Rabbi Bechaya’s classic, Gateway To Trusting God
A paraphrased translation
Introduction: The benefit of Trusting God
The most important quality in one’s spiritual development (and certainly religious) is acquiring a concrete trust in God.
The reason this quality is so vital, is that numerous benefits, both psychological and spiritual (obviously religious) come from it.
The first benefit is peace of mind – for the way the trust-system works, is that whoever you place your trust in, is whoever God creates as the master of your destiny.
Hence when you place your trust in a man, God removes his mastery over your affairs (which obviously is a disaster and will lead to failure.)
Now it may be a person relies on his own skill or perhaps bank account etc., such a person God removes his guiding hand over him and allows the person to eventually realize that his skill and money are completely useless (as the factors necessary for attainment of one’s needs are – as documented – beyond the capacity of any human (ultimately they are miraculous.))
The next benefit/s are:
1. One feels at peace to dedicate their lives to God’s will.
2. One does not place their expectation nor their frustration on any human.
3. One does not seek approval.
4. One does not feel the need to “kiss up…”
5. One has the courage to stand for one’s convictions.
6. One is not afraid of others.
7. One has the courage to publicly speak about their convictions.
8. One doesn’t feel needy nor indebted, overly grateful, nor disappointed with others.
9. One has the courage to even speak critically of those who oppose decency.
10. If the situation warrants, he is even prepared to offend and humiliate indecent people (to cause positive change.)
11. One does not feel the need to “if you cant beat em’, join em’” – become part of the herd, mentality.
Another benefit to having true inner-peace, allows one to focus on their higher calling.
Now the author lists ten advantages of trust in God in financial matters:
1. As God’s power is miraculous, at no time is the means of your livelihood beyond God’s – for example Manna fell from Heaven during the Jews sojourn in the desert.
2. The one who trusts in God engages not in life threatening or physically risky work, as God’s means will always be tranquil.
3. When you trust God, you remove anxiety of people – in fact you consider your faith noble.
4. When one’s trust is in God one need not fear future losses, for at all times (such as a child in his mother’s womb sustained through an umbilical cord etc.) are God’s ability to sustain possible; so the means are never removed from God.
5. The one who trusts in God will be revered by man (and even nature.)
6. When one trusts in God, one is freed from illnesses, unless they serve as an atonement.
7. No matter the financial reality – or lack thereof – one who trusts in God will receive.
8. The one who trusts in God, feels secure wherever he is.
9. When one trusts in God, he is rewarded not only in this world but even in the next.
10. One who trusts in God, brings blessing to those who know him.
Among the benefits of trusting in God in spiritual matters:
If a trusting person has wealth, he will not tarry in fulfilling his duty to help others.
Another benefit is that his money will come to him in a way in which is tranquil; freeing him from excessive anxiety.
Another benefit is that money will not diminish his trust, as his faith precedes the money.
Furthermore even if he will remain wealthy, he will not be arrogant, as he realizes that it wasn’t his abilities.
In addition, he will not wish for poor people to acknowledge him for his charity, realizing it his duty and privilege.
Even if he loses his money, he won’t mourn it, as he sees it only as God’s.
Now the author mentions some benefits of trust regarding peace:
Firstly a trusting person will generally have peace of mind.
Secondly he will not try to pursue the lusts of this world.
Thirdly, he will feel at peace in the world.
Fourthly, he will not feel the need to travel to distant places to find a livelihood.
A Jew once traveled to a distant land to earn a living – there he met an idolater and told him how foolish is the worship of idols – “Whom do you serve?” asked the idolater. “I serve the Creator of the entire world who constantly supervises every detail.” “But your actions deny your beliefs” replied the idolater. “How so?” asked the Jew. “For if it is true as you say, why did you need to come here, surely your Creator could have found a living for you, where you were!” Unable to answer, he returned home and never left.
Another benefit in trusting in God, is one seeks a profession (or business) that is not too taxing; nor does he “suck up” to man.
As he realizes God is the source of all, hence he chooses an occupation which does not overly tax.
Another benefit is trust minimizes aggravation that might result from lulls in financial returns.
Another benefit is, joy in everything – even those things one doesn’t seem to comprehend – for one who trusts in God, like a little child, knows that all her mother does – is only for his or her benefit.
Now that we have enumerated the benefits, we will develop seven topics on trust (these become the subsequent chapters.)
