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Home » Balak

Balak: Trust Fully

Submitted by on July 17, 2016 – 1:05 amNo Comment | 4,045 views

Relying On Trust

When our enemies threaten us with war, we can defend ourselves with our army. When they threaten us with abuse, we can counter with justice. When they threaten us with arguments, we can counter with arguments. But when they threaten us with spiritual curses and spells, all we can counter with is trust. Trust in Divine protection.

Of course we need to rely on G-d in each of the above scenarios. But it is most pronounced, when trust in G-d is our only recourse. When our ancestors in the desert were threatened with war, they responded with might, but when they were threatened by Balaam, a spiritual soothsayer, they had little in their arsenal with which to respond. All they had was trust. And G-d came through with flying colors. Each time Balaam opened his mouth to curse, beautiful blessings poured forth.

This raises a question: On what basis do we trust G-d to come to our aid? Is it on the basis of merit, that we deserve G-d’s aid? What of those occasions when we don’t deserve His aid, should we abandon trust under those conditions?

Three Trusts

The first reason to trust in G-d even when I don’t deserve, is love. I know He loves me, I know He is kind and generous, and I throw ourselves on His mercy.

The problem with relying on Divine love is that love is countered by wrath, and kindness is countered by judgement. We know that when we sin, G-d can arise from His seat of love and settle into His seat of judgement. In The Torah we also encounter Divine wrath occasioned by sin. I cannot rely on love alone because G-d might respond with severity and then I lose all reason to trust.

This is why it is better to rely on G-d’s objective logic. Even when I deserve to be punished, I trust in G-d to come to my aid, because logic dictates not to judge others until we are in their shoes.

Emotions are reactive, logic is proactive. I trust G-d to take the context of my sins into account. He placed me in an earthly body and surrounded me with temptations. If I have sinned, it is not entirely my fault and I surely don’t deserve to be judged in heaven where such temptations are unknown.

However, even such trust is risky because every argument has a counter argument. If I rely on logic, I risk a perfectly rational counter argument that militates against me. G-d might countenance the argument that He gave me a soul and a Torah and that despite all the temptations I should have known better.

This is why the safest reason to trust in G-d is to invoke my intrinsic bond with G-d. My soul is a veritable parts of G-d; I am hewn from His rock. Turning on me, is the equivalent of turning against Himself. This argument has no counter. This is a factual truth that cannot be denied. The only question is, why should G-d choose to consider our inherent bond?

The answer is that when I become mindful of my intrinsic bond and allow it to permeate my every thought, G-d responds in kind. It is a matter of cause and effect. When I choose to dwell on our bond, it arises similarly before G-d.[1]

Three Bonds of Identity

Just as there are three frameworks for bonding with G-d despite my shortcomings, so are there three ways to bond with a fellow Jew despite their shortcomings.

When a Jew commits an offense against me, my instinct is to take offense. Yet, when I contemplate that this is a fellow Jew, a member of the tribe with whom I share a deep kinship, I respond with forgiveness rooted in kindness and love.

But this is only possible when the Jew in question is lovable and shares some level of common identity with me. What if the offending Jew is contemptible and offensive in the extreme? Worse, what if this Jew refuses to identify as a Jew or bond with fellow Jews? On what basis can I embrace this Jew despite the offensive behavior in general and the particular offense toward me?

I can transcend my feelings and approach this person cerebrally. I recall that I cannot judge the behavior and feelings of my fellow Jews toward Judaism until I have been in their shoes. I don’t know their background; the betrayals, pain and disappointments they might have suffered. Even if I suffered my own share, everyone’s capacity is different and I cannot judge another’s idiosyncrasies.

But what happens if despite my best arguments for tolerance, the case appears to be open and shut with no excuses whatsoever? What if this Jew was raised in a warm and radiant Jewish home, surrounded by love, devotion and comfort? What is this Jew had the best Jewish education and the nicest teachers, the best friends and the highest grades and then simply rebelled against Judaism and behaved offensively toward me? How do I forgive this person under such circumstances?

The only solution is to remember that my fellow Jew and I are one. As I wouldn’t bear a grudge against myself, so should I be unable to bear one against another. And if I do feel able to bear a grudge, the fault is in me. I have yet to internalize the oneness of our people. Sometimes my feet make silly choices and my arm gets hurt, yet I never take offense at my feet because my feet and I are one. The same is true of myself and my fellow Jew only I have yet to internalize that awareness.

Works Both Ways

If I want G-d to focus on my inherent oneness with Him, it behooves me to focus on my inherent oneness with His children because it works both ways. If I am one with G-d on account of my G-dly soul, I am one with His children because they each have a G-dly soul.

I am not saying that without that sense of unity I have no right to trust in G-d. I am merely saying that if I expect G-d to come through for me despite my shortcomings, the least I can do, is accept His children despite theirs. Now how about you, do you agree?[2]

[1] Perhaps this is the deeper meaning of the idea (Likutei Sichos v. 36 p. 5) that we don’t trust in G-d because we deserve His help, but that G-d helps us because we trust in Him. When our trust in G-d is based in our belief that our father would not let us down, our intrinsic kinship arises before G-d and He responds in kind.

[2] This essay is based on Toras Menachem v 6 pp. 27-28.

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