Devarim 5783: Special Topics: Different Levels of Bitachon

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After the Poisonous Snakes

In parshas Chukas, a famous episode took place where Klal Yisrael began to complain to Hashem and complain to Moshe. They were saying all kinds of nasty things. “Why did you take us out of Mitzrayim? What kind of food are you giving us?” And Hashem got upset and sent them a “present.” It wasn’t the kind of present that we’re looking forward to. You know what the present was? Hashem sent them fiery snakes. Very not geshmak. And the snakes’ poison burned very badly and וַיְנַשְּׁכוּ אֶת הָעָם וַיָּמָת עַם רָב מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל, “and they bit the people and many people died” (Bamidbar 21:6)

Hashem says that for people complaining and badmouthing Hashem and Moshe, Hashem sends forth snakes. And obviously, once this happened, Klal Yisrael did teshuvah. They responded. They came and said, חָטָאנוּ כִּי דִבַּרְנוּ בַה’ וָבָךְ, “we sinned because we spoke about Hashem and about you, Moshe” (v. 7). And they asked Moshe to please daven to Hashem to remove the snakes. Moshe davened to Hashem and the snakes disappeared, according to many of the Rishonim, al yedei the tefilos. Some Rishonim say the snakes didn’t disappear until Hashem told Moshe Rabeinu, עֲשֵׂה לְךָ שָׂרָף, “make for yourself a pole” and put a copper serpent on top of the pole (v. 8). He had the workers create a copper serpent and they put it in a very high place where people were able to see it and anybody who got bitten by the snake was able to look at the serpent and become healed.

So the mishnah (Rosh Hashanah 29a) asks the obvious question: “Do snakes heal? Do snakes kill?”[i] The mishnah answers: When Klal Yisrael looked at the snake, it reminded them that the one in charge is Hashem and the one whom they wronged was Hashem. Klal Yisroel understood that they brought upon themselves this challenge. And they were m’shabed themselves, they subjugated their minds to Hashem, and they got healed. And if they hadn’t, they would have perished.

Hashem’s Cheshbon in Saving People

Now, there is a sefer written by the son of the Rambam, the great Rabeinu Avraham (1186-1237). In one of the sections of that sefer (‘המספיק לעובדי ה), he discusses the subject of bitachon. And he says that sometimes, a person could have bitachon in Hashem and in spite of that, Hashem has hidden reasons why He does not save that person. He gives an example of the asarah harugei malchus. It’s not because Hashem could not save them, but there are reasons that are hidden from mankind and only known by Hashem. And then, he says, there are people that sometimes live above nature, lemaalah min hatevah. And if a person lives lemaalah min hatevah, Hashem shows him special hashgachah pratis and then natural factors have no power over him.

In the perek יֹשֵׁב בְּסֵתֶר עֶלְיוֹן (Tehillim 91), it says: עַל שַׁחַל וָפֶתֶן תִּדְרֹךְ – “Upon the lion cubs and vipers you will tread.” And he says, such an episode was demonstrated in this story of this week’s parshah. The yidden were faced with a terrible calamity, a tragic situation – imagine thousands upon thousands of fiery serpents. Most people that I know are scared of snakes and even if they are not scared of snakes, they are definitely scared of snake bites. And of fiery snakes that provide a terrible burn, that surely people are petrified of. And Moshe Rabeinu told them, “You want to get healed? I’m going to tell you what you have to do. You’re going to have to rise above teva. You need to acknowledge that everything happens is from Hashem and there is no teva in the world, and if you connect your hearts to Hakadosh Baruch Hu bashamayim, then you will be healed. The natural events, phenomena of snakes will have their power diminished and turned off.”

And that wasn’t easy. For a person to rise quickly to such a madreiga, where you’re turning your heart to Hashem and taking a leap of faith, is something that is very difficult to do. But when a person is facing a life and death situation, you know what happens? The person rises to great heights in a very short time. So Hashem told them, “If you can, rise to that level now.”

If a person is bitten by a snake and the poison is coursing through the person’s body, burning like fire, and the person is starting to blow up from the poison, he could then rise to the occasion. And the people who were zocheh to rise to the occasion made it.

He says, similarly, we find in the gemara in Berachos (33a) that there was a certain place where they were suffering from a snake and it used to bite people. So the people came to R’ Chanina ben Dosa and they told him their problem. ”Could you help us?” You know what he said? He said, “Show me where the hole that the snake goes into is.” And they showed him. And what did he do? He put the heel of his foot into the entrance of that hole and what happened? The snake bit him and the snake died. Then he pulled the snake out of the hole and he carried it on his shoulders and he brought it to the beis medrash. Can you imagine seeing R’ Chaim Kanievsky with a snake, one of those big pythons or rattlesnakes – like when you go to the zoo, you see these huge snakes sometimes?! Nu. Then he said, “Look, my kinderlach. My children, look, look. The snake doesn’t kill. The only thing that kills is cheit, אֵין עַרְוָד מֵמִית, אֶלָּא הַחֵטְא מֵמִית.”

The gemara concludes by saying that they started saying from then on, “Woe unto the person who was bitten by a snake and woe unto the snake that meets R’ Chanina ben Dosa.”

