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THE ART OF DEPENDENCE

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THE ART OF DEPENDENCE

Behar Behukotay

Sometimes we think that we go out of our way for other people. We give our money, our time, our energy, for other people. But in reality, the one who receives the most when giving is the giver. These last two weeks, I went on a fundraising trip for my father-in-law’s Yeshiva. A Sephardic yeshiva of 400 boys. If I had been home in Jerusalem, I would have for sure went to Meron for Lag Baomer like I go every year, and I would have for sure taken my children with me. I tried saving the Yeshiva, but in the end, the Yeshiva saved me, and my family. When Ruth spoke about her receiving grain from Boaz, she said, שֵׁ֤ם הָאִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר עָשִׂ֧יתִי עִמּ֛וֹ הַיּ֖וֹם בֹּֽעַז:  The name of the man that I did with him today, Boaz… Why does it say that Ruth did for Boaz? Didn’t Boaz do for Ruth? The Midrash tells us  יותר ממה שבעל הבית עושה עם העני – העני עושה עם בעל הבית More than what the rich man does for the poor, the poor does for the rich. (Midrash R. Vayikra 34;8)

Every year I would go to Meron and think that it was normal to be so squished. I thought it was safe that you could be in a place where your feet were off the ground, and the only way you could survive being “inside” by R’ Shimon bar Yochai was if you were tall enough to have oxygen and had strong enough elbows. But every year until now was a miracle. As I prayed in a shul in Brooklyn while I was fundraising, I noticed that on the wall was a sign that said, This room can have only 100 people in it. More than that is dangerous.

Sometimes we think that if G-d would send us miracles, if G-d would bless us, He would do so in an unnatural, abnormal way. And that when the everyday is normal, that is the way it is supposed to be. That No news, is just, Good news.

When we read the blessings and curses of the Torah we will notice that it is not that way. The majority of the blessings are simple blessings: that things are natural, normal, and functioning. Rain falling when it is supposed to, land producing grain like it is supposed to, trees bearing fruit like they are supposed to,… And the curses in the Parasha as well, many of them are just when things don’t go as expected.

The Aleph Bet of everything in Judaism is א’מונה and ב’טחון. As the Ramban tells us in Shemot, “A person does not have a portion in Moshe Rabbenu’s Torah until he believes that all the things that happen to us, it is all miracles, and there is no such thing as nature at all.” There is no such thing as nature. G-d himself, is Nature, as the words אלוקים  and טבע  have the same numerical value. When rain falls on time, when there is produce, the minimum expectations we have in life, are all considered blessings and abundance. The most important lesson we can take as we leave Covid behind is, כֹּ֣ל הַ֭נְּשָׁמָה תְּהַלֵּ֥ל יָ֗הּ הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ . We need to praise G-d for the very basic, for being able to breathe. (Bereshit R. 14)

Emunah does not mean faith. That is a weak English translation of the world. Emunah means reliance. Dependence. The words   כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשָּׂ֤א הָאֹמֵן֙ אֶת־הַיֹּנֵ֔ק just as the caretaker lifts the one who suckles, teaches us that Emunah is similar to the dependence of a nursing child. (Bamidbar 11;12) When King David said how he felt about his relationship with G-d, he said, אִם־לֹ֤א שִׁוִּ֨יתִי׀ וְדוֹמַ֗מְתִּי נַ֫פְשִׁ֥י כְּ֭גָמֻל עֲלֵ֣י אִמּ֑וֹ כַּגָּמֻ֖ל עָלַ֣י נַפְשִֽׁי (Tehillim 131;2) I swear that I calmed and quieted my soul like a suckling on its mother; like a suckling was my soul with me. The calmness of the soul depends on how you view G-d in your life and how dependent on Him you are willing to become. When a child is nursing, it has nothing else it wants, no plans, no aspirations, no calculations, no doubts. It is totally dependent on the mother that is nursing it. Of course, a person needs to plan and execute, but after you did what you could do, you need to enter a state of Emunah, a state of total dependence.