1. What is trust?
2. The criteria for trusting another.
3. The prerequisites to trusting God.
4. When trust is applicable.
5. The difference between a person who trusts in God for his income and one who does not.
6. The obligation to refute the notion that one need delay serving God until achieving material prosperity.
7. Things that can damage one’s trust and a general summary.
Chapter 1 – What is trust?
Firstly the sign that someone trusts, is relying on the integrity, love and ability, of the one whom one trusts.
However the main factor is, the belief that the one whom I rely upon, has only my best interest continuously in mind.
Chapter 2 – The criteria for trusting another.
There are seven factors which create trust in another:
1. Compassion, pity and love. If one knows that another has these three attitudes visa-vie him (or her) then their heart will be confident in trusting them.
2. The knowledge that his friend upon who he relies, is neither lazy nor forgetful in attending to his needs, for one can hardly rely on a lazy or forgetful person.
If however they have confidence in both their love as well as alertness in attending to their needs (like a child to her mother) than their heart, will be certain and trust.
3. The person one trusts is strong and has the ability to overcome adversity.
When this trait is present, it enhances one’s confidence in the capacity that whoever one trusts in, has the ability to act upon their love and desire to help.
4. The knowledge that whom one relies upon has complete knowledge of every detail which will be beneficial to me.
When one combines these four aspects – namely faith in the person’s knowledge of what is beneficial, faith in the person’s abilities, faith in the person’s alertness in attending to one’s needs, and faith in the person’s heart (compassion, love), the trust will be that much stronger.
5. That the person one trusts has cared for him from childhood to the present; for observing the many past favors received, this creates a concrete reliance on the future.
6. When every personal matter is dependent on the one whom one trusts – like a slave chained in a cell must rely on the master – hence (as will be explained) this creates a sole trust (without any deviance toward hoping in anyone else.)
7. That the generosity of the person one trusts in, is absolute and universal – regardless if they are deserving or undeserving – in other words this is their natural tendency.
Whoever can combine the previous seven traits would be one in whom another could, with total peace of mind, certainty of heart, rely upon, unconditionally.
Upon investigation, we find that only the good-Lord contains these seven qualities!
Firstly, he is exceptionally compassionate to his creations.
He continuously is attentive, as the verse states, “The Lord neither slumbers nor sleeps.”
He is all-wise and invincible, and all forces are under his direct control.
He is the one who literally put you together – from the marriage of the male and female chromosomes to form your zygote DNA – to the continued reproduction of your zygote cell to the full body you have – to the miracle of your mother’s nourishing breast milk – to the love implanted in your parent’s heart to clothe and feed you – to every single positive benefit, from the moment you were conceived, to this very day.
All that can harm or help you is not up to man, but exclusively up to God.
God’s generosity is to all his creations, for he loves them, as a parent takes pride in their creation – he cares and sustains them all, irrespective of how deserving or not, they are; for such is the nature of love!
When we think about these seven qualities, all found in the Creator yet not in any of his Creations, we will comfortably rely upon the will of God.
Chapter 3 – The prerequisites to trusting God.
There are five factors that are prerequisites to complete trust in God.
Factor 1 – The knowledge that the previously mentioned seven factors on what create trust in another, is present in God.
We will now demonstrate how all these factors are present in God.
1. There is no Being who has more compassion upon his creation/people than the good-Lord.
Furthermore this compassion is what creates the good will others have shown you.
2. No one can possibly know better than the inventor, the details, the components, the beneficial and detrimental additives or detractions for the invention, than its inventor.
This applies to a human inventor – say someone who creates a computer etc. – how much infinitely more so, does it apply to the Creator, who not only created the final product, but every part of the product (as we know, matter itself is an invention.)
Hence the Divine Creator is completely knowledgeable in every detail that can benefit or harm, add or detract to you.
3. There is no one who has the strength of the Creator; by his words alone he fashioned heavens and earth, fire and water, heat and cold, man and beast, fauna and fish – by his words, the wise can become fools, the strong impotent – hence, the Creator’s ability is beyond all abilities.
4. The Creator continuously and conscientiously cares about each person – furthermore, his care for one person does not detract for his care for another (this notion of finite focus, a limited quality in a human, namely that focus on one matter detracts from another, can be best abrogated by understanding the infinite nature of a supercomputer that can, like google does, instantaneously, answer a billion individual questions.)
5. No one can help or harm you, assist or challenge you, without the expressed desire of the Creator.
6. The entire reason you exist, is not because God has any need from you – as the verse states, “If you do much good have you helped God, and if you sin have you harmed him?” – it is simply unconditional love (like a parent gives birth to their child.)
