The Chovos HaLevavos explains that in order to have bitachon, you must realize that Hashem cares about you in a very real way. You must appreciate that Hashem is deeply concerned for your good. And you must know that Hashem loves you.
But Hashem doesn’t care about you as a mortal cares about you. Hashem cares about you more than any person could care about you. Hashem cares about you vastly more than even you care about yourself. Moreover, Hashem looks out for your best interests. But, Hashem doesn’t look out for your interests as a friend or a loved one might. Hashem looks out for your wellbeing immeasurably more than you or anyone else ever could. And most significantly, Hashem loves you—but not as a person loves another person. Hashem loves you more than anyone could ever love you. Hashem loves you infinitely more than you love yourself.
But this greatly understates the concept. When we say that Hashem loves us more than any other person does, we are still thinking of Hashem in human terms. This is so limiting to Hashem that it is in the category of insulting.
To put this into the proper light, Chazal use a parable. Imagine that long ago, two peasants were discussing the wealth of the king. “Why, the king is so wealthy,” said the first peasant, “that he probably has a hundred silver coins.”
“What?!” counters the second peasant. “A hundred silver coins? Why, I bet the king is so rich that he has more than a hundred gold coins!”
Both simpletons are insulting to the king. The king’s wealth isn’t measured in numbers of silver or gold coins. The king’s treasure houses are filled with diamonds and pearls, precious metals and rubies; he owns vaults and vaults of gold and silver bars. Because the peasants are so small in their thinking, their attempt to praise the king is actually an insult to him.
In the same vein, any attempt to paint Hashem’s concern for His creations in human terms is myopic. Physical beings have limits—Hashem doesn’t. If Hashem cares about someone, it is limitless—without borders and confines. And if Hashem loves someone, that love breaks all boundaries and parameters.
If you were to take the most giving, loving individual you have ever known, and multiply that love by ten thousand, ten thousand times, you wouldn’t even begin to understand the love that Hashem has for any of His Creations.
This is the foundation of bitachon. Knowing that Hashem loves you, and that Hashem looks out for your good. Without it, trusting in Hashem is foolish. How can I rely on Hashem if He doesn’t care about me? How can I trust in Hashem if I am of no importance to Him? The only way that a person can develop a sense of confidence in his Creator, is by understanding that Hashem loves him to an extent that is beyond human comprehension.
If we understood the extent of Hashem’s love for us, we would feel a tremendous sense of trust and reliance on Him. If Hashem is that concerned for my good, then of course I can trust that He will do everything possible to help me.
Growing in bitachon
The problem, however, is that these concepts are hard to feel. It is hard for us to imagine the unlimited; it is difficult for us to visualize something without bounds. It is too distant from our reality. Therefore, to help us grow in bitachon it is wise to use examples from our frame of reference.
Abba, please make them stop!
When my son was five years old, he was running a high fever and complaining that his leg was hurting. I took him to the pediatrician, who examined him and ordered blood tests and an X-ray. It turned out that the little guy was running a 105 degree fever, and had a broken leg. Not good signs. The doctor feared the worst, and he immediately sent us to the emergency room. We had to find out what was going on.
At the hospital, they put him through more exams and more blood tests, but still nothing was conclusive. The attending physician told me that the only way he could rule out a life-threatening disease was to draw a blood sample from a vein deep in the thigh. I agreed to the procedure, and he asked us to wait in one of the emergency operating rooms.
By this time, it was already late at night and my son was very tired. When the two tall technicians, wearing gowns and masks, walked in to draw blood, I don’t think he was quite ready for them. But it got worse. One of these “masked men” asked me to help hold the patient down. When we had him firmly in position, the other technician pulled out a LOOOOONG needle, which he directed toward the inside of my son’s thigh.
At that point, my son looked up at me, and with terror in his voice pleaded, “Abba, make them stop! Please! Make them stop!”
My heart melted. What could I say? We had to do this. So I steeled myself and looked the other way.
Baruch Hashem, the results of the blood test were negative, and we went home with a diagnosis of a broken leg and a simple virus.
A father feels his son’s pain
The Chovos HaLevavos explains that a father feels his son’s pain like his own. A father views his son as an extension of himself. So, it’s not his son’s arm that’s being cut, it’s his own.
We recognize this as paternal instinct. But where does that instinct come from? Why do parents feel such a powerful connection to their children? Why would a parent be willing to give up their life for a child?
Hashem wants children to be loved and cared for, so He created this instinct, and implanted into the heart of man a sense of devotion to their offspring.
In plain language, any mercy that a child experiences came about because Hashem created those sentiments. When I was a young boy and stepped on a nail, I went running to my mother. The reason she gathered me in her arms and comforted me, was because Hashem wanted me to feel secure. Once I cut my arm and cried out in horror, “All of my blood is spilling out!” My father scooped me up and calmed me down, because Hashem wanted me to be cared for. Any kindness or love that I have ever experienced was created by Hashem.
Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues.
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The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.