Azi v’zimras Kah, va’y’hi li liy’shuah
Hashem is my might and my praise, and He was a salvation for me…
Continued from Last Week
We begin this week where we ended last week, adding one more point about the “ikar ha’kol” – the primary purpose of our existence: bitachon – trust and reliance on Hashem.
The Gemara in B’rachos (60b) relates a phrase in the name of Rabbi Akiva: “L’olam y’hei adam ragil lomar, ‘Kol d’avid Rachamana, l’tav avid.’”
Let us examine each component of this life-changing statement carefully:
L’olam – During the course of our entire lives
y’hei adam – a person should
ragil – accustom himself
lomar – to say (verbally)
kol – all (Through various statements of Chazal, we know that “all” – except where we are negligent and do not work on our own yir’as Shamayim – that happens to us, major events as well as the most minor, such as reaching into our pockets to remove three quarters but only extracting two)
d’avid Rachamana – is being orchestrated by Hashem with compassion and love (As we mentioned, that is true, as well, even when another person is the messenger). “Rachamana” is a name of Hashem, but it also means “compassion” and it also means “love.”
l’tav avid – Whatever is happening is being done for our ultimate good (which means coming closer to Hashem) and eternal benefit.
Looking back at our lives, sometimes we can see how a very painful event, which may have even lasted for years, changed our lives in a most positive spiritual and sometimes even material way. I know someone personally who attests to at least two such very painful events in his life that changed his life in a major beneficial way to the point that he can actually thank Hashem now for those events. Many of us can likely do the same if we make the time to contemplate our lives. That said, the majority of the time, we may not have any understanding of how this is to our benefit, but we have trust in our loving Father Who clearly knows what is for our eternal best.
One moment of time is so precious that the Vilna Gaon, when he was dying, cried over losing the opportunity to perform more mitzvos, which are literally priceless, and yet many are so easy to do, not requiring much time or money, but still make such a profound impact on the world and on our eternity. Life is full of these “moments”: on line in a store, walking on the street, other times alone, and many other such times when we are alone in our minds even though we may not be physically alone. These moments in time are priceless opportunities that we will one day wish we had utilized more fully.
There are many positive ways we can use these moments to come closer to Hashem. One way, arguably the most important way, is to think and say (when others don’t hear us) the statement of Rabbi Akiva in some of these moments. The mitzvos of Emunah and Bitachon are the foundation of all foundations of Torah and life, the primary purpose of our existence. Rav Asher Zelig Weiss, in his very first statement in his sefer, quotes a Rambam and then adds his own comment. This is the quote and his comment:
…for it is valuable in my eyes to teach the essence of the essentials of the religion and of Emunah more than anything that I have taught. (Rambam’s Peirush HaMishnayos, B’rachos 9:5)
The great teacher who opened up for us the lighted gates in all sections of Torah, in decided rulings of halachah and commentaries on Talmudic sugyos, definitions of the mitzvos, and Jewish philosophy – he is the same one who wrote that it is valuable in his eyes to teach most of the essentials of Emunah – all that he taught the nation, for there is no more important teaching, and no more important mitzvah, than that of Emunah and Bitachon.
The Chofetz Chaim wrote that we know everything that has been written here intellectually and can repeat it; but, in most cases, it has not changed our behavior to the point that we don’t become angry, jealous, frustrated, etc. That means that we have much more work to do – a lifetime of work. It means that we need to more deeply understand and internalize Rabbi Akiva’s statement.
Slowly and thoughtfully repeating and contemplating this phrase, often, when all is quiet and sweet, will enable bitachon to penetrate deeper and deeper inside of us, so that when we actually need to call upon our bitachon, we will be able to do so. This will provide us with great reward in both worlds.
In this world, there should be calm, peace, serenity, enhanced tolerance and stability in our relationships, and the simchah – the joyful feeling of knowing that we have come closer to Hashem and impacted His world in a major, positive way. We will have Rabbi Akiva with us to calm and soothe us when we get stuck behind a garbage truck when we are tight on time. We will enjoy better physical and emotional health; and when we get home, we will be calm and pleasant to those around us, instead of upset and grumpy.
In the next world, there will be great eternal reward for the mitzvah of Bitachon that is referred to by Rabbeinu Yonah as “above the Heavens,” in addition to the great reward for learning every word of Torah. And as Rav Asher Weiss stated, based on the Rambam: “There is no learning of Torah and no mitzvah that can be more important than Emunah and Bitachon.”
Rav Asher Weiss also quotes the Vilna Gaon, who states that bitachon is “ikar ha’kol,” and all the mitzvos are included in the mitzvah of Bitachon. The Maharal explains that when the Vilna Gaon wrote that, what he meant was that since the goal of all the mitzvos is d’veikus (attachment to Hashem), and since bitachon IS d’veikus, therefore it includes all the mitzvos.
May we all merit to strengthen our emunah and bitachon every day, which many feel is the ultimate challenge in these days of “the heels of Mashiach.” May we merit, in the z’chus of our work on emunah and bitachon, to see the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days.
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You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.