Behar/Bechukosai – The Perfect Security System

Trust in Hashem is one of the most fundamental tenets of Judaism. The Chovos HaLevavos in its introduction to the Gate of Bitachon writes that one of the benefits of trusting in Hashem “is tranquility of soul in reliance on G-D, may He be exalted, as the servant is bound to rely on his master. For if a person does not put his trust in G-D, he places his trust in what is other than G-D; and whoever trusts in what is other than G-D, G-D removes His providence from him and leaves him in the hands of whatever he trusted in.” (Click here fore Hebrew text.)

Along these lines we find in this week’s haftorah for the double portion of Behar and Bechukosai which takes place in Yirmiyahu perakim 16 and 17 that the Navi says: “So says Hashem, Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart turns away from Hashem. He shall be like a lone tree in the plain, and will not see when good comes, and will dwell on parched land in the desert, on salt-sodden soil that is uninhabitable. Blessed is the man who trusts in Hashem; Hashem shall be his trust. For he shall be like a tree planted by the water, and by a brook spreads its roots, and will not see when heat comes, and its leaves shall be green, and in the year of drought will not be anxious, neither shall it cease from bearing fruit” (Yirmiyahu 17:5-8).

A person can have two types of bitachon: (a) trust in Hashem, and (b) trust in anything else besides Hashem. The Radak observes that the pasuk referring to one who trusts in “man” specifically says: “and whose heart turns away from Hashem,” because if he does not remove his heart from Hashem he is not bad. Rather, he trusts in man to help him and his intentions are that with Hashem’s helps man can help him; that is not relying on man. The Radak also says about one who trusts in Hashem that ‘He will be his security and he will not be afraid of anything bad.’

We learn from here that one who puts full trust in Hashem acknowledges that Hashem sends messengers to help him with his problems. These messengers are conduits between Hashem and the person, to help resolve any issues that the person might have. As long as the person realizes that they are just messengers doing Hashem’s handiwork, then he is blessed because he is truly relying on the infinite King Of All Kings, Master Of The Universe, and Hashem is his true security system to get through life; what can go wrong? On the other hand, if a person puts his trust into the people around him, or his brute strength, knowledge or wealth and removes his trust in Hashem then he is cursed because, as the Chovos HaLevavos said earlier, Hashem removes His providence from this person and he only has finite intervention as a means of a security system.

However, according to this, one can ask the famous question: Why do bad things happen to good people (i.e. those who trust in Hashem), and good things seem to happen to bad people (i.e. those that don’t trust in Hashem)?

We can find the answer to this question in examining why the Prophet Yirmiyahu compares a person with bitachon, trust, to a tree. The Radak explains each parable. He says in the name of Rav Hai Gaon that the term the pasuk uses for the tree is compared to a person who only has faith in man, is ערער, which is actually a name of a tree which is thorny on the outside and bears edible fruit on the inside. The tree is in the hot, dry, and barren desert never enjoying the rain, it doesn’t even know exists in the distance. So too, a person who removes his trust in Hashem is like this tree which is not wet, but stands dry all the time, even though it does not die. So too this bad person will be involved in depravity his whole life and choose his death over his life. On the other hand a person who has trust in Hashem is compared to a tree on a riverbank which will never go thirsty. Its roots get sustenance from the river next to it and even if they shoot out to a very far distance they are still sustained by the water. Even if there is a heat wave in the area it is unconcerned because it is next to the water and the heat can’t dry it up. Its leaves stay fresh even in the autumn, unlike other trees. And even in years of famine where there is no rainfall it is not worried, since it lives on the riverbank. The tree will always stay fresh and bear fruits, even in the dreariest of times. So too this good person who trusts in Hashem, good will never leave him, and even when others will be suffering he will be in a good state and will be able to teach others his wisdom, to do good deeds and to share his wealth with others. (Click here and here for Hebrew text.)

If you analyze what the Radak says carefully you will find that both types of people live through the same life. They work and reap the fruits of their labor. There are hard times and good times around them; it is just that the person that relies on others, or himself only has a finite amount of security or protection to help him in life. So he might be prosperous for a while but things dry up, he might build a thorny security system keeping the fruit of his labor intact but eventually everything dries up and there is nothing worth living for. He misses the rain or the Divine security in the distance which could have helped him sustain his life and freshen it up. In the end he is left all alone, depressed, and unhappy, with no will to live, and looks forward to the day he will die. It might look like he has a good life, but it is really a façade.

However the one who believes in Hashem, not only does he have constant hope but there is actually something infinite that he can always rely upon, so no matter what situation he is in he can be confident that The Perfect Security System will take care of him, and therefore he can live to the utmost, happily sharing the wealth with others. There is no doubt that Hashem does help him get through whatever challenges or crises surround him; whatever the results are, the Hand of Hashem is clearly manifest. Who knows how much worse it could be without Divine intervention. What looks bad is also just a façade, because Hashem is right there helping him through it.

Bitachon is all in the attitude of a person but that attitude could shape his destiny.