7. It is imperative to realize that nothing can go beyond the boundaries preordained, neither in time, space, quantity or quality.
For example, when we are unaware of this, we imagine that the cause we see, is the effect. For example, a single grain (kernel / seed) of wheat, can give birth to 300 ears of wheat, each one containing 30 grains, meaning one single seed, can give birth to app. 10,000 grains.
Now it is obvious, that it is beyond the capacity of a single grain to reproduce itself 10,000 times. The same applies to the birth of a human from a invisible zygote cell – every animal, tree etc.
This teaches us, that the causes of effects are impossible through their own existence, to be the cause of their effects.
In other words, God is completely in control of all causes, and causes the causes to produce the effects (obviously this is in order to provide man with freedom of choice.)
We must have absolute knowledge that the Creator is aware of our every thought – it pays to bring the words of Tanya, “God stands above you and closely observes your every thought, speech and action and the intents behind them, to see if you are doing good.”
One must never combine one’s trust of God with the trust in his messengers – for example, despite King Assa’s incredible piety – when he placed his trust in his doctors, forgetting they can only heal based on God’s will, this spoiled the benefit of trust in God (for as mentioned, the way the trust-system works, is your benefit comes from whom you trust in, and obviously though God himself says, one must use natural means to facilitate natural results, we simultaneously must bear in mind that these means are on their own, completely incapable of providing the result.)
The fourth factor is obviously one must fulfill that which God wants of you – which generally has been revealed in the Torah (namely the Mitzvos, which can be studied from a competent Rabbi.)
One who expects God’s assistance but refuses his obligations, is like one who is hired by a company and expects a paycheck, without fulfilling their work duties.
Furthermore, how foolish is one who doesn’t realize that an exact understanding of your behaviors is constantly behind God’s decision on what should be your destiny (this is not to freak you out, rather to assist in understanding, that the Divine commandments which boil down to gratitude & goodness and kindness, are not a multiple choice.)
The fifth factor is the understanding that everything that occurs in this world comes about a. as God will’s it b. through natural factors (or factors that seem natural.)
Now among these factors, there are also near and far causes.
For example, if one desires water, they turn on the faucet – this is a near factor – but behind this is the water plant – behind the water plant ,is the municipality that built the infrastructure to deliver the water – behind the municipality is the source from where the water comes from.
Similarly, for example, when man needs to eat – the near factor would be lifting food to his mouth – behind that is the food in the fridge – behind that is the food in the store – and behind that is the money necessary to buy the food.
Now the near factors are always the easiest, while the far factors (pertaining to the human effort in creating them) are always the hardest (so for example, the municipality building, the pipes and water plant are harder than turning on the faucet – and earning the money to buy food is easer than lifting it onto your plate.)
The author now discusses why God made it that we need to exert so much effort to acquire capital to buy food etc.
There are two reasons why the Creator obligated that we should work for a living (for as we see, air, most necessary for survival, is freely available; water, generally available, etc.)
1. The Divine will was that man should be tested to see if his actions are based on faith, trust, and convictions; or based on selfish indulgences and lack of higher intent.
The mechanism behind this, is in the very means a person goes about in acquiring those things that man needs, for example, food – for the person whose heart is with God and convictions, will never abrogate the latter (convictions) for the former (money/food).
2. The second reason, is that those who have no need to work become involved in stupid indulgences (we see this clearly in the addictions of prosperous societies) and often, becoming arrogant/”entitled” they feel no need to fulfill their spiritual, moral obligations placed on them by God.
If a man strengthens himself in the service of God, resolves to obey him, trust in him for his religious and secular matters, steers away from reprehensible things, strives for the positive middos (character traits) does not rebel in prosperity, nor turn toward leisure, is not enticed by the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) nor seduced by the witchery of this world – the burden of exerting himself in the means to a livelihood will be removed from him, since the two reasons mentioned above no longer apply to him: namely to test him on his choice and to protect him from rebelling during prosperity. His livelihood will come to him without strain or toil, according to his needs, as written, “G-d will not bring hunger to the righteous.”
One may ask, we see those who are truly righteous exerting themselves strenuously and those who are truly wicked (for example Arab sheiks) who enjoy easy money (oil etc.)
The prophets have already spoken about this and explained that every anomaly has a reason.
