There is an ideal called Bitachon which, loosely translated, means ‘assurance drawn from HaShem’, and is associated with tranquility and freedom from anxiety or anger. Anxiety and anger are preoccupying states of mind which drain precious resources from one’s service since one’s focus while anxious or angry is on the self and on one’s self-needs and less on the needs of others or on Divine service. Bitachon leaves one free to serve HaShem with all his heart and soul. We function better with Bitachon, we relate to HaShem more appropriately through Bitachon and we are fulfilling His Will when we relate to the world with Bitachon. We are also more likely to be successful in our endeavors when we approach tasks with Bitachon, a small benefit compared to the boundless reward we will receive for striving to attain Bitachon. This ideal state is built from a number of components. Each of these components can be acquired to varying degrees, resulting in more or less of the tranquility associated with Bitachon. These components include:
1. An awareness of HaShem as all-powerful and in absolute control (Emunah).
2. An awareness of HaShem as only desiring my welfare (Chesed).
3. An awareness of the existence of eternity (Olam HaBah).
4. An awareness that the good is not only in this world but ultimately in the next.
5. An acceptance of the limitations of human understanding of what is best for me.
6. An acceptance of reality as the backdrop against which one is meant to operate.
7. The relationship between human effort and reliance on HaShem.
8. An understanding of the concept of prayer and its role in our relationship with HaShem.
I think that it is only fair that we treat each of these components a bit more extensively (they are, after all, the core of a lifetime of effort). It should be clear, though, at the outset, that many of these components are likely to run quite contrary to our daily assumptions and as such will require a good deal of maturity and thought to master. This resistance gives us a glimpse into the real; the list of components gives us a snapshot of the ideal; and we’ll have to discuss the process:
The Real: My world is fashioned by me; nature is cruel; what you see Is what you get; if I don’t fix it then it will remain broken; I’ve determined what is best for myself and for the world; reality is the problem and I am the solution; and there is no one to turn to but myself.
The Ideal: I have the internal freedom to relate to whatever the moment calls for. I can focus on the divine message contained in the present moment because all other matters are taken care of by Hashem. I have no sense of anxiety or stress which is not related to carrying out the meaning and call of the present moment.
The Process: Clarification, thoughtful contemplation and application in my daily interactions (we’ll try to explore these more fully as we go along). Every little bit of Bitachon goes a very long way.
When I studied Bitachon, I was left more confused than before I began my studies. I see it as a contradiction. On one hand, we have free will to make our own choices and our lives will continue based on those choices. On the other hand. HaShem is in total control of what our lives will be like. Is this not a contradiction?
Hashem is always modifying our lives to provide us with the maximum possible opportunities to achieve our mission and closeness to Him. The one area that He leaves to us is whether we choose to take advantage of those opportunities or try to dodge them.
“All is in the hands of Heaven except for the reverence of Heaven.” (Talmud Bavli Berachos 33b; Megilah 25a; Nidah 16b) The playing field is set by Heaven; how we play it is entrusted in our hands and shapes our future opportunities.