So R’ Avraham ben haRambam says, what is the pshat? Wasn’t it a poisonous snake? It was, he says, but R’ Chanina ben Dosa was somebody who lived beyond nature. He was so connected to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, so attached to Hakadosh Baruch Hu that teva had absolutely no effect on him.

There is the famous ein od milvado rule, that if a person can rise above nature and come to the awareness that ein od milvado and ignore everything else that exists, that person will not be subject to teva.[ii] But here, it’s a bigger chiddush. R’ Chanina ben Dosa wasn’t just asubject to that snake’s bite or its poison. He ruled over the snake! He killed it! It would be enough if the snake didn’t bite him. I would have expected, “Okay, the big tzaddik, R’ Chanina ben Dosa, will put his foot over the snake but it won’t bite him.” No. The snake came out to bite R’ Chanina ben Dosa and it died as a result of that. It was the opposite.

More than that, in our passuk we see, he says, the people who were bitten by the snake were healed. We don’t say that once they were bitten by the snake, it was too late. Hashem told them, even after you were bitten by the snake, if you understand that it wasn’t the snake that bit you, you understand it was your cheit and because you weren’t attached to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, you will be saved.

Four Levels of Bitachon

Then Rabeinu Avraham tells us as follows. There are four levels of trust in Hashem. And he says they are all interconnected. They all have shaychus with each other. And he says, each level is unique to each person, and even with each person, it depends on his matzav at that specific time.

Levels 1 – Expectation, Level 2 – Davening

He says, number one, is someone who puts his hope in Hashem and looks forward to Hashem’s kindness and mercy.[iii] This is a person who expects to get saved by Hashem. Now, the person may be nervous, the person is worried that maybe Hashem won’t give him what he hopes to get; he thinks that because of his sins, maybe he won’t be zocheh to get what he wants. But in spite of that, the person says, “I’m putting my trust in Hashem, I’m hoping for the best.” That is the lowest level of bitachon, he says. You’re putting your hope in Hashem, you’re looking forward to his kindness even though you know you may not get what you desire and Hashem may deny you what you want.

Level number two, he says, is a person who, in addition to his hope in Hashem and his dependence on Hashem, he also seeks out Hashem in his heart and with his mouth.[iv] He davens to Hashem. That means, this person’s trust is a little more concrete. He communicates to Hashem and expresses his desires. That person is at a higher level. A person who is on this level is also worried. He’s also apprehensive. And you know what he does? This person seeks natural means in order to get his desired results, but in his heart he leans on Hashem and he knows that the only result he will get is going to come from Hashem.

For example, let’s say a person has a sickness. The person hopes that Hashem is going to make him better. He even davens to Hashem and he communicates this to Hashem, but he is still apprehensive. Now, what does he do because he is apprehensive? He looks for the best doctor. But he knows that the doctor is not the one who has any power to heal him. Any results that he’s going to get from this doctor is going to be only the result of Hashem’s decree. That is the second level of a boteiach. He seeks Hashem, he is mevakesh Hashem, he hopes to Hashem, he davens to Hashem.

The Third Level of Bitachon – Premonition

And then you have a third level, he says. That is a person who takes refuge in Hashem.[v] What does that mean to say? He trusts Hashem and he believes in Hashem completely and is confident that Hashem will give him everything he wants without any doubts and he has no apprehension. He doesn’t have any need to resort to natural means. I don’t need doctors. I know Hashem is going to help me. I’m certain. Just because I got sick, I believe that Hashem is the roifei choilei amo Yisrael. Now, he says clearly, this level cannot be attained by everyone. The people who had it naturally were nevi’im who had that connection to Hashem and a few others. Very few people. People that had a promise from Hashem or were tipped off by Hashem that they were going to be taken care of.

Who is an example of that, he says? R’ Chanina ben Dosa. The gemara says in Brachos (34b) that people would come to R’ Chanina ben Dosa to daven for them and he would daven and then tell them, “You are going to die, you are going to live.” So they asked him, “How do you know?” and he would say, “If my tefilah goes easily and fluently, then I know it was accepted. But if it gets farhakt, and doesn’t come out clearly, then I know I’ve been turned down.” So he had a sign from shamayim. So even though he wasn’t a navi, he had a sign from shamayim that allowed him to know that his tefilos were accepted.

Human beings sometimes are zocheh to that on occasion. Hashem shows them a mish’an, Hashem shows them a hashgachah pratis. And this person, he says, doesn’t rely on his tzidkus, his righteousness. What he relies on completely is Hashem’s kindness and he is certain that because of Hashem’s kindness, his desire will be realized. He says, the way to attain such a madreigah is that a person has to work intensely in his belief of Hashem. You have to be mechazek your emunah and bitachon constantly. Then, that person can be zocheh to what is called a premonition. Hashem gives you a premonition about a specific matter.

This person now relies on Hashem because of the premonition, even though Hashem didn’t tell him clearly. He brings an example of this from the gemara (Berachos 60a). Hillel was once on his way into his city, where he lived, and they heard some screaming coming from a house. So Hillel said as follows, “I am certain that it has no shaychus to my house.” That’s what he said. So they asked him, “How do you know?” He said, “I know.” The gemara says, about him the passuk מִשְּׁמוּעָה רָעָה לֹא יִירָא (Tehillim 112:7) a man is not afraid of possible ra because ’נָכוֹן לִבּוֹ בָּטֻחַ בַּה – “his heart is firm in his bitachon of Hashem.” That means, Hillel sensed that nothing happened to his house. He had a sense, he had like a premonition, that it has no shaychus to him.