However I will provide some explanations:
The possible reasons why a Tzaddik is prevented from obtaining his livelihood without effort and must instead exert himself for it and be tested by it, is as follows:
1. A previous sin for which it is necessary for him to pay for, as written “The Tzaddik will pay in the land.”
2. In a way of exchange; to pay him more good in Olam Haba (the afterlife) as written, “To benefit you in your end.”
3. To demonstrate his good bearing and good acceptance of suffering in the service of God that others will learn from him, as you know from the matter of Iyov.
4. Due to the wickedness of his generation God tests him with poverty, hardship or sickness, to demonstrate/contrast his piety and service of God, unlike them, as written, “Indeed, he bore our illnesses, and our pains, he carried them.”
5. Due to his not being sufficiently active in educating his generation, as you know from the story of Eli and sons, as the verse says, “And it will be that everyone who is left in your house will come to prostrate himself for a silver piece and a morsel of bread.”
Sometimes God sends good to the wicked for the following reasons:
1. A previous good deed he did, to pay him out for it in this world, as written, “And he repays those he hates to their face, to destroy them” which Onkeles renders, “He pays those he hates for their good deeds during their lives, to destroy them.”
2. As a temporary deposit, until God gives him a righteous son, who is worthy of it, as written, “He prepares, but the Tzaddik shall wear it” and “To the sinner he has given the occupation to gather and to accumulate, to give to him who is good in God’s eyes.”
3. Sometimes the money is the chief cause of his evil or death, as written, “There is a grievous evil that I saw under the sun, riches kept by their owner, for his harm.”
4 Sometimes it is given, to give him time to repent and become worthy of it, as you know from the story of Menasheh.
5. His father did good and it is fitting to benefit him in the merit of his father, as said to Yehu ben Nishmi, “Four generations of your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel” and, “He who walks innocently is righteous, fortunate are his sons after him” and, “I was young and have aged and I have not seen a righteous man forsaken, nor his descendent’s begging bread.”
6. Sometimes it is to test those who are deceptive and have an evil interior. When they see the wicked prosper, they quickly stray from the service of God and hasten to win the favor of the wicked and to learn from their actions. In this way it will be clarified, the pure men to G-d and it will be demonstrated who was faithful to God; bearing at a time when the wicked rule and persecute him. He will receive reward from the Creator for this, as you know of the story of Elyiahu and Isabayel or Yirmiyahu and the King of his generation.
How To Choose An Occupation
There are obviously many types of occupations, some are more intellectual, such as accounting, lawyer, trading, while others are more physical such as driving, building etc.
A person who is intellectually strong and physically weak, should consider an intellectual occupation, while a person who is physically strong and intellectually weak, should consider the latter type.
Now God has implanted within every person a natural desire, toward the type of occupation he is most suited for – we see this clearly in the nature of animals, that their bodies are suited to their predilections in food, the Panda for bamboo, the eagle for catching fish etc. – hence every person has a propensity for a certain occupation which he is most suited for. One should pursue this single-mindedly; accept the good and bad times (for in any event, one’s salary is determined by God.)
Intentions During Work
While working, a person must bear in mind, that the reason I am working is too fulfill God’s desire of populating this world, as God said to Abraham “Be Fruitful and Multiply and Occupy this world.”
He will be rewarded for his intention, whether or not his efforts succeed or not.
If the means employed fail to provide one with a livelihood, one should never be despondent, but realize, in the Infinite eyes of the Creator, all means are equal. It pays to write the story, of the times when the Jews would make their livelihood from selling vodka in Russai and a crippling tax was introduced and hence many were facing economic ruin and as they beseeched the Alter Rebbe for a blessing; so when he came into the Synagogue he announced, “God is not limited, he can provide a means of a livelihood without vodka” and truly that was a very prosperous year.
Chapter 4 – When trust is applicable
We need to place our trust in God for the following two things: 1. Matters pertaining to this world and 2. Matters pertaining to the next.
Regarding matters pertaining to this world, this is subdivided into two.
- Matters pertaining to this world for the benefit of this world.
- Matters pertaining to this world for the benefit of the afterlife.
# 1. Matters of this world pertaining to the benefit of this world is subdivided into three parts:
- Those things that are exclusively beneficial to the body.
- Those things that are for the benefit of one’s maintenance and prosperity.
- Those things that are for the benefit of one’s dependents or friends.
#2 Matters pertaining to this world, that will secure a place in the world to come:
- Duties that relate to oneself but not others
- Duties that involve another – where one person is a giver and the other receiver, such as charity, imparting wisdom etc.
Matters pertaining to the next world, are subdivided into two:
- The reward which is deserved.
- That which is a unique kindness bestowed by the Creator for the pious and prophets in the next world.
