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What Is Bitachon?

What Is Bitachon?

Real Confidence

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(Sephardi: bē-tā-ḥon Ashkenazi: bi-TÄ-khon) בטחון root: בטח
Related words: Secure, Confident, Promise


What it is

Generally translated as “trust,” bitachon is a powerful sense of optimism and confidence based not on reason or experience, but on emunah. You know that “G‑d is good and He’s the only one in charge,” and therefore you have no fears or frets.

Like emunah, bitachon is super-rational. The person who holds such an attitude will always be able to point out the positive side of life’s experiences, but it’s obvious that his or her bitachon is not based upon these. It is not an attitude based on experience, but one that creates experience. It says, “Things will be good because I believe they are good.”

On the other hand, bitachon is not a strategy to manipulate the universe. Your belief does not create good—the good in which you are so confident is already the underlying reality. Your belief only provides the means by which that reality can surface. See Is the Law of Attraction Jewish? for more on this point.

There are varying degrees of bitachon, according to a person’s degree of emunah. One person may have emunah that although things right now are not good, they are all for the good (eventually). A higher, yet more enlightened emunah is that everything right now is good—even when it superficially looks terrible. See When Bad Is Good for the stories of Rabbi Akiva and Nachum Ish Gamzu that illustrate how these two attitudes can play out in the resultant bitachon.

When it’s needed

Unlike emunah, bitachon does not live inside a person in a uniform state. Most of the time it’s fine sitting in the background: You go about your business the best you can, with perfect faith that “G‑d will bless you in whatever you do,” and therefore it’s not your own smarts or hard work that will provide success, but “G‑d’s blessing is what makes a man rich.”

But then, situations arise from time to time when you can’t see any natural means by which you can get out of this. At that point, bitachon needs to wake up and step up to bat. Rather than saying, “Woe is me! Who can help me?” you say, “My help is from G‑d, who makes heaven and earth—and therefore can do whatever He wants with them.”

What it does

Bitachon carries with it a profound, albeit subliminal cosmology: Even a simple Jew believes that G‑d can provide for our needs despite all odds—even contravening the natural order—yet without breaking a single law of nature. Healing will come through a good doctor, profit will come through better clientele—yet the doctor and the clientele are only channels for the real healing and profit straight from G‑d’s blessing. In other words, we find in bitachon a G‑d beyond nature, within nature.

Which explains why when a Jew is in trouble, he or she first takes care of spiritual matters—such as checking tefillin and mezuzahs, pledging charity or some other mitzvah, spending more time in Torah study—before dealing with the material urgency at hand. First get the blessings in place, then deal with the channels through which they will come.

How to get it

For any person, bitachon can be a source of tranquility and happiness through the vicissitudes of life. Many read the story of the manna (Exodus 16) every day to strengthen their bitachon. Reading and telling stories of others who lived on bitachon also helps. But nothing helps more than meditating deeply upon the deep relationship we each have with the Source of All Good, and putting that conviction to work for you whenever necessary.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Fro October 26, 2016

Aha This article has just given me an "Aha" moment..😃..amazing...it's so profound that it is so simple, yet it can only be got by AWE not by analysis. Thank you Rabbi. Reply

Yochanan bY AL October 25, 2016

My bitachon says, Things are hard, but for good. Living is like being the challah dough: Nashim knead it, fold it, beat it, roll it. Life hurts, but H" (bH) is making something wonderful. Must endure until. "To survive is to suffer. To suffer is to survive."
Emma, on the other hand, has bitachon that sees sunshine in every storm of life. "It's going to be okay. Just have faith. Everything's fine." Reply

Yoseph Janowski Thornhill, Canada September 20, 2016

You write, "Things will be good because I believe they are good."

Actually, the above statement would seem to be a contradiction. If everything is good, then there is no place for bitochon. (See Lekutei Sichos volume three page 883.)

May you and yours be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year. Reply

Yoseph Janowski Thornhill, Canada September 16, 2016

Thank you for your articles, which encourage thought and discussion.

I think that there are references in chabad.org that regarding one's livelihood, we trust that G-d will provide. So this is more than just trusting that everything is good. It is trusting that G-d will give us our livelihood.

Thank you again. Reply

Anonymous NY July 19, 2016

Oh that makes more sense. Seems like I simply misread the phrasing.

Thank you for clarifying. Reply

Tzvi Freeman July 19, 2016

For Anonymous in NY You answered your own question when you wrote, "if someone has complete Bitachon, Hashem will give them revealed good."

That implies that even now, everything is truly good—just that the good is not revealed good. Our trust in G-d is what allows it to become revealed good.

Which is just what I wrote. Reply

Anonymous NY July 18, 2016

This statement troubled me.
"On the other hand, bitachon is not a strategy to manipulate the universe. Your belief does not create good—the good in which you are so confident is already the underlying reality."

The Rebbe clearly explained in a sicha - Chelek 36 - first Shemos sicha - that if someone has complete Bitachon, Hashem will give them revealed good.