A lot of times you have farkert. People have premonitions, “Uh oh, maybe that’s my kid. Maybe something happened in my house.”

I remember a story where I was involved in a bombing, the first bus bombing in Yerushalayim. I was present. At the time, I didn’t know it was the first bus bombing. Recently, I was reading a story about that bombing and it said it was the first bus bombing in Yerushalayim. There were two people that died in that bombing. One of them was a person I was metapel with. I went to the home to be menachem avel and the wife said that she heard the boom. It was nowhere close to her house. She left her house, she was pregnant, and she started running in the direction where she saw all the cops going. She had a premonition, she said, “My husband is there.” I said, “Why would you even think so? There are thousands of people, why would you even dream that your husband was there?” It was a premonition.

A person has to know that Hakadosh Baruch Hu lets a person connect to Him. A person who is in tune with Hakadosh Baruch Hu has more of a connection to Him. Now, there are exercises that a person can do to get in tune with Hakadosh Baruch Hu. How is that? There are some people that thank Hashem. After the fact, they will say, “Hashem, thank You I didn’t have an accident this week. Thank you that I slept good this week.” But then, there are people who do exercises when they go to sleep, and they say, בְּיָדְךָ אַפְקִיד רוּחִי, “in Your hands I’m depositing my soul” (Tehillim 13:6). They say, “Hashem I’m going to sleep well, because I’m going to sleep in Your hands.” Here’s a guy that is driving to work. He says, Hashem, “I’m going to arrive at my place of work because You are going to be with me.” A person takes a walk to the yeshivah or he takes a walk home from the yeshivah and he says, “I’m going to make it to the yeshivah, I’m going to come home safely because Hashem is with me.” That is different than the person who doesn’t think at the time about Hashem but afterwards, he says, “Thank you Hashem for not creating any challenges to me.” This is the exercises that a person can do. And every time you do that exercise, you are being mekayem a mitzvah d’oreisa of being boiteiach in Hashem. And as  a result of being connected to Hashem, Hashem will also give you premonitions and Hashem will show you things.

Here is a person who is sitting and eating his food and he’s enjoying it. Most people never think about thanking Hashem when they are eating and enjoying the food. Some people thank Hashem when they bentch, maybe. On rare occasions. But if you say while you are eating, “Hashem, I’m enjoying this food. I’m going to enjoy this meal because You are with me. You are providing me with this food, You are providing me with the means to enjoy it,” then, you will get that joy.

Sometimes you get a sense, before you look at a food and say to yourself, “I wonder if I should eat this food. I think I should skip this. Don’t eat this food.” I remember, many times, I was with people and they said, “You know, I don’t think I should eat this food. I don’t think it’s going to be good.” I tell them, “Don’t eat it. It’s a sign from Hashem. Don’t eat it. Hashem is telling you something. It’s not going to agree with you.”

I once had a talmid who was in the army in World War II. He went out on a mission for a whole day and came back at night. It was late and there was no food for them. But they had prepared sandwiches for his platoon. He said, “I picked up the sandwich, I looked at it, it didn’t look good. I said to myself, I’d better not eat this.” He turned to somebody, asking, “What is this?” “It’s peanut butter.” He said he forced himself to eat it because he hadn’t eaten the whole day. He said, “There were 25 guys in the platoon – I was the officer – and I ate the sandwich. Within a couple of hours, I was delirious. I had food poisoning. I was sent to the hospital and for a couple of days I was out cold. And I remember thinking when I woke up, what did I eat that food for? I knew it wasn’t good for me. Hashem gave me a sign.”

And when he opened up his eyes, he said the doctor came to him and said, “You’re a Jewish boy, you know you shouldn’t have eaten a ham sandwich.” The guy told me this years later. Hashem gave him a message.

A person has to know how to be in tune with Hashem. If you live with Hashem, you become in tune with Hashem. And you can get a sense, if everything is well by you, or if everything is not well by you. Today is going to be a good day, today is not going to be a good day. If you think and you are aware of Hakadosh Baruch Hu’s kindness in your life, your strong belief in Hashem creates a communication that brings you messages.

Level 4 – No Hishtadlus

The highest level, level number four, Rabeinu Avraham says, is someone who entrusts his affairs into the hands of Hashem and does nothing natural.[vi] He never resorts to natural means. He knows it will make no difference whatsoever whether he goes to the doctor or not and therefore he is הַשְׁלֵךְ עַל ה’ יְהָבְךָ וְהוּא יְכַלְכְּלֶךָ (Tehillim 55:23). He says, what was an example of this? Avraham’s servant Eliezer. When Eliezer came to the well, he said that the girl who is going to greet him to give him water and his camels to drink, that is it. That is called doing no hishtadlus whatsoever ki hu zeh klal.

It says הַשְׁלֵךְ עַל ה’ יְהָבְךָ, “throw your burden (pekel) on Hashem,” וְהוּא יְכַלְכְּלֶךָ, “and He will sustain you.” This person puts himself completely in the hands of Hashem, he says, and he’s like a little child being held by his mother. He has no worries, no concerns and doesn’t resort to making any hishtadlus.

