Behind our anxieties is hiding the vulnerable part of us that wants to do the right thing but got hurt badly in being shaped…when we want to serve Hashem with all our might, He Helps and we can steady our ship through the tumult out of love for Him.
Can the Rav give a few examples of how we can feel like a “tamim” towards Hashem and realize that He’s in control of everything?
A: We are in a world being dominated by attacks from all kinds of forces, such as Islamic extremists, wicked people who are constantly contemplating ways of how to kill. If one tries to think logically of what causes terrorism, either he’ll conclude that it’s Arabs from Syria or from Iran, or from some other place in the world. But you can realize that they are all messengers of Hashem, and Hashem is using them to carry out His will – it is really not possible to handle them using our puny human logic. Hashem is leading them, and this is above the understanding of our human intellect.
The wisest people in the world perhaps can wonder of how to deal with them, but do they know what’s enabling them to act? No, because it is Hashem Himself who is letting them act. The wise people in the world can try to think and think of what to do about them, but Hashem lets them act as He wills, and all of their rationalizations are for naught.
A person can see that all that he does understand is but a drop of understanding in the incomprehensible. We don’t even understand the tiniest detail of Hashem’s ways. Reb Noach of Kobrin zt”l said that without emunah, it’s not possible to leave the house, and with emunah, one can conquer everything. Most people though are leaving their homes each day without emunah, out of immaturity towards life. But when a person has true understanding, and he thinks, he can see how the entire world is being led by Hashem, and that we have no comprehension of anything, and we can’t predict even the next moment. So how do we survive in this world? Only through using the depth of the power temimus!
If a person has emunah, can he understand terrorism today?
A: There is some small amount of comprehension we can have in Hashem’s ways, but to know all of His ways is above our understanding.
If a person has emunah, will he be protected from the terrorism of today?
A: The Rambam says in Moreh Nevuchim that a person will receive individual protection by Hashem the more emunah he has. The more a person has emunah, the more he can prevent the forces of evil from breaking loose upon this world. We can’t stop it totally, because Hashem has His ways that we don’t understanding, but yes, to a certain extent, we can definitely lessen the terrorism in this world by strengthening our emunah.
Are there things today we are doing which prevent us from having temimus?
A: All that we see with our physical eyes can take away our temimus. For example, you see your house, and you naturally think that some contractor built it. You get used to thinking that people do everything in this world. When a person reads and hears the news all the time and he keep hearing/reading the opinions of others people, how each person understands things, and this makes us think that people are in charge of this world. It is the opposite of emunah which is to believe that Hashem runs the world, and the only thing which we can do is to use our power of free will. All of the news outlets (whether secular or Jewish newspapers, or even the most Chareidi newspapers) contain outright heresy. They all are indicating that people run the world. The more a person lives a life of temimus, the more he views the world through different lenses. He is aware that whenever a person does something, he is merely a messenger of Hashem. But when we get used to reading [or hearing] the news on a set basis, we get used to thinking that people run this world which is the opposite of a temimus kind of life. If someone can hear the news all the time and tell himself that Hashem is running the world even after all that he hears, [perhaps this would not be a detriment to one’s spiritual growth] . But if a person regularly listens to the news, he probably isn’t reacting that way, and it gets a person used to heresy on a regular basis!
How can a person feel how Hashem is doing everything when we feel all the time that we live in the real world and that it is we who do everything?
A: This is a very good question. I have to do what I need to do, but after I do what I do, I must tell myself that it’s not up to me, and that only Hashem does everything and let everything happen. On a more subtle note, this deep awareness can also bring one to bittul (self-nullification) and humility towards Hashem.
How can we feel calm and that Hashem is doing everything when there are so many troubles surrounding us?
A: This question goes against all our emunah. The Kotzker Rebbe zt”l said, “If I could understand Hashem, I would not want Him to be my God.” We do not understand Hashem or His ways. We do not understand His good ways and surely when He has to inflict pain upon us we don’t understand. There is a little we do comprehend but for the most part, we don’t comprehend His ways, so we must not question Him.
What can I do to actually calm myself down, in the meantime?
A: When you truly believe that Hashem is doing it all, then you will be calmed. On the contrary, if you believe that “this bad person” did this and “that bad person” did this, then indeed, everything seems bad. But tell yourself that no one is running this world but Hashem Who is endlessly merciful – all that He does is good. If you truly come to feel that Hashem is really doing everything in this world, not people, you will be calmed which is the depth of using your temimus. Perhaps one can try to “explain” the troubles we face today as an “atonement for our sins” or because “Moshiach is coming”, etc.. However, the way of our emunah is to simply believe that Hashem is behind it all, therefore all is good.
Adapted From Sefer Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh Volume 9, Chap. 8 (“Torah of Moshe and Torah of Moshiach”):
Our sefarim hakedoshim state, “The purpose of knowing is to realize: that we do not “know”. In these words, there is subtlety contained within subtlety.
Let’s say a person thinks, “Hashem does not want to me to know what His ratzon is”, and perhaps he bases this on this well-known quote, “The purpose of “yeda” (knowing) is to realize lo yeda (that we do “not” know).” Yet, even such thinking is not yet accessing lo yeda, because he still thinks that he understands! He thinks that Hashem’s ratzon is that right now he should not know, so he thinks that he knows what Hashem’s ratzon is from him right now. He won’t be able to integrate himself with Hashem yet.
Rather, the more inner perspective to have is that Hashem always wants something from us, but that His ratzon is hidden from us – and it is hidden from us due to our own fault somehow, since we have the power of free will. The proper way to go about doubtful situations is that we are in doubt about what the ratzon of Hashem is, and Hashem indeed wants us to know what His ratzon is – and the only reason that we don’t know His ratzon is somehow due to our own fault.
A person should come to the point in which he has no idea at all what Hashem wants from him: “Maybe He wants me to know what He wants; maybe He wants that I shouldn’t know. Maybe he wants something else from me other than these two options. I have no idea what His ratzon is.” If a person truly gains this perspective, he can then come to feel integrated with Hashem.
“The purpose of knowing is to realize that we do not know.” It is precisely when we feel like we don’t know anything that we truly access the state of lo yeda, and then, we can become integrated with Hashem. As long as we think we understand things – even if it is just about understand what Hashem’s ratzon is – then we are still trying to understand things, and we won’t be able to integrate with Hashem yet. It is precisely when we are totally disoriented about what the ratzon Hashem is that we can come to simply integrate with Him.”