Parshas Behar – Trust and Faith
Transcribed and translated from previous recorded shiurim of
Rav Eliezer Berland Shlit”a
“And if you will say: What will we eat in the seventh year?” (25:20)
The questions, “What will we eat?” and “What will we drink?” are always in the back of a person’s mind. “And if you will say: What will we eat in the seventh year?” You want to know what will there be to eat? Hashem said, “You will have the best of everything. You will have abundance. You will lack nothing.” Hashem said you will have the best of everything. Hashem promised that you would have the best of everything! And you ask, “What will we eat?” Is this called having faith in Hashem? The holy Zohar expounds the verse in Parshas Behar, “If you will say: What will we eat…,” with a story: Rebbe Chiya and Rebbe Yosi were standing on a high mountain and they had an abundance of food with them. They had taken with them several donkeys full of food, and they stood on the mountain and witnessed a horrifying scene: two people were walking in the middle of the desert, and they came across a man who had gotten lost who had been sitting in the same spot for two days without food. He was dying of heatstroke, just seconds from death. And this man said to them, “It’s been two days and I haven’t had anything to eat or drink.” So one of the men gave him something to eat and drink. The other man shouted at the first, “What are you doing? Don’t give him anything. It’s forbidden! ‘You should guard your souls!’ This is a matter of life and death. I don’t allow you to do this. Let him die! What do you care if he dies? Your life comes first!” So the first man answered him, “What do you care if I give him?” And the other responded, “If you give him all your food, in the end you will ask me to give you from mine. You will want me to give you food, but I won’t give you anything at all!” Rebbe Chiya and Rebbe Yosi witnessed this whole scene from afar. They could understand from their movements what was going on, how one man shouted at the other not to give the man any food, and how the other man kept on feeding the weakened man, giving him to drink, strengthening and reviving him, until he recovered. He ended up giving him all his water and food and he was left with nothing at all for himself, not even a drop of water. As soon as the two men started back on their way, after only a few minutes, the one who had given away all his food and water started getting sunstroke. There they are in the middle of the desert at noon and the sun is beating down, and it’s 120 degrees out, and he collapses and passes out under a tree. His friend screams at him, “You see! I told you that you would pass out. I told you that you would die without food and water. And now, I am going to leave you here. I couldn’t care less about you. I am going to abandon you here in the middle of the desert.” When Rebbe Chiya and Rebbe Yosi saw how he lay there under the tree too weak to move, Rebbe Chiya said to Rebbe Yosi, “We have plenty of food. Let’s give him from ours. Let’s run over there quickly: we have to save him! Rebbe Yosi answered him, “Wait a while, let’s sit and see what happens. Certainly HaKodosh Baruch Hu is going to do a miracle for him. Certainly there will be a great miracle. We have an ongoing story here. Don’t’ jump in in the middle of it. Don’t run to give him the food. The world is not hefker! A person gives away all his food and now he is going to die? It’s impossible! A great miracle is about to take place!” They stood there and watched how he was lying there weakened, when suddenly a giant snake appears and starts slithering towards him—a huge snake that could swallow him whole. Rebbe Chiya said, “That’s it! He’s going to die now for sure! This poor man has to die such a terrible death?” Rebbe Yosi responded, “Don’t despair. He gave away all his food and water. He trusted completely in Hashem, for sure Hashem won’t abandon him now. Wait and see what a great miracle is about to take place.” Suddenly, they see an even bigger snake come slithering down the tree—much bigger than the first snake. He kills and swallows the first snake, and the man remains unharmed, under the tree, fast asleep in the middle of the desert. Immediately Rebbe Chiya and Rebbe Yosi ran quickly to him, woke him up from his slumber and gave him to eat and drink. And then they told him the story of the great miracle that had just happened to him.
A person must believe that before he comes to this world, Hashem prepares for each and every person all the help he will need, people to save him, and people to strengthen him. Wherever a person goes, with each and every move there stands a person to help him. Whether you are in the middle of the desert or the middle of the sea, there will always be someone there beside you. You are never lost. Hashem is found in every place—in every situation He is there with you. Every moment, the salvation is ready for a person. He just needs to cry out to Hashem one time—one real cry—and salvation is at hand. If you will only cry out “Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad!” or “Ana Hashem, Hoshiah Na!”, “b’zchut Rabeinu”, then Hashem will immediately save you.
A person must have faith, trust in Hashem. He needs to sing a little, to pray with kavanah and not worry about where he is going to get money from. For He who created you also created money and everything else. He created you even before He created money. All the money in the world is ready for you. Hashem wants only that you should learn Torah. A person transgresses, so the money doesn’t come pouring into his pockets—it doesn’t just descend from the ceiling.
But what are you so worried about? Everything has already been announced in Heaven! 40 days before a person is formed, it is decreed in Heaven that on such and such day he will acquire a home, on such and such day he will buy a field. What a person’s income will be—everything—has already been decreed in Heaven, even before he was born. The salvation can only come when a person really trusts in Hashem. His eyes should be turned to Hashem: “The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in its proper time” (Tehillim 145:17). In its proper time! Everything in its time. Everything that a person deserves comes to him at its determined time: an apartment, furniture, etc. Everything happens at its specified time, because the essence of physical existence is dependent on money, but worrying about money will distance a person from salvation, from an apartment—it will push away his income. A person thinks his whole life long about money, but he doesn’t realize that the moment that he will stop thinking about money, then the money will come to him—it will race towards him. What is income—“parnasa?” It is “par” (a cow) “nosea” (goes). You run after the cow, and the cow goes, it runs away. “Nosea” spelt with an ayin! The more you run after money the more it will run away from you.
The Rebbe said in Torah 225 that trusting in Hashem is infinite. There is no limit to trusting. “Trust in Hashem infinitely” (Yeshaya 26:4). Trust is an unlimited thing—there are no boundaries to faith and trust. The essence of perfect trust is when the mind is bound to Torah. Trust comes from intelligence! If you don’t have any intelligence, you don’t have any trust or faith. If you learn Torah then you have faith, but if you don’t learn Torah then you don’t. The Rebbe said that if you would just learned Torah, then you would have the intelligence to know that everything is from Hashem. So a person needs to learn a lot of Gemara in order to straighten out his mind, because according to the level of intelligence, so is a person’s faith. The more intelligence a person has, the greater mind he has, the more faith and trust he has.
Master of the Universe, please help me to be courageous and resolute in my belief in You. I shouldn’t be reluctant or hesitant to give away all my money in tzeddakah if needed, worrying about what I will have for tomorrow. Help me not to put my trust in other people, in order that I shouldn’t be in the category of “accursed,” as it says, (Yirmiah 17:5), “Accursed is the man who trusts in people and makes flesh [and blood] his strength, and turns his heart away from Hashem.” Please help me to have complete trust in You my whole life long, to believe and have faith in You alone and not to anticipate any kind of salvation from anyone, as it is written, (Tehillim 60:13) “human salvation is futile.” Please strengthen me in my belief that all my sustenance comes from You alone, not from any person or through any other path. Fulfill in me the verses, (Tehillim 60:13) “Help us against the oppressor; human salvation is futile. Through Hashem we shall act valiantly, and He will trample our oppressors.” And also, (Tehillim 61:7) “May You add days onto the days of the king, may his years be like all generations. May he sit forever before Hashem; appoint kindness and truth, that they may preserve him. Thus shall I praise Your name eternally, to daily fulfill my vows”.
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