Those are the four levels of bitachon in Hashem, he says.

We Aim for Level 1

Now, we hope, most of us are on the lowest level. We are afraid, we are nervous, we are worried but we say, you know what? “I’m going to hope in Hashem.” Maybe a person will even try to be mechazek his bitachon by davening to Hashem. A person who has no bitachon looks similar to him, except the person who has no bitachon doesn’t trust in Hashem. He trusts in his good choices to find a good doctor. He knows how to go online and find the best medical care possible. This guy holds himself as a big mumcheh, he can figure out how to save himself.

Bitachon “By Choice” or “Forced” Bitachon

Rabeinu Avraham says that there are two main types of bitachon.[vii] There is a bitachon that one is “forced into” (הכרחי) and there is a bitachon “by choice” (רצוני), where a person chooses to be boiteiach in Hashem. He explains that forced bitachon is when a person finds himself in a situation that he has no natural means to rely on. For example, he lost all his wealth, or got bitten by a snake and he’s in the middle of the desert. He has no cellphone. Or he is climbing Mount Everest and has nothing or no one to turn to, nothing to rely on. So in these types of situations, he’s forced to rely on Hakadosh Baruch Hu. He has nothing else to rely on. He says, you find forced bitachon even by people who are non-believers. In English, we call that, “there is no atheist in a foxhole.”

I remember, there was once a doctor’s wife who was the daughter of a very big apikorus, a big denier of Hashem. He called himself an atheist. And she was maintaining her father’s shita. Her husband was becoming frum. And I remember speaking to her at length, trying to explain to her the fallacy of not trusting Hashem and acknowledging Hashem, and how sometimes a person might discover the reality of Hashem in a very unpleasant way. And then one morning, early in the morning, maybe at 6 o’clock, I get a call from her and she says to me, “I’m in the clinic. Did my husband tell you? They found something and it looks very bad. I’m in the clinic right now. Rabbi, I’m holding my husband’s prayer book. What prayer should I say in this situation?” I told her, “Listen, forget about the prayers. You’re in good hands. The Cleveland Clinic is a respectable institution. What are you going to do, prayers now? All of a sudden, you go religious on me?” She said, “Just in case.” I said, “You want to hedge your bets? You’re going to regret it afterwards.” She said, “No, if I want to pray to Hashem, where do I find it in the prayer book?” And I told her. I said, “Remember, this goes to prove the old adage, that there is no atheist in a foxhole.”

Anyway, about six weeks go by and now she’s baruch Hashem alright and I meet her again. I was learning with her husband and I met her. And she says to me, “Rabbi, remember that episode when I called you in the morning? I was so silly. I was so silly.” I said, “I got the proof. I’ll never forget that. There is no atheist in a foxhole. You’re fooling yourself. You were in a situation where you were forced to have bitachon, to acknowledge Hashem. And I’m telling you,” I told her, “it’s a lot better to acknowledge Hashem from a situation of choice than by being forced to acknowledge Hashem.”

And then, there is bitachon by choice. You deliberately choose bitachon. It’s when a person has wealth, he has his health and he says, Hashem, “I know that whatever I have, whatever joy I have, is only because of You, because of Your hashgachah. And I know my natural efforts did not bring about anything. You provided me with the money, I was in the right place at the right time. And I’m choosing to depend on You, Hakadosh Baruch Hu.”

Yosef Hatzaddik

I was thinking the application of this example would be Yosef Hatzaddik. Yosef was in jail. Yosef is in the dungeon. He has no recourse. At that point, he was forced to have bitachon. He had a sentence, he had no way to get out. They didn’t have any appeal system in those days. So the man is stuck in jail. He is forced to have bitachon. There is no natural means of him getting out. And then after ten years, something happens. Pharaoh’s servant has a dream. He ends up in prison with him and all of a sudden, Yosef sees a natural means of getting out. Now he has some hishtadlus that he can naturally do. Yesterday, he was forced to put all his trust in Hashem and rely on no one else and nothing else, but today he has a choice. Today he had to make a choice. You know what he says? He tells the butler, “Listen buddy, remember me before Pharaoh.” He makes the most minimal hishtadlus. He knew it’s 100% from Hashem, but Hashem faulted him for that. You know what Hashem said? “Until now, you had no choice. You were boteiach in me 100%. You were going to get out at the end of the 10-year sentence. But now, even though you trusted in me, you engaged in some natural means of hishtadlus. I tested you by opening the door and showing you a natural means of hishtadlus and you made that hishtadlus. And for you, that was not the proper way to go, so for that you’re going to pay with another two years.”

How to Read a Situation and Proceed

And that is what a person has to know. A person has to be mechazek himself and recognize that if he’s bitten by a snake, he’d better run to a doctor right away, even if he has a choice. Most people don’t have a choice. They are compelled to call Hatzalah. Hashem wants you to call Hatzalah in order to try to find medical assistance! If you’re in a situation where you are not able to do anything to save yourself, don’t lose hope and rely on Hashem. That is what Hashem wants from you. If a person chas veshalom has an illness, and the doctor says he can’t help you, you know what you do? A person should remember that even if he has to resort to some natural means, that natural means is another test for him. Do I believe in that natural means, or do I understand that the natural means will not help me ki hu zeh klal and the only thing that is going to help me is going to be Hakadosh Baruch Hu? Hashem doesn’t like when people rely on miracles.

