Monday, June 13, 2011


An article by Rabbi Bentzion Shafier was featured in a locally distributed magazine called Chazaq.

It was about emunah. He was saying that what people do nowadays is decide what they need and daven to Hashem trying to convince Him to give it to them. 

He is definitely on-target there; I think we've all been guilty of that. That's not emunah; emunah is believing that whatever one gets is the best for that individual.

But the examples he brought made me uncomfortable.

One rarely sees the convenient reasons why a request was denied. Difficulties and tragedies happen in life without any seeming cause. It is at times like that when emunah is needed. 

Rabbi Shafier examples: 

1) A guy is begging God for a specific job, and he doesn't get it. He's furious at the injustice of the matter. But after a few months the whole business is outsourced to India. 

My issue: A job could be denied you for other reasons. Maybe the business decided you didn't have the right experience. Maybe you didn't do enough hishtadlus. Maybe a better job is around the corner. There could be other reasons that don't necessarily have to do with it's imminent demise. 

2) A guy wants to marry a specific girl, but she doesn't return the compliment, and ends up marrying someone else. He lashes out at God,  but it turns out that the girl had mental problems. 

My issue: A girl doesn't have to be for you without being mentally unhinged. The two of you could have ended up being miserable together. And let's say this hypothetical girl got married to someone else; he deserved the mentally unstable girl? 

3) A couple really wanted their son to get into a specific class because the rebbe is amazing. He doesn't get in. They are upset, until they find out that there was a boy who would have had a bad influence on him in that class. 

My issue: Children should be taught at an early age how to avoid bad influences. They are around us constantly, and shielding them will achieve nothing. Additionally, since this is a child we're talking about, maybe this son could have been a good influence on this troublemaker. Maybe by him being open and accepting, this boy's behavior could be modified for the better.

True emunah is believing that whatever happens to you is for the best, even if you never see the ending or the reasons why. There are so many potential ramifications, the reasons may not be fully realized for decades or even centuries later.

For instance, consider Rabbi Menashe ben Yisroel (1604-1657).  Since the text says that in the days of Mashiach the Jews will be gathered from the four corners of the world, therefore, he believed there had to be Jews in the four corners of the world.
Rabbi Menashe ben Yisroel
England had recently undergone a civil war; the monarchy had been abolished and Oliver Cromwell was the ruler. Rabbi Menashe petitioned him to permit Jews to enter England, which would be the first time since the expulsion in 1290. Cromwell did so, but despite Rabbi Menashe's pleas, he would not make it official law. 

Rabbi Menashe was heartbroken that his dream was only partially fulfilled. However . . . 

In 1658 Cromwell died; Charles the II regained the throne in 1660. Cromwell's body was exhumed and decapitated. Every law that he codified was overturned.

Rabbi Menashe was not alive when this occurred. He went to his grave believing defeat. Our disappointments in life do not necessarily conveniently play out in our lifetime. Therefore, emunah is the belief that no matter what happens, no matter what the end result is, I have the belief that this is how it should be.


ZP said...

I agree with the concept that having Emunah is accepting what happens and realizing that we don't always get what we want but rather what we need. In his defense, he prob brought those examples because they are easier to "see" that you benefit from what happened. The truth is that many times we will never see clearly why something happened but we live with the Emunah that it is ultimately for the one of my brothers said "we don't choose what happens but we choose how we respond to what happens"

Princess Lea said...

But we shouldn't even need to see the "Oh, now I get it." I'm trying to program myself to do just that.