Naturally, though, the Yetzer Hara gets the best of us. As we grew from being babies into independent people, we were taught that the more independent of others and things we become, the healthier we are. This leads us to think that all independence is a good thing, including independence from G-d. We try harder, think harder, than effective, because we fall under the mistake that our efforts and planning are god. But the prophet Hoshea taught us that the first step to Teshuva is , וְלֹא־נֹ֥אמַר ע֛וֹד אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ לְמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה יָדֵ֑ינוּ And we won’t say anymore, that the work of our hands, is G-d. (Hoshea 14;4)

When Jews learn G-d’s Torah and keep G-d’s Mitzvoth, there is a beautiful blessing that we can get. אֲנִי יקוק רֹפְאֶךָ. I am YKVK, your Doctor. When one is healthy, it is because G-d is constantly blessing you, “Stay Healthy”. There are so many things that can go wrong. But G-d keeps curing you. This is the work that we need to work on in the month of אייר , the month that stands for א’ני י’ ר’פאיך.

In the 49 days of the Omer, a person is working through his spiritual sicknesses. חולה is the numerical value of 49. The more a person works on his character, the more he realizes how emotionally sick he is, how many weaknesses he has. The 49 days are days of judgment, and the power to cure ourselves spiritually and emotionally are found in these days.

A certain client cried to me the other day how much he suffers from ADHD. He has no breaks to what he says; things that he sometimes feels comes out of his mouth before it reaches his mind. He felt so depressed. I told him that awareness itself, the very fact that he realizes that he has such a problem, is a huge thing. “What is the one thing worse than driving a car that has no breaks? Driving a car that has no breaks, and you don’t know that it has no breaks”.

So many times, we need to realize that we have a problem and that we can do the best we can do to solve it. But at the end of the day, we rely on G-d to cure us, save us, and bring us a salvation.

 

Selfie steps to become more dependent on G-d.

  1. Ask yourself before solving any problem four questions: What exactly is the problem. Why does the problem exist. What are all the possible solutions. What is the best solution.  When you do only the best solutions, the ones with the highest percentage chance for success, you are doing proper Hishtadlut. When you are doing all the solutions, even the solutions that are low percentage of success, you are not relying on G-d. When you are trying solutions that are against your values and ethics, you are not relying on G-d.
  2. Realize that when you are frozen, when you are stuck, it is because you are depending too much on yourself and not depending on G-d. When we are working for G-d, no dare is too great. As we found when King David faced Goliath. Once Goliath laughed at G-d, King David felt empowered to take him down. Because now it was between G-d and Goliath, not between David and Goliath.

Sometimes we think that we go out of our way for other people. We give our money, our time, our energy, for other people. But in reality, the one who receives the most when giving is the giver. These last two weeks, I went on a fundraising trip for my father-in-law’s Yeshiva. A Sephardic yeshiva of 400 boys. If I had been home in Jerusalem, I would have for sure went to Meron for Lag Baomer like I go every year, and I would have for sure taken my children with me. I tried saving the Yeshiva, but in the end, the Yeshiva saved me, and my family. When Ruth spoke about her receiving grain from Boaz, she said, שֵׁ֤ם הָאִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר עָשִׂ֧יתִי עִמּ֛וֹ הַיּ֖וֹם בֹּֽעַז:  The name of the man that I did with him today, Boaz… Why does it say that Ruth did for Boaz? Didn’t Boaz do for Ruth? The Midrash tells us  יותר ממה שבעל הבית עושה עם העני – העני עושה עם בעל הבית More than what the rich man does for the poor, the poor do for the rich. (Midrash R. Vayikra 34;8)

Every year I would go to Meron and think that it was normal to be so squished. I thought it was safe that you could be in a place where your feet were off the ground, and the only way you could survive being “inside” by R’ Shimon bar Yochai was if you were tall enough to have oxygen and had strong enough elbows. But every year until now was a miracle. As I prayed in a shul in Brooklyn while I was fundraising, I noticed that on the wall was a sign that said, This room can have only 100 people in it. More than that is dangerous.

Sometimes we think that if G-d would send us miracles, if G-d would bless us, He would do so in an unnatural, abnormal way. And that when the everyday is normal, that is the way it is supposed to be. That No news, is just, Good news.

When we read the blessings and curses of the Torah we will notice that it is not that way. The majority of the blessings are simple blessings: that things are natural, normal, and functioning. Rain falling when it is supposed to, land producing grain like it is supposed to, trees bearing fruit like they are supposed to,… And the curses in the Parasha as well, many of them are just when things don’t go as expected.