So over here, in our parshah,Klal Yisroel was forced to rely on Hashem. They were facing a dire situation. Moshe Rabeinu says, “I’m forcing you. You have to rely on Hashem, get connected to Hashem, rise to a level where you are lemaalah min hatevah. That is what the doctor orders right now.” So every time you have an illness or you have a challenge, you always have to consider, how does Hashem want me to respond? Yiush, hopelessness, is never what Hashem wants you to do, as bad as the situation sounds and as bad as it seems! Hashem always wants you to rely on Him. For most people, Hashem wants you to go find a good doctor, do the best natural means you can do. People say, “Why should I find the best doctor? It doesn’t make a difference” But that is what Hashem wants you to do. He wants you to employ natural means.

Here is a person that was in jail – Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin. It is known that he worked on his bitachon unbelievably. Whenever a person came in, all day long he repeated, “Alef beis gimmel, alef beis gimmel, alef beis gimmel.” Alef – emunah, beis – bitachon, gimmel – geulah. He worked on his bitachon amazingly. But at the same time, he had a group of high-powered lawyers. Klal Yisrael raised phenomenal sums for him to make appeals and to try to do all kinds of things, and then he was zocheh to get out. Now, sometimes people are not in that position, they are not zocheh to that. They are stuck. They don’t have that zechus. They are in jail and don’t have Klal Yisrael raising funds for them. That person is compelled to put his bitachon in the alef beis gimmel, to rely on the Matir Asurim. That is what Hakadosh Baruch Hu wants from that person at that time.

So in every situation, you have to ‘read the tea leaves’ to see how Hashem wants you to respond and if you rise to the occasion then hopefully you’ll be zocheh to a geulah sheleimah!

The Bottom Line

If a person is on a madreiga to live l’maaleh min ha’tevah, Hashem will show him special hashgacha pratis where teva will have no control over him. To save Klal Yisroel from venomous snakes, Moshe Rabbienu purposely put Klal Yisroel in a situation where were forced to be completely boteach on Hashem, whereby, in the process of completely subjugating their minds to Hakosh Boruch Hu, they rose to the madreiga of lemaalah min hatevah and were saved from the mortal danger. To understand the basic inner workings of bitachon, let’s briefly review its four levels, according to the Rabbeinu Avraham ben Rambam. The first level is where a person, despite his checkered past, will look forward to yeshuas Hashem and the chesed of Hashem – even though he knows that he may not get it as Hashem may deny him his request. A person on the second level of bitachon – in addition to hoping to Hashem, he also davens to Hashem – so he has a more concrete trust in Hashem. This person is also apprehensive, as he seeks natural means to get to his desired results, but in his heart he understands that only Hashem will send him what he wants. A person on the third level of bitachon, is confident that Hashem will give him everything he wants, without any doubts or apprehension, and he doesn’t need to resort to natural means at all. Needless to say, this is a special level of bitachon, reserved for nevi’im and anshei segulah, like R’ Chanina ben Dosa, who received certain premonitions and signs from shamayim. The fourth, or the highest level of bitachon, is reserved for someone who entrusts everything to Hashem and does no hishtadlus whatsoever, as he knows it will make no difference. While this highest level of bitachon is called bitachon “by choice,” most challenging situations we face “force” us to rely on Hashem (like Klal Yisroel in our parsha) and  also  employ some natural means. This coming week, if I am facing a difficult challenge, I will ask myself whether I am being forced into relying on Hashem – because I don’t have anyone else to rely on – or whether I have a choice for bitachon, and despite having a natural way to get out of my predicament, I will only put my trust in Hashem.

[i] כַּיּוֹצֵא בַּדָּבָר אַתָּה אוֹמֵר: ״עֲשֵׂה לְךָ שָׂרָף וְשִׂים אוֹתוֹ עַל נֵס וְהָיָה כׇּל הַנָּשׁוּךְ וְרָאָה אוֹתוֹ וָחָי״, וְכִי נָחָשׁ מֵמִית, אוֹ נָחָשׁ מְחַיֶּה? אֶלָּא: בִּזְמַן שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל מִסְתַּכְּלִין כְּלַפֵּי מַעְלָה וּמְשַׁעְבְּדִין אֶת לִבָּם לַאֲבִיהֶם שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם – הָיוּ מִתְרַפְּאִין, וְאִם לָאו הָיוּ נִימּוֹקִים

[ii] ובאמת הוא ענין גדול וסגולה נפלאה להסר ולבטל מעליו כל דינין ורצונות אחרים שלא יוכלו לשלוט בו ולא יעשו שום רושם כלל. כשהאדם קובע בלבו לאמר הלא ה’ הוא האלקים האמתי ואין עוד מלבדו יתברך שום כח בעולם וכל העולמות כלל והכל מלא רק אחדותו הפשוט ית”ש. ומבטל בלבו ביטול גמור ואינו משגיח כלל על שום כח ורצון בעולם. ומשעבד ומדבק טוהר מחשבתו רק לאדון יחיד ב”ה. כן יספיק הוא יתב’ בידו שממילא יתבטלו מעליו כל הכחות והרצונות שבעולם שלא יוכלו לפעול לו שום דבר כלל. [הגהה: וזהו ענין מאמרם ז”ל במשנ’ ר”ה (כ”ט א’) עשה. לך שרף וכו’ וכי נחש ממית או נחש מחיה. אלא בזמן שישראל מסתכלין כלפי מעלה ומשעבדין את לבם לאביהם שבשמים וכו’. ר”ל כשהסתכלו כלפי מעלה להנח’ השרף והתבוננו בכחו הרע ועכ”ז בטלוהו מלבם ולא השגיחו על כחו הנורא ושעבדו את לבם באמת רק לאביהם שבשמים לבד היו מתרפאין. והוא אמיתת ענין המתקת כחות הדינים בשרשם. והוא מבואר למבין] (נפש החיים, שער ג י״ב:ח)

