Lo vigvuras ha’sus yechpatz, lo v’shokei ha’ish yirtzeh. Rotzeh Hashem es y’rei’av, es ha’m’yachalim l’chasdo.
Not in the strength of the horse does He desire, and not in the legs of man does He favor. Hashem favors those who fear Him, those who hope for His kindness.
These two p’sukim are a continuation of the previous pasuk: “He gives to an animal its food, to young ravens that cry out.”
The ravens, who receive their sustenance without any effort, proclaim that it is not believing in our might and strength (horses represent might in war, while our legs represent strength) that Hashem desires; but rather, Hashem favors those who fear [only] Him (meaning, those who recognize that all sustenance – as well as everything else in our lives – is controlled by Hashem), and those who await and hope for His kindness, not relying upon anything or anyone other than Hashem. [based on Radak and Malbim]
Rav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch explains that Hashem could easily have fed and satisfied man (just like the ravens) without demanding any active effort on his part. Why did Hashem create a system where man must put forth effort – for some, efforts that occupy the majority of their waking hours? Rav Hirsch suggests that it was so that man would be challenged to recognize that His efforts, skills, and talents are not responsible for his success. Hashem wanted people to rise to the challenge of not placing their hopes in their might, power, money, or brilliance. Hashem desires for us to recognize that He alone is the sole provider of all that we need in life, and to place our hope and reliance upon Him exclusively, awaiting His kindness.
Rashi (Maseches Nidah 14a) writes that those who work on the seas are all “tzadikim.” This is because they live in a state of danger. They recognize that they are powerless out at sea and that their lives are totally in the Hands of Hashem. They place all their hope and reliance on Hashem.
When we come to this recognition without being placed in grave danger, and work on ourselves to drive it deeper and deeper within our hearts, we will find even greater favor than the sailors who are referred to as “tzadikim” in the Eyes of Hashem. [based on the sefer Nafshi Cholas Ahavasecha]
The Chofetz Chaim adds one very significant point. He writes that the pasuk of “Hashem favors those who fear Him, those who hope for His kindness” is teaching us that even if one does not yet qualify as a “y’rei Hashem (one who fears Hashem),” he can still trust and rely upon Hashem’s kindness, which extends even to the undeserving, as long as he places his hope in Hashem and awaits His kindness. The Chofetz Chaim derives this from the word “es” (es ha’m’yachalim l’chasdo – those who hope for His kindness), which divides this pasuk into two distinct segments. Hashem favors and desires those who fear Him. But even if one has not yet attained that level, Hashem will favor him if he awaits Hashem’s kindness. This is true even if the person is a wicked person right now, as David HaMelech writes: “Many are the agonies of the wicked; but as for one who trusts in Hashem, kindness surrounds him” (T’hilim 32:10).
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