From all of the above, it results, that there are seven categories in total, for which we must place our trust in God.
- Matters pertaining to the body
- Matter pertaining to one’s possessions and livelihood
- Matters relating to one’s dependents, friends and associations, both good or bad.
- Duties that relate to oneself but not others.
- Duties that involve others, such as charity, imparting wisdom etc.
- Reward in the afterlife based on one’s effort.
- Reward in the afterlife, which is simply God’s benevolence, compassion and love.
Now we will explain in what instance should we place our trust in the Creator in each of these seven categories and when are we required to make effort.
# 1 Matters pertaining to the body
- Life and death
- Income for food clothing and shelter
- Health and illness
In all of these a person should place his complete faith in God, knowing that just as his life and death are solely from God, similarly his livelihood, illness and health.
At the same time one mustn’t ignore the natural means that the Creator obligates man in order to stay healthy, earn a living etc. – provided one doesn’t become too stressed, indicating lack of trust.
Income for food, clothing and shelter
The proper trust is as mentioned, namely, one must simultaneously place one’s heart at ease that God will lovingly provide while pursuing the means.
For example, a farmer may not say, “God will help” and refuse to plant his ground; rather, he must plant and trust that God will send rain.
Closer to home, whatever profession man has chosen, one should attentively, happily and with faith pursue the normal route to its success.
If one finds however, that the rain tarries, or the means he pursues are failing, one should not give up hope, rather one should continue along the normal route, trusting that in the right time, the blessing will prosper.
Trust in regards to health and illness
Similarly regarding health and illness, the proper way is to trust in God and simultaneously pursue the means by which the body is made healthy – primarily as the Torah teaches to eat healthily and to listen to the instructions of the doctors (without playing doctor.)
#2 Matters pertaining to possessions and earing a livelihood
The proper way is to trust that following whatever career path, profession etc. (as discussed) one is suited for, one then relies completely that the Creator’s will is perfect in how much he will earn.
If the Creator desires him to earn more, this will come without much effort.
How foolish the person who strenuously tries business after business – particularly if not suited for his personality – in the off-chance his gains shall exceed his investment.
Proper trust in God for the wealthy
It happens often (as will be discussed) that God decrees someone should be wealthy – this is one of the greatest tests possible, for the purpose of the wealth is three-fold:
- The sustenance of the individual.
- The sustenance of all those dependent, so for -example it has already been decreed that someone should be wealthy in order to be the source of livelihood for others.
- Money deposited in his “account” which will be forward one day to another (whether by inheritance etc.)
Now the trusting person realizes, that this money is for the above three reasons, hence happily dispenses with it.
Why the masses pursue and revere money
The subconscious reason why people pursue money and honor the wealthy is that people desire recognition.
In their blindness, they think that if they will have money people will honor them.
What they don’t understand is, that the person who honors the wealthy doesn’t care at all about the person whom he is honoring, rather as the story of a wealthy man who lost his friends when he lost his money, and upon having fate shine on him and his friends desiring his good grace again, he would take out his wallet and say “please say Hi to your only “friend.””
Dealing with tight finances
If one finds one’s finances are tight, one should realize that “God knows exactly what is my best interest.”
Similarly, if one’s finances come at an exact time, one should realize that, “the Creator knows exactly what’s in my best interest.”
Again, if one’s livelihood comes though a specific means or person, one should realize, that “the Creator knows exactly what’s in my best interest.”
#3 Matters relating to one’s dependents, friends and others
In general a person is in one of two situations – either they are with or without others.
If a person is alone, let him trust that God is always with him, let him see the blessing of not being obligated to another.
The story is told of a mystic who traveled and saw a village in which there were only men – “why have you not married” he inquired – “We all have wives” they replied “however we created a village in which we go to visit, as we have found, it is a distraction of the heart and mind, and we wish to have the solitude to prepare ourselves for the heavenly journey which man goes to alone.”
If one does have a family
He should strive to fulfill his duties to them, to do their wishes, to be wholehearted with them. He should refrain from causing any harm to them, try to promote what is good for them. He should deal faithfully towards them in all matters, and teach them the ways that will be beneficial for them in their religious matters and the secular ways which benefit the service of God. All of this fulfills the primary commandment, “Love your friend as yourself” and “Do not hate your brother in your heart.”
Do not do this out of hope for future benefits from them or out of paying them back for past benefit.
Nor should you do this out of love of being honored or praised by them, or out of desire to rule over them – but rather with the sole motive to fulfill the commandment of the Creator and to encourage them to follow in the Creator’s ways.