[iii] ואשר למדרגות הבטחון בה’ יתעלה הריהן ארבע במספר. המעלה הראשונה בהן היא שיהא האדם מקווה ומצפה להשגת משאלתו מאתו יתעלה ברוב רחמיו, הגם שהוא חושש ודואג באותה משאלה שמא יהיו עוונותיו מונעים ממנו את הרחמים. וזהו הנקרא מיחל לחסד ה’ ומחכה לו ומקוה רחמיו וכיוצא בזה. ופסוקי דויד בעניין זה רבים עד מאד: (תהלים ל”א כ”ה) “חזקו ויאמץ לבבכם כל המיחלים ל-ה'” (שם קמ”ז י”א) “המיחלים לחסדו”… (ועוד נאמר) (שם כ”ז י”ד וגם ל”ז ל”ד) “קוה אל ה'” ועוד (שם כ”ה ג’) “גם כל קויך לא יבשו” וכיוצא באלה. ו(בעל) מעלה זו הוא הנקרא (בעל) יראה ותקוה ועליו אמר דויד (שם קמ”ז י”א) “רוצה ה’ את יראיו את המיחלים לחסדו”. “יראיו” הם המפחדים מעונשו ו”המיחלים לחסדו” הם המקוים למתן טובתה, וכו’.

[iv] והמדרגה השניה היא מדרגתו של מי שעל תקותו ותוחלתו נתווסף הביקוש מאתו יתעלה, ביקוש פנימי שבלב וחיצוני שבלשון ובתפילות. וזהו הנקרא “דורש הי” ו”מבקש פניו” ו”קורא אל ה'” וכיוצא באלה. ופסוק מפורש בתורה (דברים ד’ כ”ט) “ובקשתם משם את ה’ אלהיך ומצאת כי” וכו’. ופסוקי הנביאים בעניין זה רבים עד מאד ובפרט פסוקי דויד (תהלים ק”ה ד’) “דרשו ה’ ועזו בקשו פניו תמיד” וכן (שם כ”ז ח’) “לך אמר לבי בקשו פני את פניך ה’ אבקש” ועוד (שם ל’ ט’) “אליך ה’ אקרא” וכן (שם ל”ד י”א) “ודרשי ה’ לא יחסרו כל טוב”, ועוד נאמר (צפניה ב’ ג’) “בקשו את ה’ כל ענוי הארץ”, וכיוצא באלה.

[v] והמעלה השלישית היא מעלת מי שבטוח בהשגת משאלותיו מאתו יתעלה ומאמין בזאת בוודאות ובלי ספקות. וזהו הנקרא “חוסה בה'” ו”מאמין בו” ו”בוטח בו” וכיוצא באלה, כמו שנאמר באברהם (בראשית ט”ו ו’) “והאמן בה’ ויחשבה לו צדקה” ונאמר באבותינו (שמות ד ל”א) “ויאמן העם וישמעו כי פקד ה'”. ועל דור המדבר יצא הקצף מפני שחסרים היו מעלה זו כמו שנאמר (דברים א’ ל”ב) “ובדבר הזה אינכם מאי מינים בה’ אלהיכם”. ואסף אמר (תהלים ק”ו כ”ד) “לא האמינו לדברו…ולא חכו לע” צתו” כלומר: לא דיים ש”לא האמינו” אלא אף “לא חיכו” לעצתו. ומעלת בטחון (שלישית) זו לא ישיגוה רוב בני האדם אלא רק מי שנגלים אליו בחזון נבואי ומבשרים לו עתידו, כמו אמונת אברהם אבינו כשנתבשר בחזונו על הבנים (בראשית ט”ו ו’) “והאמן בה’ ויחשבה לו צדקה”, וכמו יוצאי מצריים כשבישר אותם שליח ה’ עליו השלום על דבר הגאולה כמו שנאמר (שמות ד’ ל”א) “ויאמן העם וישמעו כי פקד ה’ את בני ישראל וכי ראה את ענים ויקדו וישתחוו”, ועל מעלה זו אמר דויד ע”ה (תהלים י”א א’) “בה’ חסיתי…” (שם ז’ ב’) “בך חסיתי… (שם ל”ז מ’) “ויושיעם כי חסו בו… (שם כ”ה ב’ וגם קמ”ג ח’) “בך בטחתי”, ולפעמים יבוא הביטוי בטיחה” במובנו הנזכר לעיל. ומדרגה זו היא הנעלה והנשגבה שבמעלות הבטחון ולא בנקל תושג, ולכן הגדילו הנביאים בערכה כמו שנאמר (שם ל”ב י’) “והבוטח בה’ חסד יסובבנו” ונאמר (משלי ט”ז ב’) “ובוטח בה’ אשריו” ונאמר (תהלים פ”ד י”ג) “ה’ צבאות אשרי אדם בוטח בך”. ומעלת בטחון זו אין משפטה כשתי המעלות הקודמות, שבהן חייב כל שומר-דת להחזיק בכל דרכיו, ואילו מעלה זו לא תיכון אלא במי שהוא חף מן העוונות ונקי מן הפשעים ותגיע אל השלימות וטעם מהשגחתו יתעלה (בשיעור) המחייבו למידת בטחון כזאת, כמו שאמר דויד (שם ט’ י”א) “ויבטחו בך יודעי שמך כי לא עזבת דורשיך ה’ “. ומאמרו “ויבטחו בך יודעי שמך” מורה על מעלה זו ועל מי שראוי לה, ומאמרו “כי לא עזבת דורשיך ה”‘ מורה על המעלה השניה, כי ה”דרישה” השלימה והנאמנה והאמיתית (הנובעת מתוך הפנימיות) היא אקדמה ל”בטיחה”, כמו שמסופר על ר’ חנניא בן דוסא במה שאמרה המשנה (ברכות ל”ד ב’) שהיה מתפלל על החולין ואומר זה חי וזה מת. אמרו לו מניין אתה יודע? אמר להם אם שגורה תפלתי בפי יודע אני שהוא מקובל ואם לאן יודע אני שהוא מטורף. ועם היות שבעלי המעלה הזאת בטוחים בהשגת מבוקשם, אין זה מפאת בטחונם בצדקתם וזכויותיהם אלא מפאת בטחונם בחסדיו יתעלה, כמו שאמר דויד (תהלים י”ג ו’) “ואני בחסדך בטחתי”, וכו’.

