THE ART OF DEPENDENCY
Each day, in the blessing before Shema, we pray to G-d that we be connected to Him and His Torah. We ask for this connection, in the merit of our ancestor’s Bitachon, their trust in G-d. בעבור אבותינו שבטחו בך … כי בשם קדשך הגדול הגבור והנורא בטחנו. In the merit of our Forefathers that trusted in You… for in Your holy, great and mighty Name, we trusted… Where do we see that the Jewish people merited the Torah, or a connection with G-d, in the merit of trust in G-d?
Another question. The Torah was given to us in the Desert. The Baal Haturim derives from this an important lesson. The only way a person can know the Torah and its mitzvoth is if he makes himself like a desert. What does this mean, to make yourself like a dessert? How do you make yourself like a desert? What was special about the Desert that made it iconic for Torah learning and connecting to G-d? And why did G-d give us the Torah in the Desert and not in the Holy Land, the land where the 613 are most relevant?
Yirmiyahu told us what G-d said when he reminisces about the Jewish People, and the kindness He received from them: כֹּ֚ה אָמַ֣ר יְקֹוָ֔ק זָכַ֤רְתִּי לָךְ֙ חֶ֣סֶד נְעוּרַ֔יִךְ אַהֲבַ֖ת כְּלוּלֹתָ֑יִךְ לֶכְתֵּ֤ךְ אַחֲרַי֙ בַּמִּדְבָּ֔ר בְּאֶ֖רֶץ לֹ֥א זְרוּעָֽה (Yirmiyahu 2;2) So said YKVK, “I remembered for you the kindness of your youth, the love of your bridal days, your going after me in the Desert, in a barren land. The Abudraham explains that the Desert is the icon of ultimate faith in G-d for survival. As the Mechilta explains the passuk that describes how we left Egypt וְגַם־ צֵדָ֖ה לֹא־עָשׂ֥וּ לָהֶֽם And, also provisions they did not make for themselves. (Shemot 12) The Jews left Egypt without packing food, totally relying on G-d and His messenger Moshe. This is the lesson of the Desert and what makes it have such pivotal importance. That you rely on G-d, without anything else to rely on. The whole Torah revolves upon total trust in G-d. The Vilna Gaon teaches that if you do not totally trust G-d, you cannot keep His Torah. This is the secret and the power of the magical words our nation said at Har Sinai when we accepted the Torah, נעשה ונשמע. We will do, and we will listen—total dependency on G-d.
The Torah was given to a united nation. ויחן שם ישראל נגד ההרAnd he, Yisrael, camped there, opposite the mountain. Our Rabbis deduced from the singular form of the word, “And he camped there,” that the Jews achieved an extraordinary level of unity—כאיש אחד בלב אחד Like one man, with one heart.
The only way to be one as a nation is with faith. You can never serve G-d with all your heart if you do not believe that the life He gave you, the strengths and weaknesses that make you unique, are all because this is your custom-tailored life’s mission to perfect your soul. This is the idea of the encampment in the Desert and the Degalim, the flags: each one has his place in the circle. The concept of the circle is that each person is equally distant from the center and has his unique place as part of a bigger picture. And the idea of the flags is that you know your G-d given identity and are proud of it. All of these are concepts of faith.
This answers the second question, as well. If G-d would give the Torah in the Holy Land, when each person sits under his grapevine or fig tree, that would not be G-d’s Torah. Torah, in all of its 613, is about connecting with G-d, relying on him. The whole Torah is summarized in the Ten Commandments, and the Ten Commandments are capsulized in the last of the ten, Do not covet. (Vilna Gaon) You cannot hold yourself back from jealousy if you do not have faith. It is emotionally impossible. Your friend’s wife, his house, his car, and everything that is his are irrelevant. You cannot have a healthy marriage without faith. R’ Chaim Vital in Shaarei Kedusha writes that the woman that G-d arranged for you is the only woman in the world who will help you perfect yourself.
You cannot educate your child to become a Torah Jew if you are not living with faith. Rashi in Shir Hashirim (4;5) mentions that a man who is jealous of others will cause his son to curse him and respect men other than his own father. Why is this the punishment, measure for measure? Because if you don’t believe that you have what you have only because G-d gave it to you, you do not believe that your son is the son that G-d gave you! What an insult to your son!
The Halacha in Shulhan Aruch is that a person should set aside a set time for Torah study and not give up this set time, even if it entails the loss of a significant profit. You obviously cannot get a set time for Torah study in your schedule, if you are not a master of faith.
The whole Torah is about bringing G-d into every core belief that you have. Accepting the Torah is step two to Exodus, for only after you believe that there is no other power in the universe other than Him, can you truly accept the Torah. This concept of ultimate faith, that everything is from G-d, and that there are no other powers in the world, is not only the pivotal point of the whole Torah. It is the most amazing Segulah. If we believe in Him, with all of our hearts, nothing bad will ever happen to us. (Nefesh Hachaim) King David promises the one that trusts in G-d will be surrounded with G-d’s kindness. וְהַבּוֹטֵחַ בַּה חֶסֶד יְסוֹבְבֶנּו
Here are the selfie steps to dependency:
- People see G-d every day; they just don’t recognize Him. To the hungry, He appears as bread. To the fearful, He appears as courage. To the sick, He appears as health. To those who live in the past or in the future, He appears as the present. G-d gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Use at least one to say thank You.
- Allow all that you have seen to teach you to trust the Creator, for all you have not seen. Awareness of the Creator in past and present is what develops dependency on Him, for the future. If you have bread in your basket for today, and you ask where will I have bread for tomorrow, you are lacking in faith. (R’ Eliezer HaGadol, Sotah 48b)
- Take one day at a time. G-d meets daily needs, daily. Not weekly or annually. He will give you what you need, when it is needed. He made the world round, so we would never be able to see too far down the road.
- Realize that your whole world depends on you, and you depend on G-d. Dependency on Him is the yellow-brick road to true independence.