The Aleph Bet of everything in Judaism is א’מונה and ב’טחון. As the Ramban tells us in Shemot, “A person does not have a portion in Moshe Rabbenu’s Torah until he believes that all the things that happen to us, it is all miracles, and there is no such thing as nature at all.” There is no such thing as nature. G-d himself, is Nature, as the words אלוקים  and טבע  have the same numerical value. When rain falls on time, when there is produce, the minimum expectations we have in life, are all considered blessings and abundance. The most important lesson we can take as we leave Covid behind is, כֹּ֣ל הַ֭נְּשָׁמָה תְּהַלֵּ֥ל יָ֗הּ הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ . We need to praise G-d for the very basic, for being able to breathe. (Bereshit R. 14)

Emunah does not mean faith. That is a weak English translation of the world. Emunah means reliance. Dependence. The words   כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשָּׂ֤א הָאֹמֵן֙ אֶת־הַיֹּנֵ֔ק just as the caretaker lifts the one who suckles, teaches us that Emunah is similar to the dependence of a nursing child. (Bamidbar 11;12) When King David said how he felt about his relationship with G-d, he said, אִם־לֹ֤א שִׁוִּ֨יתִי׀ וְדוֹמַ֗מְתִּי נַ֫פְשִׁ֥י כְּ֭גָמֻל עֲלֵ֣י אִמּ֑וֹ כַּגָּמֻ֖ל עָלַ֣י נַפְשִֽׁי (Tehillim 131;2) I swear that I calmed and quieted my soul like a suckling on its mother; like a suckling was my soul with me. The calmness of the soul depends on how you view G-d in your life and how dependent on Him you are willing to become. When a child is nursing, it has nothing else it wants, no plans, no aspirations, no calculations, no doubts. It is totally dependent on the mother that is nursing it. Of course, a person needs to plan and execute, but after you did what you could do, you need to enter a state of Emunah, a state of total dependence.

Naturally, though, the Yetzer Hara gets the best of us. As we grew from being babies into independent people, we were taught that the more independent of others and things we become, the healthier we are. This leads us to think that all independence is a good thing, including independence from G-d. We try harder, think harder, than effective, because we fall under the mistake that our efforts and planning are god. But the prophet Hoshea taught us that the first step to Teshuva is , וְלֹא־נֹ֥אמַר ע֛וֹד אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ לְמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה יָדֵ֑ינוּ And we won’t say anymore, that the work of our hands, is G-d. (Hoshea 14;4)

When Jews learn G-d’s Torah and keep G-d’s Mitzvoth, there is a beautiful blessing that we can get. אֲנִי יקוק רֹפְאֶךָ. I am YKVK, your Doctor. When one is healthy, it is because G-d is constantly blessing you, “Stay Healthy”. There are so many things that can go wrong. But G-d keeps curing you. This is the work that we need to work on in the month of אייר , the month that stands for א’ני י’ ר’פאיך.

In the 49 days of the Omer, a person is working through his spiritual sicknesses. חולה is the numerical value of 49. The more a person works on his character, the more he realizes how emotionally sick he is, how many weaknesses he has. The 49 days are days of judgment, and the power to cure ourselves spiritually and emotionally are found in these days.

A certain client cried to me the other day how much he suffers from ADHD. He has no breaks to what he says; things that he sometimes feels comes out of his mouth before it reaches his mind. He felt so depressed. I told him that awareness itself, the very fact that he realizes that he has such a problem, is a huge thing. “What is the one thing worse than driving a car that has no breaks? Driving a car that has no breaks, and you don’t know that it has no breaks”.

So many times, we need to realize that we have a problem and that we can do the best we can do to solve it. But at the end of the day, we rely on G-d to cure us, save us, and bring us a salvation.

 

Selfie steps to become more dependent on G-d.

  1. Ask yourself before solving any problem four questions: What exactly is the problem. Why does the problem exist. What are all the possible solutions. What is the best solution.  When you do only the best solutions, the ones with the highest percentage chance for success, you are doing proper Hishtadlut. When you are doing all the solutions, even the solutions that are low percentage of success, you are not relying on G-d. When you are trying solutions that are against your values and ethics, you are not relying on G-d.
  2. Realize that when you are frozen, when you are stuck, it is because you are depending too much on yourself and not depending on G-d. When we are working for G-d, no dare is too great. As we found when King David faced Goliath. Once Goliath laughed at G-d, King David felt empowered to take him down. Because now it was between G-d and Goliath, not between David and Goliath.

About the author, Yosef

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