To quote:
"The bitachon itself is what brings and causes the salvation of Hashem, and from the positive we can learn out the negative: that if the person is not saved from his troubles then this is because there was a lack in his bitachon." Reply

Alan Verver y Vargas Fernandez Mexico November 12, 2015

"Bitachon" the word has been in my mind lately, along with some other, I didn't know the actual meaning or how to spell it. I heard it in the radio (kol Israel), as I'm trying to learn Hebrew, I listen to general stuff to catch some words.

Thanks for the article, it's a meaningful word indeed. Reply

Anonymous June 21, 2015

HaMan Something struck me while reading Exodus 17:, even reading the plain text in English. The text says "Gather ye of it every man according to his eating; an omer a head...'"

What really struck me as strange is that "gather according to your needs" and simultaneously "gather an omer (a specific weight)" are two entirely different ways of gathering. A specific amount (like a half a pound) might not be enough for one person (example, if they can eat a whole 16oz steak with trimmings) but it might be too much for another.

But in these verses, no matter how much was gathered, it was still an omer. And it was still enough no matter who ate what amount.

The idea here is not only the basic provision, but also that G-d has control over to play around with what exactly a quantity is...because the verses go back and forth between "enough for all" and "a specific amount". For G-d there is no difference and no strict scientific mass/quantity laws to be followed.

Does that sound right??? Reply

Heather Wolf California May 13, 2015

Thanks so much for this! Please keep me in your prayers as I am learning. Blessings & Shalom Reply

Esteban Costa Rica October 26, 2014

thank you ! your message was truly inspiring :) Reply

Anonymous Central America May 30, 2014

Faith, Jews and Muslims I treasure an elucidation of the nature of faith gleaned from a source shared by a Muslim friend: "faith is understood not as 'blind faith' but rather as a firm conviction based on knowledge and belief." I find this perfectly compatible with the discussion here of bitachon.

How blessed is Israel to have a real grounds for firm confidence through all of life! B"H Reply

Janet Caterina Israel April 24, 2014

I still have problems with the interpretations of these words. While most people will say that emunah means belief or faith, to me these are totally inappropriate definitions. Faith is something that can disappear; emunah does not. To most people, Belief is synonymous with religion while to me, it is like a dangerous chemical that can be found in all manner of bizarre ideas. Religious experience does not rely on belief. But it can engender or produce trust.

Bitachon, therefore, is not the same as believing in an idea. It is trust engendered by the element of experience of G-d. If there was no such thing as a Divine being or if our religion depended on our belief in this Being to continue, then the experiential component would be missing altogether. It would be only an idea with no testable or proven reality. The different reality that someone with emuna senses may well be measurable and deserves scientific consideration as a higher state of human conscious functioning. Reply

Happy At Last Sweet Home Florida April 20, 2014

This will become easier as I think and imagine it's reality. It was tough seeing terminal illness at a young age and no one said having a dying parent , it will all work out for the best. Sometimes you do have to be older to get it. But the wisest ppl will take this on whole heartedly and not wait to take a class at 35 or 50 yrs old and finally get it. Reply

Payam L. los angeles March 12, 2014

Bitaxhon, the Engine that drives... Wow! I really enjoyed reading this and finally get more clarification on what Bitachon is and its distinction from Emunah! After reading the article and many of the comments, it seems to me that we are all like drivers in our "life" vahicle and the Emunah works like the Fuel in our car, while Bitachon is like the high horsepower Engine that pushes our car forward! Would love your comment on this weather this makes sense. Thank you Rabbi for explaining this. Reply

Anonymous December 8, 2013

What is Bitachon Thank you for this great essay , it gave me more understanding as well as practical examples of when and how to apply Bitachon, which I am working on.
I will certainly be reading it over and over until I can internalize this great message. Reply

Josh Wynnewood November 21, 2013

Sources Hey could you provide some sources for these ideas, I would be very grateful.
Reply

Christina Cape Town November 6, 2013

Christina The human family can always trust Trust no matter what. The final analysis will be done with only smiles.......So please :-) and have a good day. Reply

Anonymous October 5, 2013

see the Shaar Habitachon by Rabeinu Bahya ibn Paquda for perhaps the most important treatise on the subject. Reply

Anonymous w July 13, 2012

in line r h july 12, 2012 Every time you mention some impasse with rabbis, i support you. The rabbis you have problems with are those threatened by your good given intellect and vast life experience. The kind of rabbi mentor you need has to be at R. Tzvi's level of intellect and world experience.

As you refer to, all opinions must be allowed for healthy debate. For example, no two people encounter a work of art in the same way. It is worth dialogue if one is so inclined. Nobody can be wrong on their appreciation of a work of art. Our brain looks at the piece and makes analyses. The analyses are also impacted by life.experiences. No two people have the same brain or experiences. There is a link between the science of the brain's activity and the humanities. We are only at the initial stages of exploring and understanding the link. I hope that you can appreciate this finding. Speaking of this frontier is beyond the ken of most rabbis.

" Don't let the ' rabbis ' get you down. "

Good Shabbos all ! Reply

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