Rav Matisyahu Salamon Shlita, explains the difference between Emunah and Bitachon.
Emunah is a “concept” or a “theory”, while Bitachon is Emuna in action, or the application of Emunah into ones everyday life and actions.
Therefore, a person can theoretically be a “Ba’al Emunah” without being a “Ba’al Bitachon”. However, if one is truly a “Ba’al Bitachon”, then he must also be a “Ba’al Emunah” – and by definition!
Our job is to transform our conceptual understanding of Borei Olam (Emunah) into a concrete and working process of having Bitachon in Hashem.
What is the meaning of Emuna and Bitachon?
We tend to throw around the terms “Emunah and Bitachon” in tandem and we often forget or do not clearly distinguish between the two.
If we can translate Emunah as “Faith”, then perhaps Bitachon can be defined as “Trust”.
What is ‘trust’?
Rav Shimshon Pincus Zatzal spent much time talking about the meaning of Bitachon and how it is realistically applied. He points out that it is a big fallacy to think that proper Bitachon is to convince oneself in the face of adversity and danger, that there is no problem since Hashem will take care of everything.
This is wrong? “It’s not so pashut at all, the severity of the problems we face”, says Rav Shimshon.
In fact, proper Bitachon dictates that one should be fully aware of the clear and present danger which he is facing and to utilize that appropriate fear as a conduit for harnessing and channeling his trust in Hashem to help him out of his situation.
Indeed it can be said that if one is unaware of or minimizes the severity of the danger he is facing, he is unarmed with the proper tools to place his trust in Hashem’s salvation. In other words, it is the very real fear of danger which can propel a person towards spiritual growth.
Rav Shimshon points out how it is said that the Brisker Rav Zatzal was a constant worrier. Indeed, during his flight from the accursed Nazis during the war, he would constantly exclaim “they are coming to kill us”!!
Can it be said that the holy Brisker Rav was lacking in Bitachon? Only a fool would say this!
On the contrary, the Brisker Rav was a realist who understood and appreciated the severity of his situation and predicament. He recognized the danger he was in and properly and purposefully experienced and used his fear as a stepping stone to greatness by never removing Hashem Yisborach from his mind for even an instant! He would constantly reinforce his Bitachon in Hashem’s protection and salvation. Had he not experienced the acute fear for his life, perhaps he would have become complacent and might have ceased to think about Hashem and that he knew would be more dangerous than anything!
This, is the epitome of Bitachon – trust in Hashem!
…Not a blind trust, but rather a deep trust which emantes from and is reinforced by the understanding of the real danger one is facing and the fact that only Hashem can help him! Only Hashem can help a person navigate through the vicissitudes of life!
Indeed, it was this very same Brisker Rav who Rav Pincus said (as he himself heard from his Rebbe – the Brisker Rav’s son Rav Berel Soleveitchik, who was traveling with his Father at the time) was stopped by the Nazis while escaping by wagon. They were all ordered out of the wagon and Rav Berel stepped out first, whereupon he was ordered to hand over his watch to the Nazi guard who said “thank you for this gift”.
The Holy Brisker Rav then exited the wagon whereupon the guard took one look at his angelic face and exclaimed “Das iz Eingetlecher Mentsch”!! – “This is a God-like human being”! and he quickly returned the watch to Rav Berel and allowed them to continue traveling undisturbed!
The Rav who never took his mind off Borei Olam for a second during these difficult times, merited salvation from Hashem!
Says Rav Matisyahu Salamon, to simply remain with our Emunah in Hashem, places us in the same boat as some of the greatest gentile philosophers who were also ‘believers’, but did not live up to and act in accordance with their beliefs.
In fact, there was a noted philosopher who espoused moral values and who was caught engaged in a highly immoral act. When he was called on it and asked why the discrepancy between what he preached and what he actually practiced, he responded by saying that “when a Mathematician becomes a triangle and a Scientist becomes a test tube, then you may hold me to account and expect me to practice what I preach”!
We see here the clear and potential disconnect between belief (by itself and in isolation) as an intellectual pursuit and a theory, versus the practical application and integration of this concept into ones everyday life and actions.
This then, is our job when we are tasked with becoming “Ba’alei Bitachon”.
We must train ourselves (for all that is required is simple training and developing habits) to actually apply our belief system – or Emunah, into the concrete efforts of reliance – Bitachon in Hashem to help us in our trials and tribulations.
<Heard and Adapted From Talks by Rav Shimshon Pincus Z”L and Rav Matisyahu Salamon Shlitah>
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