How does one achieve a life of bitachon, trust in G-d?
We can learn a valuable lesson in bitachon, trust in G-d from the story of the cheit hameraglim, the sin of the spies.
The Jews were on the threshold of entering the land of Israel. Prior to their entry, they sent spies to check out the land of Israel so they could prepare to conquer the land. The spies came back with bad news. They reported to the people that there were giants living in the land. They brought back a grape which was the size of a watermelon as additional proof that there were giants that inhabited the land. They informed the Jewish people that there was no way that they would naturally win this war. This was a lost case. When the Jewish people heard this, they began to cry.
Now, wait a minute. Am I missing something here? Why are the Jews crying?
Where is their bitachon, trust in G-d that He will help them conquer the land of Israel? These are the same Jews who experienced first hand Hashem miraculously saving them again and again.
Ancient Egypt was the superpower in their time. They witnessed the ten plagues destroy Egypt and the splitting of the sea. They saw with their own eyes how powerful Hashem is.
Yes, there were giants living in the land of Israel. So what? They had Hashem on their side and just like He saved them before so He will save them again.
Why didn’t the Jewish people have bitachon, trust in G-d?
The Sforno, a commenter on the chumash writes (Bamidbar 14:3) that the Jewish people committed idolatry while living in Egypt. They thought that Hashem would allow the Canaanite nation living in Israel destroy them as punishment for their sin of idolatry.
According to the Sfonro, the Jewish people did not doubt Hashem’s power. They knew firsthand that Hashem was all powerful and can destroy the Canaanite nations.
So why did they cry? Because the Jewish people doubted that they were worthy of Hashem’s protection due to their sins.
The Gemara (Sanhedrin 104b) writes the night the Jewish people heard the spies report and began to cry was Tisha b’Av. The Midrash Tanuchama (on Parshas Shelach) writes that at that very moment, it was decreed that the Beis HaMikdash, the Holy Temple, would be destroyed years later on that very same day, and that the Nation of Israel would be exiled from its Land.
Think about that. Tisha B’av is, arguably, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. It is 25 hour fast. It is a day of national mourning for all of the tragedies that occurred to the Jewish people throughout the generations. When did Tisha B’av turn into a day of national mourning and tragedy? On the night the Jewish people wept because they did not think they would be able to conquer the land of Israel. Why did they cry? Because the Jewish people did not believe that Hashem would help them despite their failings.
In order to have bitachon, trust in G-d. It is not enough to believe that Hashem is all powerful. One needs to remember that even if one feels unworthy of Hashem’s protection then one should still trust that Hashem will help.
Rabbi Shmuel Houminer (sefer Mitzvos Habitachon, page 11) explains that in order to have bitachon, trust in G-d one does not need to be righteous!
He writes: “Even if you have not amassed good deeds and you recognize that you are a bad person nevertheless trust in Hashem for, he is compassionate and will act mercifully toward you. As it says ‘his mercy is on all his creatures.’
When one trusts in Hashem, not due to one’s righteousness and or because one feels one is deserving, but rather due to Hashem’s unlimited compassion that in itself is enough merit to be worthy of being saved.
Miriam Brodersen is a writer and lecturer. Ms. Brodersen teaches at several seminaries in Jerusalem.