By the Grace of G‑d
The Days of Selichos,1 5734 [1974]
Brooklyn, N.Y.

To the sons and daughters of Israel
Wherever they may be:2
May G‑d’s blessings for life be with you.

Greetings and Blessings!

[...] The3 question arises: How can every Jew be expected to attain such a level,4 and to do so not only truthfully but happily as well? This question is accentuated when one realizes that on the one hand, the Divine dwelling place among the nether beings5 is to be built in a world that is spiritually lowly6 and that is physical and materialistic, in a world in which Jews are — physically — “the least among the nations”7 ; and on the other hand, this task is demanded of every Jew, placed as he is in a predicament in which his indispensable needs (such as eating, drinking, sleeping and working) occupy a great part of his time and exertion, leaving little time for holy and spiritual matters. How, then, can a Jew be expected to attain such a level?

The answer to this question, which can be understood by every man and woman, lies in the attribute of bitachon, placing one’s trust in G‑d. This attribute is fundamental8 to the Torah, which is called Toras chayim (“the Torah of Life”). And since in the Holy Tongue the word “Torah” is cognate with horaah (which means “teaching” or “instruction”),9 the phrase Toras chayim signifies “a guidepost for one’s daily life.”

The attribute of bitachon is also highlighted in the psalm that is read twice daily throughout Elul, the month of self-preparation for the new year, and also at the beginning of the year, during most of the month of Tishrei: “A Psalm of David. G‑d is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?”10

This trust in G‑d, this utter reliance on His help, which David HaMelech expresses here on behalf of every Jew, embraces both the material and the spiritual aspects of one’s life. It extends to the highest reaches of one’s Divine service. This may be seen in the later verses of the above psalm, culminating in the final verse: “Place your hope in G‑d; be strong and let your heart be valiant, and place your hope in G‑d.”11

* * *

Having trust in G‑d means that one feels a certainty and a conviction that G‑d will help overcome all of life’s difficulties, whether material or spiritual,12 since He is “my light and my salvation.” Every man and woman will certainly be able to fulfill their mission13 in This World — and with joy, great joy — when they consider that it is G‑d Himself Who chose them to be His emissary in the world, to build Him “a dwelling place among the nether beings.” Moreover, they have G‑d’s assurance that as they carry out His mission, He is their light, help, and strength.

One’s joy in executing this mission is heightened when one recalls that G‑d grants His help in the spirit of the verse,14 “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine” — and His love is extraordinary, G‑dly.

This love, as our Sages teach, becomes mainly manifest in the period from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Yom Kippur.15

At this time, therefore, and indeed throughout the year, this love ought to elicit in response a boundless love for G‑d, a love that finds expression in the verses,16 “Whom [else] have I in Heaven? And aside from You, I desire nothing on earth. My life and my heart expire [to You, G‑d].”

These verses, too, focus on one’s love for G‑d and one’s trust in Him, both in spiritual matters (“in Heaven”) and in material matters (“on earth”).

Every Jew’s innate trust in G‑d is a heritage bequeathed to him by our Patriarchs. Of them it is written,17 “Our forefathers trusted in You; they trusted and You saved them.”18 All that is required is that one should allow this trust to surface and materialize, enabling it to permeate every detail of one’s daily life.

There is a principle taught by the Sages, of blessed memory: “By the same measure with which a man measures, his due is meted out to him.”19 Accordingly, the stronger and more disproportionate is one’s trust,20 the more disproportionately will one’s trust be manifestly vindicated and fulfilled21 — by the bestowal of G‑d’s blessings, both material and spiritual.

* * *

May G‑d grant that all the above — fulfilling the G‑d-given mission of building Him a dwelling place down here below, placing one’s trust in Him, and receiving His material and spiritual blessings — be true of every Jew in the fullest measure.

And this in turn will hasten the fulfillment of the most comprehensive blessing for the entire House of Israel — the true and complete Redemption through our Righteous Mashiach.

With blessings that you be inscribed and sealed for a good and a sweet year, in both material and spiritual matters together,