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" When the dew descended upon the camp at night, the manna would descend upon it. " (11:9)
The daily manna was a lesson in bitachon, trust, in Hashem. The Jewish People learned to trust that Hashem would provide their necessities at the appropriate time. They would be allotted the amount that they needed, as determined by Hashem. Things have not changed. Hashem still provides for us. It may not look or feel like manna, but it is a modern-day version. Our livelihood comes to us compliments of Hashem. Fortunate is he who realizes, acknowledges and appreciates this. As in the wilderness, Hashem provides each individual with enough to address his needs. Those who have more should realize that Hashem wants them to share it with others. Those who have less should be patient; Hashem will provide.
Concerning bitachon, a distinction exists between gashmius, materialism, and ruchniyos, spirituality. Chazal teach us that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son lived for thirteen years in a cave. How did they sustain themselves? We are taught that a carob tree and a spring were in the cave. Thus, their daily fare consisted of carob and water. Not a very diverse diet, but nutritional none-the-less. They were pleased, considering that they were able to study Torah all day and night, unencumbered by anyone or anything. Their material needs were cared for. Life was "great"!
There was, however, one problem: their clothes. Since they had no idea how long they would be compelled to live in the cave, they were concerned lest their clothes wear out. One must wear a garment in order to daven. If they were to wear their clothes all day, they would soon wear-out, leaving them with nothing to wear for davening. In order to alleviate this problem, they dug a hole in the sand floor of the cave, entered and covered themselves with sand. This is how they learned Torah. When it came time to daven, they would exit the sand, get dressed and daven.
Hashem's role in our sustenance is an intrinsic one. In a way, it was much easier in the wilderness to see that role played out. One form of sustenance came via Heaven. That was all! Today, we think that the sustenance comes via our job, our investments, etc. Accordingly, we are thrown for a loop. We think that it is our hishtadlus, endeavoring, that catalyzes results. For instance, we work for someone. He provides our paycheck and, hence, our sustenance. It does not work that way, as evidenced by the following incident.
Prior to his being revealed to the world as founder of chassidus, the holy Baal Shem Tov was extremely poor. He lived off what he was able to beg. Regrettably, a few hundred years ago, this was not an uncommon sight in Europe. Most Jews struggled and were compelled to live off the charitable donations of others. Thursday was the day that they were forced to "hit the street," begging for alms, so that they could acquire the simplest necessities for Shabbos.
On one particular Thursday, the Baal Shem Tov closed his Gemorah and went out on a fundraising trip. Approaching the home of a well-to-do philanthropist, he walked up to the door, gave a few knocks, and immediately walked away. The philanthropist came to the door and was quite upset to see no one standing there. "What chutzpah!" he declared. Not giving up quickly, he looked around his vast estate only to discover the Baal Shem Tov sitting in a corner across the street. The man donned his coat and went out to the holy man.
"Rebbe! Sholom Aleichem! Possibly you were the one who knocked on my door?" the man asked. "Yes, it was I," the Baal Shem Tov replied.
"What were you seeking?" the man asked.
"Shabbos is approaching and I have no funds with which to purchase the basic necessities," the Baal Shem Tov answered. "So, why did you run away? You did not even allow me to make it to the door with a donation," the man queried.
"Why should I wait by the door?" the Baal Shem asked. "An obligation rests upon me to be mishtadel, endeavor. I executed that hishtadlus by knocking on the door. Now, it is up to Hashem to help me. What difference is there if He assists me through you or through another avenue? The main thing is that I did my part."
This incident teaches us that the hishtadlus does not necessarily coincide with the results. The blessing comes from Hashem after we are mishtadel. In other words, we might be working for one person - and receive our sustenance from another. Working is the hishtadlus; the consequences come from Hashem as He sees fit.
What is bitachon? The usual response is: "I trust in Hashem that He will do such and such for me." This is not bitachon. In the sefer Chovas Halevavos, it is explained that bitachon is a status quo, a state of being, whereby the individual remains calm and secure, trusting that the Almighty will provide him with whatever is appropriate. It is a sense of trust, a feeling of solitude.
The Chafetz Chaim compares this to medicine that must be ingested by a sick person. It is bitter medicine and, hence, difficult to swallow. The pharmacist wraps the medicine in a plastic capsule, so that the person will not taste the medicine. Indeed, we do this all of the time: wrap the bitter pills in life in some form of "plastic coating." This idea applies equally to bitachon. The individual who trusts in Hashem is not unaware of the troubles that beset him. He is acutely aware that they come from a Source: Hashem, Who "provides" them out of a sense of kindness. This awareness is the plastic capsule that engenders courage, fortitude and resolution to continue with the knowledge and trust that Hashem is purifying him. No, the pain does not go away. The perspective concerning this pain changes. It has been ameliorated through chesed.
When "push comes to shove," people trust in Hashem. On the one hand, it should not come to that. We should not trust in Hashem only when we have exhausted all other options. Hashem is the only option. Perhaps, if we would understand this concept, and turn to Hashem first - because He is the only option, then our prayers might achieve greater efficacy. I am writing this before Pesach, and I have before me a wonderful commentary on the Haggadah by Rabbi Yechiel Spero. He relates the following story which underscores and elucidates this idea.
A young couple - who had not yet been blessed with a child - had exhausted all avenues of hope. They had tried everything, to no avail. As a final attempt, they asked for a meeting with Horav Shimshon Pincus, zl. Rav Shimshon said that he would pick up the young man that evening at 11:00 p.m. Despite the young man's protests, Rav Shimshon was adamant; he was driving. At the appointed time, Rav Shimshon pulled up in his car, and they were off.
They drove for quite some time until they were driving in a completely uninhabited area. This continued on for a while. Suddenly, Rav Shimshon pulled off the road and continued driving on a dirt road. Another ten minutes elapsed until Rav Shimshon finally pulled over, stopped the car and asked the young man to step out of the car. One can imagine what thoughts were coursing through the young man's mind, but one does not question Rav Shimshon.
"Spend the next half hour davening to Hashem, and then I will return to pick you up," Rav Shimshon told him. Having issued his instructions, Rav Shimshon returned to the car and pulled out, leaving the young man alone "somewhere" in the southern part of Eretz Yisrael.
Rav Shimshon returned thirty minutes later to find the young man sitting on a rock waiting for him. "Why did you leave me alone?" the young man asked. Rav Shimshon looked the young man in the eye and said, "This is it. I instructed you to daven because you are all alone right now in the middle of nowhere. You have no one else to turn to other than the Ribono Shel Olam. So, turn to your Father in Heaven and beg Him with all your strength to bless you with a child. I cannot help you. The doctors cannot help you. Nothing and no one can help - only Hashem. Daven as if you realize this."
Rav Shimshon drove off again, returning in a half hour. This time, however, the young man was not there. Rav Shimshon waited another half hour and began to worry. Suddenly, the young man emerged from a nearby field. Eyes swollen, his face tear- streaked, he looked at Rav Shimshon and said, "I think that we can go now."
Not a word passed between the two on the return trip home. Rav Shimshon dropped the young man off and continued on home. Within that year, the couple was blessed with a child, the fruit of a broken father's prayers. He knew that no one but Hashem could help him, and he davened like he believed it. He had discovered true bitachon.