[vi] והמעלה הרביעית היא מעלת ההפקדה, ופירושה שיפקיד האדם את עניניו או אחד מהם בידי ה’ יתעלה ויערטל עצמו מכל צפיה ותשוקה עד שאחת היא לו אם ישיג דבר שהוא משתוקק אליו או אם ישיג את ההיפך ממנו, ונמצא מסתפק במה שגוזר ועושה ה’ יתעלה. וזאת המעלה, אם (אפשר למנותה) עם מעלות הבטחון, הריהי העליונה שבכולן, ואם אין (למנותה) ביניהן הריהי עליונה על כולן, (כל השלוש) שכבר ביארנון לעיל. וכבר נרמזה מעלה זו וגם נזכרה במפורש בתורה ובספריי הנביאים. הרמז בתורה הוא במאמרו (שמות י”ד י”ג) “התיצבו וראו את ישועת ה’ וכו'”, והקצף שיצא על דור המדבר כשבקשו מים לצמאם ואוכל לרעבם, ויש בזה רמז על חיוב הבטחון לפי המעלה הזאת שהיא מעלת ההפקדה. אלה הם הרמזים, והמפורש הוא במעשה אליעזר עבד אברהם באמרו (בראשית כ”ד י”ג ומ”ג) “הנה אנכי נצב על עין המים וכו’ הוא האשה אשר הוכיד ה’ וכו'” כלומר הפקיד את הדבר בידי ה’ יתעלה ובמה שיבחר ויחפוץ (ה’) ולא במה שהוא (אליעזר) יתכוון ויחליט. וכאן ברור העניין ואיננו טעון ביאור, ובספרי הנביאים ודבריהם (מציגו) מאמר דויד (תהלים נ”ה כ”ג) “השלך על ה’ יהבך והוא יכלכלך” – כלומר “מסור את העניין בידיו יתעלה והוא יכלכל אותך כפי מה שתגזורנה חכמתו ורחמנותו”. וזהו ג”כ פירוש אמירתו בסוף הפסוק “ובטח עליו והוא יעשה רצונו”, כלומר כפי מה שיעלה רצון מלפניו. אך אם הכוונה “והוא יעשה רצונך” אז מתחברת מעלה זו אל מעלת הבטחון הראשונה, כאילו אמר הכתוב “אם לא תוכל להגיע למעלת ההפקדה שעליה עוררתי בפסוק “גול על ה’ דרכך”. החזק למיצער במעלת הביטחה והאמונה כמו שנאמר (לעיל) “ובטח עליו והוא יעשה”. ודומה הדבר למאמרו (שם ט’ י”א) “ויבטחו בך יודעי שמך כי לא עזבת דרשיך היי, שהוא צירוף המעלה השניה, מעלת ה”דרישה”, עם המעלה השלישית שהיא מעלת ה”בטיחה” – כי כל מדרגות הבטחון ראויות לשבח ותהילה וכרוכות זו בזו, ומפאת הקשר ההדדי ביניהן תשמשנה בצוותא. כי בעל הבטחון יש שהוא במעלה הראשונה שהיא מעלת “התקוה והיראה” ויש שהוא במעלה האחרונה שהיא מעלת ההפקדה; ולפעמים מצוי הוא באחת ממעלות הביניים. ומה שנזכר במפורש על אודות ההפקדה בספרי הנביאים הוא מאמר דויד ע”ה (ש”ב כ”ה – כ”ו) “אם אמצא חן בעיני ה’ והשבני והראני אתו ואת נוהו ואם כה יאמר לא חפצתי בך הנני יעשה לי כאשר טוב בעיניו”. ולכך נתכוונו (גם) חנניה, מישאל ועזריה (דניאל ג’ י”ז – י”ח) “הן איתי אלהנא די אנחנא פלחין יכל לשיזבותנא. והן לא ידיע להו לך וכו’ “.