The person whose motive in fulfilling their wishes is one of the bad ones we mentioned above, will not obtain what he wants from them in this world. He will tire himself for nothing and will lose his reward in the afterlife. But if his sole motive is to serve God, the Almighty will help them to make a return to him in this world and God will place his praise in their mouths and they will hold him in high esteem and he will reach the great reward in the afterlife, as the Almighty said to Shlomoh, “Also what you did not ask I will give you, also wealth and honor.”
Dealing with others
If you need to request something of another, relax, like the farmer who plants his field must rely on God and if the field doesn’t produce, he wouldn’t blame the field, similarly, one should place one’s faith only in God.
If the person did help, you should thank them, for as our sages teach, God chooses the good to do good.
If the person couldn’t help you, you should thank them for desiring to, and understand that this is the will of God.
On the other hand, if someone comes asking you for help, you should, if the person warrants it, do all in your power to help them. If for whatever reason you were not able to, you should tell them that you tried your best (so they do not presume that you were lax about their desire/need.)
Dealing with one’s enemies
But for one’s enemies, those jealous of him, those who seek to harm him, he should trust in G-d regarding these matters. He should bear their contempt and should not treat them back in the same way.
Rather, he should pay them back with kindness and try to benefit them as much as he possibly can, and to remember in his heart that only G-d has the ability to benefit or harm him.
If his enemy becomes a means to harm him, he should judge them favorably, and suspect that it is due to himself or his past deeds from his bad start in life towards God. He should plead to the Almighty and seek from Him to atone for his sins, and then his enemies will become his friends as the wise man said, “When G-d is pleased with a man’s way, even his enemies will make peace with him.”
#4 Duties that relate to oneself but not others
Regarding the duties of the heart and the Mitzvos one must perform, there are three aspects to this:
The first is the choice one makes to fulfill them, the second is the choice one makes to act upon ones conviction.
Of these two, there is no one withholding his freedom of choice.
However with regard to the implementation, it is entirely possible that the means – for example the wood to build a sukkah or the money to give charity – is withheld from him.
One must have faith in God for the parts dependent on God, while act on the parts dependent on man.
Duties that involve others, such as charity, imparting wisdom etc.
When it comes to helping others, whether through charity or imparting wisdom, there is similarly the three stages of: the choice to do so; the choice to act on one’s intent; and the ability to achieve the intent.
Obviously the first two are both an obligation and privilege; however the latter is an opportunity which God may or may not grant.
One should be very careful to not seek credit or let honor ever get to one’s head, thus spoiling the deed and the reward for it – rather one must imagine that all of life’s problems are his duty (to resolve).
#6 Reward in the afterlife based on one‘s effort
There are three factors to our reward in the afterlife which is something we can scarcely comprehend, for we can barely imagine the state of the human when divested of a body, his soul assumes an ethereal form, yet simultaneously is still himself (a perceiver and feeler, a knower and enquirer, but without the physical needs.)
Firstly a person is rewarded for the good that they do.
Secondly, a person is rewarded especially for the help they provide in assisting others to do good – inspiring them to come close to the Torah and Mitzvos.
Thirdly, the very fact we even get a reward is actually God’s kindness, for if God were to make an accounting and a demand of our good versus the good he gave us; all of our merits wouldn’t even equal one of his favors (for example our body, the planet, parents etc.)
We must have complete faith – and it is one of our tenets of our faith – that there is an afterlife in which we are rewarded for our good and punished for our evil.
Though this is the fact, we should not be motivated to do good based on this, rather, we should strive to please God, due to the fact that the very reward and punishment to us is actually only God’s favor; for as mentioned, if we were to make an accounting of what we owe, we all would be severely in a deficit.
#7 Reward in the afterlife which is simply God’s benevolence, compassion and love.
There is an incredible bliss reserved for those who dedicate themselves to God’s work, but in order to get this reward, a person must loath the stupid pleasures of this world and truly love God and hence seek to fulfill his will.
A person who thinks that somehow he will get this great bliss without putting in the effort is obviously foolish.
The signs that one will merit this reward are threefold: 1. Instructing others on their Divine duties 2. Demonstrating patient bearing and acceptance in times of trial and travails. 3. Regarding all the vain pleasures of this world, as well as its anxieties as nothing compared to the merit to fulfill God’s will, as we see in Abraham, Chananyah, Mishal, and Azarya (who allowed themselves to be thrown into a fiery furnace in order not to violate God’s will) and Daniel (thrown into a lion’s den.)
