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Finding Security in an Insecure World

Finding Security in an Insecure World


By nature, I'm an optimist.

Twenty years ago, I knew about the horrors of terrorism.

But conventional wisdom said that it couldn't happen in America.

So I trusted; and I slept peacefully.

I try to pay some attention to the financial markets. And, over the years, my financially-astute friends would assure me that slumps were "just part of the normal market cycle," and that "our economic system is solid and reliable." In fact, "some companies are TBTF [Too Big Too Fail]; they're here for the long run, no matter what happens in the short term."

So I trusted; and I slept peacefully.

What now?

Is anything in the world truly secure and TBTF?In 2009, we in our local Chabad Center find ourselves (like synagogues and JCCs all over the world) inviting the Department of Homeland Security for "target hardening."

In 2009, I find that the economy has actually been masking a fundamental weakness, that there's really no such thing as TBTF, and that nobody really knows when we'll pull out of this.

So where do I find a sense of stability? Whom can we trust? Is anything in the world truly secure and TBTF?

Sure, I believe in G‑d, and I believe that G‑d loves, guides and helps me.

But belief is one thing; trusting G‑d is different.

What is trust?

When I genuinely trust someone at work, I'm fully expecting them to carry a load. I totally expect good results from this person, because I trust him/her.

In Jewish theology, that's what "Trust in G‑d" should mean.

It means relying on a G‑d who cares and is able; and who loves us so much that He'll even help the "undeserving."

It means expecting good results, appreciable in the here and now. Why? Because G‑d is carrying the burden.

That's not easy, because it's somewhat counterintuitive.

In life, we need to expend human efforts to achieve results; so it's natural for us to attribute the results to our own efforts.

The Torah is telling me to continue my efforts, because G‑d wants His blessings to find a human conduit. But the Torah's telling me to trust that the final results will be G‑d's; and to trust that – because they flow from the Divine – those results will be appreciably good.

The third Chabad Rebbe had the following advice: "Think positively and it will be positive."

He wasn't only giving psychological advice; it was innately Judaic guidance.

"Think positively and it will be positive"My trust in G‑d, my absolute reliance on a loving G‑d to deliver positive results for my efforts, is a critical spiritual trigger for good things to happen.

And the results will reflect the amount of my trust.

It isn't easy.

But I guess it's not meant to be.

Rabbi Mendy Herson is director of the Chabad Jewish Center in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
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Mendy BR, NJ December 3, 2009

Response to Gary Tonight, you go to bed and say to G-d: My life is in your hands and I trust You. I REALLY trust You.
From my perspective, tomorrow's date is important for my life. And since You can help my cold be healed (aside from my own efforts toward healing), I trust You will. Since I REALLY trust you, I'm not going to feel anxiety; there's no longer cause.
That's trust in G-d.
What happens if you wake up with a fever that prevents you from going on the date? Trust that not going on the date is actually the best thing for you and your soul journey. Reply

Gary Tolchinsky New York, NY December 3, 2009

Response from Gary (original questioner):) Thanks for the comments!
Just want to make sure I understand:

As a hypothetical example, let's say I have an important date coming up tomorrow and have a cold. I get extra sleep, eat right, pray and trust that I will feel better, and this trust increases the likelihood I will get better. However:

1) I'm aware that some people with colds do not get better right away, and also know that a loving G-D may decide it's best for me to remain sick. So how can I trust with a full head/heart that I'll get better? Do I just try not to think about/deny what seem to be very realistic possibilities?

2) Just because G-D may do something out of love may not take away my fear of outcomes I perceive as painful. This fear can prevent me from the peace of mind needed to trust that things will turn out positively from my perspective, because I "know" they may not.

Realize there may be no answer besides acceptance, but thought I'd ask:) Thanks! Reply

Mendy BR, NJ December 3, 2009

In response to a response-) In life, G-d's answer is often 'no', in effect denying us what we think is best for us.
However, that's once the 'answer has been given'. How are we supposed to think in anticipation of the 'answer'? Are we supposed to think: "Hey, whatever you do is fine with me"?
A careful analysis of the classic Jewish sources on the subject (Chovot Halevovot and others) points us in direction of the maxim: 'Think positive (i.e. trust in a positive outcome as you see it) and it will be positive".
Trust in G-d means trust in G-d's love for us, love that we can appreciate in our human perspective. Trust that things will turn out positively.
If the time of uncertainty has passed, and the reality is a sad fait accompli, we THEN rely on our faith that "whatever G-d does is for the best". Reply

rena The Holy Land December 3, 2009

In response to your response to Gary With all due respect, there are definitely times in our lives when G-d's answer to my prayers is "no" BECAUSE He loves me. We need to trust in him enough to accept that. Reply

William27 March 9, 2009

Put oneself in G-d's hands and you will be inspired by his light which will guide one to new windows of hope. Dedicating oneself to follow his tenets of dong good for others will add to the light that one can use to solve seemingly impossible problems. We are here as his servants; financial prfoblems are transitory. Prayer and meditation will alert our heavenly guides to nudge us in the right direction. Reply

Mendy Basking Ridge, NJ February 4, 2009

Question Gary,
Your question is very much on the mark.
With regard to the rectitude of our desires, I obviously need to have an honest evaluation to assess whether what I want for myself is something G-d wants for me too.
Assuming that I'm comfortable with that:
Trusting G-d should mean just that - relying that He will come through for me in an appreciable way.
Is it possible for G-d to disregard my prayers BECAUSE He loves me? Of course.
But that's not supposed to be my operating system.
A careful look at the words of our Medieval greats (Chovot Halevovot, Sefer Haikkarim and Maharal of Prague among others) will show you that trusting G-d means finding comfort in the confidence that He will provide what you need (according to what YOU think you need).
An Omnipotent and Omnibeneficent G-d can come through, so we need to place our trust in Him. Reply

Gary Tolchinsky New York, NY February 4, 2009

Question I need some clarification:)

I realize I can trust G-D to do good, but can I trust G-D to do good in a way that I can understand and see it from my perspective, and that my idea of "good results" in an appreciable way is what G-D should provide?

For example, I can trust that G-D can allow to me earn a living and it seems like that's a good thing. But maybe if I can't earn a living, it will fix something in my soul that helps me in the world to come. Or maybe if I can't earn a living, I'll gain humility or study Torah more, etc.

So I wonder whether it makes sense to trust G-D to provide a specific outcome (find a match, catch a train, etc.). Not because G-D can't do it, obviously, but because it may not really be what's good for me in the long run. Thanks!l

for me, can I trust that G-D will do this in a way that I find good with my limited perspective? Reply

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