Emunah and Bitachon – Faith and Confidence

Part 1: Past and Future.

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Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh,

Rabbi Y. Ginsburgh
Rabbi Y. Ginsburgh
INN:YG:

Translated excerpts from Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh’s Hebrew classes

The study of Faith (Emunah) in G-d and Confidence (Bitachon) in Him is foundational for all those who seek to walk in the ways of G-d. A person of faith and confidence constantly strengthens those powers of the soul.

Faith means the belief that everything that G-d does is for the best.

Confidence means the belief that everything will be tangibly and visibly good.

Faith is believing that all that G-d does is for the very best, as Rabbi Akiva said, “All that G-d does, He does for the good”. Even if I do not understand it, as in the story of Rabbi Akiva, who suffered a string of mishaps and misfortunes that on the surface, did not appear to be good. But he believed that they certainly were for the best since everything that happens is from G-d and everything that G-d does is for the best. (In the end, all the mishaps indeed saved Rabbi Akiva’s life). Faith is the power of the soul that we employ when we do not understand why something happened, when it does not make any sense. It is then that we nullify our understanding and accept that G-d is orchestrating everything for the very best.

Confidence, on the other hand, is when a person is sure that all will be good, as in the famous saying, “Think positively and all will be good”. In Hebrew, the word for ‘confidence,’ bitachon, shares a root with a number of words with related meanings. One of them is ‘promise’ (havtacha). One who promises, keeps the promise. My bitachon is the confidence in G-d’s promise that all will be good, as I envision that good. I am confident in Him. Bitachon also shares a root with batu’ach, which means ‘sure’. To have bitachon is to be sure, sure that all will be good. No doubt about it.

Bitachon is like the light of day. Doubt is associated with shadows – ‘a shadow of a doubt’. Doubt casts a shadow on one’s consciousness. But a person who is confident does not have a shadow. Everything is clear to him and he is one hundred percent sure that all will be good. This is reminiscent of the well-known expression that the Lubavitcher Rebbe liked very much: Confidence in “obvious and revealed good.” Confidence is not a matter of faith that all that G-d does is ultimately for the good, even if it doesn’t feel good to me and I don’t understand it. Bitachon is my confidence that all will work out in the immediate future (not at some point in the distant future) in the very best, obvious and revealed manner.

In a way, emunah and bitachon contradict each other. But they have to go together. A Jew must have strong emunah and strong bitachon. The main principle of emunah is that one must accept whatever happened, to have faith that G-d is the essence of good and He is certainly doing this for the good, even if I do not understand it. As in the story of Rabbi Akiva, emunah applies to the past – to something that has already happened. I do not understand why it happened, but I believe that it is certainly for the best.

Bitachon, on the other hand, is what we employ in relation to the future – positive thinking – “Think positively and all will be good”. I am one hundred percent positive that it will be good - now. Good that I perceive as good - obvious and revealed good.






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