Some get free passes
Whoever chooses to die in the service of G-d rather than rebel against him as our countless martyrs, whoever chooses poverty rather than riches, sickness rather than health, suffering rather than tranquility, submits to the Creator’s judgment and desires, in his decrees – such a person is worthy of the Divine grace of the Creator felt in the bliss of Olam Haba.
Chapter 5 – The difference between a person who trusts in God for his income and one who does not.
The difference between who does or doesn’t trust in God regarding his livelihood are seven:
- A person who truly trusts in God, is just as grateful for the bad as the good, knowing that they ultimately derive from the same loving Father (whereas someone who does not, gets arrogant from the good and angered from the bad.)
- One who trusts in the Almighty has tranquility of spirit and a heart at ease regarding perceived negatives, knowing that the Creator will arrange them for what is his good in this world and the next, as King David said, “My soul, waits only on God; for my expectation is from him.”
But one who does not trust in God, even when he is prosperous is always pained and in a state of continual anxiety. He is saddened and grieved because he is little satisfied with his situation and yearns to augment, increase and hoard ever more. And likewise in bad times, he is pained, because he is angered by it, as it runs contrary to his expectation and egotistical fancies. So too, the wise man said, “All the days of the poor, are evil.”
- One who trusts in God, even while he is engaging in the means of earning a livelihood, his heart will not rely on them, and he will not hope to receive a profit or loss from them, unless it is the will of God. Rather he see in them, as part of his service of God, who commanded us to occupy ourselves with the world, to maintain it and make it more habitable.
If these means will yield him a profit or help him avoid a loss, he will thank God alone for this, and he will not love and cherish the means more for this, nor will he rely more on them on account of it. Rather his trust in G-d will be strengthened, and he will come to rely on him and not the means, and if the means do not yield any benefit, he knows that his livelihood will come to him when God wants and through whatever means he wants; Therefore he will not reject the means because of this nor abandon employing them and thus he will serve his Creator.
But one who does not trust in God, engages in certain means, because he places his trust in them, hoping that they will yield him a profit and protect him against a loss. If they yield a profit he will praise them and himself for his exertion in them and choosing them, and will not try other means, but if they do not yield a profit, he will abandon them and reject them and lose interest in them.
- One who trusts in God, if he has more than he needs, he will spend it in a way which pleases the Creator (charity etc.) with a generous hand, and a open heart. As written, “everything is yours and from your hand, we have given to you.”
But one who does not trust in God, regards the entire world and everything in it as not enough for his maintenance nor sufficient for his needs. He is more concerned with saving his money than fulfilling his obligations to the Creator and to his fellow men, and he won’t feel anything, until all of his money is lost and he is left destitute. (This is a very profound concept for when a person is conceited, they lack any humility and without humility, instead of feeling fortunate hence grateful hence happy, they feel unlucky that their fantasies, desires and wishes are not fulfilled – sort of like a child throwing a tantrum who doesn’t realize how fortune he already is in that he has all his needs.)
- Now one who trusts in God engages in a means of a livelihood in order to also prepare provisions for his end and his afterlife, consequently he will only use means conducive to this.
He will engage means that allow him time for his religious obligations.
- The one who trusts in God, is beloved by all classes of people and they feel at ease with him because they feel secure that he will not harm them and their hearts are at peace with regard to him.
They are not afraid of him that he will take their wives or their money, and he also is not worried about them, because he realizes that it is not in any created beings power or control to benefit or harm him.
Therefore he does not fear harm from them nor expect any benefit from them. And since he is assured from them and they are assured from him, he will love and they will love him, as written, “He who trusts in God, will be so surrounded by kindness.”
But he who does not trust in God, has no true friend, because he is always coveting others and jealous of them and he thinks that any good that reaches others, is a loss to him. And that their livelihood, is taken from his own; and any preventing of attaining his desires is caused by them, and that others are capable of helping him to obtain his desires and if some harm comes to his money or his children he will think they caused it and that they are capable of removing the harm and problems from him. And since his thinking is based on these principles, he will despise them, slander them, curse them and hate them. And he is the disgusting one, in both worlds, regarded as a disgrace in both abodes, as written “A crooked heart will not find good.”
- One who trusts God is not anxious over the future, he feels not the need to hoard and to make infinite provisions – in truth, no one knows the day of their passing, hence he is more concerned about his provisions for the afterlife.
Chapter 6 – The obligation to refute the notion that one need delay serving God until achieving material prosperity.
