Printed from chabad.org
All Departments
Jewish Holidays
TheRebbe.org
Jewish.TV - Video
Jewish Audio
News
Kabbalah Online
JewishWoman.org
Kids Zone

What Is Bitachon?

What Is Bitachon?

Real Confidence

E-mail
(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.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
E-mail
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (31)
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
Anonymous
Central America
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.
Janet Caterina
Israel
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.
Happy At Last
Sweet Home Florida
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.
Payam L.
los angeles
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.
Anonymous
November 21, 2013
Sources
Hey could you provide some sources for these ideas, I would be very grateful.
Josh
Wynnewood
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.
Christina
Cape Town
October 5, 2013
see the Shaar Habitachon by Rabeinu Bahya ibn Paquda for perhaps the most important treatise on the subject.
Anonymous
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 !
Anonymous
w
July 12, 2012
bitachon vs emunah
IMHO,

Emunah is faith like a hot flame. It ebbs and flows. As such the levels of fervor can be high or not so high on a continuum.

Bitachon is a cold steely resolve of faith. I do not see levels to it. In this kind of faith, either have it or you don't.
Anonymous
w
Show all comments
FEATURED ON CHABAD.ORG