On Sunday evening, August 22, Get Real with Coach Menachem’s 70 shiur featured Rabbi David Ashear, renowned author of the Living Emunah series.
Coach Menachem shared an introduction. “To live with Hashem is our purpose… We know that Hashem runs the world. We know that all He does is for the good. We need to actually live it and feel it.” He noted how the Living Emunah books have changed people’s lives.
Next, Rabbi Ashear shared, “We know principles of emunah, but it is difficult to feel it in your body. To move the idea from your brain is to make it heartfelt.” The only way to make emunah part of your life is to keep learning it. The Chazon Ish once said that any day that he is not learning emunah, he automatically felt his emunah got worse.
Rabbi Ashear taught, “We are constantly fighting with what the world spits at us. What news says and constantly on a daily basis, working on emunah is the way to penetrate your heart.”
We have a mitzvah that you have to accept whatever Hashem does wholeheartedly. We have a mitzvah to trust Hashem. To become a baal emunah is lifetime work. “It brings closeness to Hashem when we know we are in His hands all the time.”
Chovos HaL’vavos teaches about parnasah, which is an area people question. It is not easy. Hashem created us with needs, and we rely on Him to take care of our needs. When the Jewish nation left Egypt, they didn’t know how they would eat, but they followed Hashem into the desert. Hashem said about that: “I will never forget that chesed that you did for me.”
Any Jew who finds parnasah is tight, and that Jew says, “I am following You, Hashem,” and that Jew who has this mindset of following Hashem – no matter what – goes to shul and keeps learning Torah, then that Jew taps into the same energy as the Jewish people had when they left Egypt. Hashem could then say the same thing about that Jew. The Jews leaving Egypt had witnessed open miracles. So, imagine today, when Hashem is more hidden, the great z’chus of the Jew who follows Hashem no matter what. “This is a world of growth where we are doing our job to reach the Next World. We have to grab opportunity when it comes. We have to say, “Hashem, I accept Your will. Hashem, if this is what You want, this is how I will serve You.” That is a very precious avodah. It does not preclude hoping for salvation.
The stories in the Living Emunah books are very important, because after we accept this as r’tzon Hashem, a second later we have to hope we will get what we want. That is where prayers and hope come in. We will be asked after 120 years: Did you hope for salvation of Hashem. This doesn’t just mean hoping for Mashiach. It means did you anticipate the salvation of Hashem in every situation you were in? The stories in the books show us that these salvations can come. When you read them, you say to yourself: ‘This could also happen to me, so I will pray harder.’ Every single person has a different avodah. Only Hashem knows what it is.
He then shared a story of acceptance. One Shabbos, the Baal Shem Tov brought his students to a couple who had been married 20 years with no children. They had done something heroic that he wanted his students to know about.
The man related to the students that on Shabbos they found that they had no food, but instead of being upset, they served hot water for each course and pretended it was some delicacy, and they thanked Hashem over and over for each course. They had no food and no children, but they were still happy because they had agreed when they married that no matter what happens in their lives, they won’t become depressed and they will accept Hashem’s will. He said that they felt so close to Hashem. It was one of the greatest Shabbasos of their whole life together.
The Baal Shem Tov then told the couple that what they did that Shabbos created such joy in Heaven. Therefore, Hashem will give them a present: Next year, they will have a baby boy. The couple indeed had a son, who became known as Rav Yisroel Hopstein, the Kozhnitzer Maggid (1737-1814).
Following this introduction, there was a live Q&A session.
Someone asked, “How can you be happy if you don’t know the reason for your challenge?”
Rabbi Ashear answered that you can think in your brain that there is some reason, like it’s a kaparah and it is saving me from other things. Think of the good you have in your life and what this problem is saving you from. Every person has a different purpose in life. “It requires trust. We are not going to know the reasons, but we have to trust that there is a purpose for it. We are not here just to enjoy ourselves. We are here on a mission to serve Hashem in the place He put us.” A Jew has this trust in his DNA. We can rise to the challenge when we know the value of doing so; it makes it is much easier.
By Susie Garber