Such people are like a merchant who sells his goods on credit but not trusting the client, demands a security (like a bank holding a property for a mortgage.)
There are seven follies in this approach:
- There is a fundamental difference between a merchant selling to the unknown versus being employed by the known; for while in the former case insecurity is appropriate, in the latter case it is foolhardy, for why would you seek such an employer, if you lack trust in his desire or ability to pay.
- Obviously one who takes a security does so based on limited goods, but if we seek security from God, at what point will we believe we are secure?
- If one takes a security from someone who has failed to pay his debt in the past, he is obviously a fool, and the more debts he has defaulted on, the greater the foolishness; however, the Creator, if we were to recompensate him for his incredible kindnesses – even if all the good deeds ever, were accumulated, it still cannot compare to a single kindness he gives us – hence to expect security from such a reliable “client”…?!
- One who takes security from another does so for one of three reasons: 1. Maybe the person will become impoverished hence unable to repay 2. Maybe the person will refuse to pay 3 In case the person dies or won’t be found; hence the security is only based on insecurity; however, if people felt secure in their knowledge of repayment, it would be considered reprehensible to make such a demand. However as none of these disabilities can possibly be considered to be a reality visa-vie the Creator, it would thus be a disgrace to demand of him a security.
- One who attempts to create security only through money, forgetting the Creator, very often creates insecurity, as our sages say, “The more possessions, the more worries.”
- If one had absolute certainty that another would pay the debt before the due date, and not only that, but double what is owed from sheer kindness, one will certainly not think about asking for security, so when we think of the abundant favors God has already provided…
- One who takes a security pledge from his fellow, is only justified in doing so, if he is able to supply him with the merchandise purchased, for which he takes the pledge. But one who seeks a security pledge from the Creator in seeking advance favors is not capable of paying for them in services. He is not even certain of paying back what he owes from the past debts, all the more so for paying what he owes for future favors, because the righteous man cannot pay back the debts of gratitude of the Almighty on him, except through the means of help which God renders him. And so one of the pious in his praises of God said, “Even the thinking person who has knowledge of you, does not praise his own religious acts, but rather praises your name and mercy, for you have prepared his heart to know you. Through you, the people of Israel will be found worthy and be praised, saying “We praised God all day long and we will forever thank your name.”
Chapter 7 – Things that can damage one’s trust and a general summary.
Now we will discus things that are bad for, deter, and decrease trust.
Firstly there are those matters discussed in the first three gates of this book.
In addition, ignorance of the Creator’s constant benevolence, supervision, love and total control over all matters that affect you.
Also ignorance of the Torah and its commandment, to rely upon God (and in general, the feeling of God’s existence, which comes through Torah study)
Another detriment is the tendency of man to think that the nearer the cause, the greater its effect, when the reverse is true (namely, that the further the cause, the greater the effect.)
For example, if a king told his Prime Minister to punish someone, the Prime Minister would tell the Chief of Police, who would tell an officer, who would tell a sergeant, who would tell a private, who would say, whip someone – now the one who can change this decree is least of all the whip, nor the private, the sergeant, the chief of police, or the Prime Minister, rather the king.
How much more so, as every single reality has come from the King of kings!
The Ten States/levels of Trust
- An infant born begins to trust in his sustenance from his mother’s breasts
- As he develops he begins to trust his mother who feeds him
- As he sees the respect his mother has for his father, he shifts his trust towards his father
- Once he is able to provide for himself, he begins to trust on his own capacity, forgetting that all his previous good luck was only due to God’s graciousness.
- If his livelihood comes from a fellow human being, he will transfer his trust to them.
- When he encounters things beyond his control, it is only then he will run to God, as the saying “there is no atheist in a foxhole.”
- When his knowledge of God increases he will begin to rely on Him, even for his livelihood and hence seek out easier means.
- When his knowledge of God increases, he will then transfer his trust in all matters to God.
- When his knowledge of God increases even more, his reliance will be absolute, accepting the good as well as the bad.
- When his knowledge of God increase more, he will abandon the very desires for the temporal (instinct) gratification of instinctual pleasure, nor fear the temporal frights (even shame). His sole delight will be in his communion with God, which he desperately seeks.
As his knowledge of God’s desire for him increases, he will happily dedicate his life toward fulfilling God’s will and not seek any reward neither in this world nor the next.
This is the highest level, of which the most righteous attain.
It is impossible that person is not in one of these ten levels.
May we merit to be of those who trust.