[vii]  ואשר לשאלה השניה, תשובתה היא כמו שאמרו (תהלים ק”ד כ”ז) “כלם אליך ישברון” ואמרו (שם קמ”ה ט”ו) “עיני כל אליך ישברו” וכדומה; ועליך לדעת כי “כל” כוונתו “רוב” וכי הבטחון יכול להיות הכרחי או רצוני, והרצוני יכול להיות כללי או פרטי, והבטחון ההכרחי הוא כמו שמצינו הרבה מבעלי העושר והכבוד והשררה וכיוצא בהם, אם יתרוששו ויאבדו את כבודם ושררתם הגשמית אז ישובו אל הבטחון – (הווי אומר) אינם דבקים בו מרצונם הטוב אלא בכורח הנסיבות וכפייתן מפני שנתבלעה חכמתם ונתאכזבו מן המשענת הרצוצה ובת החלוף כגון העושר והכבוד והבריאות וכיוצא באלה. ודבר זה מצוי תדיר אפילו אצל עובדי עבודה זרה, כי בטחוגם בפסיליהם (בנוי על ההנחה) שהללו אמצעי ביניים הם בינם לבין המושיע האמיתי, כמו שידוע לך מן המעשה במלחי הספינה שירד בה יונה (יונה א’ ה’): “ויזעקו איש אל אלהיו”, וכשהגיד להם יונה מי אלהיו אחרי שאמרו לו (שם שם ו’) “מה לך נרדם קום קרא אל אלהיך” תיאר הפסוק את פחדם הנורא מפני ה’ יתעלה: (שם שם י’) “וייראו האנשים יראה גדולה ויאמרו מה זאת עשית כי ידעו האנשים כי מלפני ה’ הוא ברח כי הגיד להם” – הגם שהיו עובדי עבודה זרה ! – ועוד אמרו (שם שם י”ד) “אנא ה’ אל נא נאבדה בנפש האיש הזה ואל תתן עלינו דם נקיא וכו'”, והלא יודע אתה מה עשה מלך מואב כאשר ניחם על שהקריב את בנו בכורו והיה בזה קצף גדול על ישראל (מ”ב ג’ כ”ז); ואף על פי שנאמר כי “הקצף” יצא מפני שאילצוהו לעשות (את המעשה הזה), אין זה סותר את העובדה כי כוונתו היתה (לשרת את) ה’ יתעלה בעת צרתו. וכן רוב עובדי עבודה זרה (עיקר) יראתם חוזרת אליו יתעלה אף על פי שהם טועים ותועים בדרכם. ועל זה אמר ירמיה (ירמיה י’ י”ז) “מי לא יראך מלך הגוים כי לך יאתה”. ולכן הגדיר (גם) דויד עניין זה באמרו (תהלים ס”ה ו’) “מבטח כל קצוי ארץ וים רחקים”. והבטחון הרצוני הוא בטחונם של יחידי סגולה המייחדים (את ה’), דבקים בתורה ומאמינים באמת ובתמים שכל האמצעים מקורם בה’ יתעלה, ולכן (נותנים) עליו משענתם ובטחונם אפילו כשהם בעלי עושר וכבוד ובריאות וכוח. ובכן, מאמרי הנביא (תהלים ק”ד כ”ז) “כלם אליך ישברון” ו”עיני כל אליך ישברו” (שם קמ”ה ט”ו) וכיוצא באלה, כוונתם שאם מרצונם הטוב ואם בעל כורחם הריהם חוזרים אליך ואתה הוא המפרנסם. [ואשר לבטחון הכללי והפרטי: הכללי הוא כבטחון כלל בני האדם בלשונם או במחשבת לבם. והלא ידוע לך כי סנחריב, למרות כפירתו, אמר (ישעיה ל”ו י’) “ועתה המבלעדי ה’ עליתי וכו’ ה’ אמר אלי”. כלומר: כל זה נעשה ברצונו יתעלה. וה (בטחון) הפרטי הוא כבטחונם של יחידי הסגולה הדבקים בתורה שאוכלים לחמם ובוטחים בה’ יתעלה שיתן להם את פרנסתם בעולם הזה, ובתוך כך עוסקים במיקח־ ומימכר ובשיח ושיג ככל האדם ומשווים לנגדם את יראתו יתעלה ושמים מבטחם בו ולא ביגיעתם או פיקחותם בעסקיהם, כמו שאמר שלמה (משלי ג’ ה – ו) “בטח אל ה’ בכל לבך ואל בינתך אל תשען בכל דרכיך דעהו”, הפירוש “התכוון אליו” וכיוצא בזה. ובכן, מאמרו (תהלים קמ”ה ט”ו) “עיני כל אליך ישברו” וכדומה פירושו או באופן כללי או באופן פרטי הראוי להיות נחלתם של יחידי סגולה הדבקים בתורת הי.]

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