheshbonos (accounting) he is not suited for an apparent and revealed good.

This is the meaning of the Tzemach Tzedek's words, that the bitachon itself brings the good consequences: it is not a side-issue of bitachon, but rather these are the parameters of bitachon which we are commanded.

6) Summary: [The bitachon itself brings and causes the salvation from Hashem. The fact that a person was not rescued from a distress is because there was something lacking in his bitachon.]

This contains advice and instruction for practical action: When a person is confronted with obstacles in keeping Torah and Mitzvos, he must know that the nullification of these obstacles is dependent on him and his conduct. If he has complete bitachon in Hashem, that He will help him and that it will be good, to such a degree that he has complete peace of mind without any worry at all [and it is self-understood that this is accompanied by doing all that he must do, according to the natural order of things, to nullify these obstacles] -- then we are promised "think good and it will be good", that it will be so in actual reality -- good which is apparent and revealed to eyes of flesh, lemattah me'asara tefachim.

And just as in the geulah from Mitzrayim it is stated that "in the merit of their bitachon Israel was redeemed from Mitzrayim", similarly is the geulah from this final golus, as stated in Midrash that "they are worthy to be redeemed as a reward for their simply maintaining hope" (Yalkut Shimoni Tehillim 736, Abdurahman, Chida) -- and so it shall be for us, that in the merit fo the bitachon of bnei Yisroel that "My salvation is soon to come" (Yeshaya 56:1) we merit that the Holy One will redeem us in teh true and complete geulah speedily in our days, mamash.



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