Bitachon, usually translated as “confidence” in Hashem, is often confused with Emunah. While the two are inter-related, they are certainly not interchangeable. Emunah is the will and effort we put in continuing our divine service, when circumstances are unfavorable.
On the other hand, Bitachon denotes the optimism and self-confidence that Hashem is always with us. Bitachon then necessarily comes after one acquires the necessary Emunah to withstand the challenges we are dealt or move forward from our current state. It comes one step after and is based directly on it.
In other words, Emunah is a state of understanding, while Bitachon is a state of trust.
The implications of a life with Bitachon are incredible as we will soon see.
Bitachon in Depth
In order to understand the quality of Bitachonbetter, we must first go to one of the most beloved and famous sources for Mussar, the classic book ChovotHaLevavot (“Duties of the Hearts”). Written by Rabbenu Bachya ibn Pakuda, one of the most prominent Rishonim (sages of the Middle Ages), it teaches many of the basic and in-depth Jewish concepts necessary to live a life dedicated to and with closeness to Hashem.
In Sha’ar HaBitachon (the Gate of Bitachon), Rabbenu Bachya teaches us that “No creation has the power to help himself or harm another without the permission of Hashem, blessed be He” and that “Hashem has available all the means and all the methods of the world to provide for you”. In another place, he writes that God watches over you, He does not forsake, does not ignore you and is not unaware of what is happening in your life.
We might take these truths lightly, but how often do we fail to internalize them when things don’t go our way? It seems obvious, but we often need to be reminded of them over and over.
A different angle of Bitachon
But, Bitachon is not only directed towards Heaven. For better or worse, people tend to be overly critical of themselves. We often fail to appreciate our good points and truly understand how good and important we are.
In the Gemara of Sanhedrin (37a), the sages teach us that a person is obligated to realize that “for my sake the world was created”. Based on that, Rabbi TzadokHaKohen of Lublin adds that this means that, spiritually speaking, every person needs one another. On that line, Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Leib of Gur says that the Yetzer HaRah (evil inclination) tricks a person into thinking he is away from Hashem and doesn’t deserve His goodness. Rabbi Avraham of Slonim teaches one should not pay attention to the evil inclination’s attempts to dissuade a person in his holy service.
As such, one fundamental aspect of Bitachon is precisely Bitachon in ourselves!
The Kabbalah of Bitachon
Bitachon becomes a vital rectification in a person’s soul since it’s only with it that one can truly have Yishuv HaDa’at (peace of mind). Consequently, Yishuv HaDa’at is crucial for any spiritual endeavor, such as studying or praying.
The Arizal explains in Sha’ar Ruach HaKodesh(Gate of Holy Spirit) that, with every word we utter, we create an angel. This angel is a full-fledged creature that can then be used to reveal or teach us interesting things as a person progresses and is able to detach himself from physicality.
But there’s a caveat: the quality of this angel is directly related to the quality of the person who created it! So, a person can have angels that are rotten, that lie or that only get in our way, instead of helping us. The quality of this angel also depends on how well we rectify our Middot (emotional attributes), as these are the attributes it will inherit in its spiritual makeup.
Having Bitachon then enables a person to open up his mind and continue firmly in his Avodat Hashem. As RebbeNachman of Breslov was wont to say “There’s absolutely no Yeush ([reason for] desperation) in the world at all”. If Hashem is in control of everything, what do we have to worry about?
In summary, Bitachon is an integral part of our service to Hashem and, like Emunah, makes life a lot easier. It propels us higher, and also provides us with closeness to the Creator in a way that nothing else canwhile at the same time enabling us to irradiate light to others around us.
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