(a) Faith relates not to practicalities but to one’s
Divine service. Trust, by contrast,
has a practical consequence.

The1 Alter Rebbe gives two distinct explanations for the daily custom of reciting the passage from the Torah2 that describes how G‑d sustained His People in the wilderness with manna, food from Heaven. The Alter Rebbe’s reason for offering two explanations was not a consideration of style, but of substance, though he did not include this reading in his Siddur (for [Kabbalistic] reasons to be found in Shaar HaKavanah by the AriZal).

The message of the verses concerning the manna is particularly highlighted by a teaching of the Rebbe Maharash:3 “Today, [too,] one’s livelihood comes [from Heaven] like manna — except that because of the prevailing darkness and [Divine self-]concealment, people aren’t aware of this.”4

In the later edition (Mahadura Basra) of his Shulchan Aruch,. See sec. 1:9 in the annotated Bilingual Edition of the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch (Kehot, N.Y., 5762/2002), Vol. 1, p. 76. the Alter Rebbe wrote that “it is proper to recite every day [...] the passage concerning the manna, [to spur] one’s trust (bitachon) in G‑d Who provides one with his daily bread.” The person who cultivates this attribute does not merely have faith that G‑d is his Provider. Beyond that, without anxiety, he relies on G‑d, Who will provide him with his daily bread, certainly and constantly — or, to translate the Alter Rebbe’s concluding words more literally, “Who provides one with each day’s bread on its day.”

This explanation (“[to spur] one’s trust in G‑d”) varies from the one that the Alter Rebbe had given in the first edition (Mahadura Kama) of his Shulchan Aruch:. Sec. 1:10; op. cit., p. 112. “[One should also read] the passage concerning the manna, to fortify his faith (emunah) that all his provisions are granted to him by Divine Providence, for the Holy One, blessed be He, specifically provided every man with an omer [of manna] for every member of his household. As it is written, ‘When they measured it by the omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little was lacking nothing.’ ”

In the same two contexts the Alter Rebbe writes: “It is proper to recite every day the passage of the Akeidah (the Binding of Yitzchak).” In the later edition of his Shulchan Aruch he gives only one reason for doing so — “to recall the merit of the Patriarchs.” In its first edition he had given two reasons — “to recall the merit of the Patriarchs before the Holy One, blessed be He,” and further, “This also serves to make one’s [Evil] Inclination submit to the service of G‑d, just as Yitzchak sacrificed himself.”

It will be noted that in the edition that explains the reading of the passage concerning the manna in terms of trust, the Alter Rebbe explains the reading of the passage concerning the Akeidah in terms of the merit of the Patriarchs. By contrast, in the edition that gives two reasons for reading the passage concerning the Akeidah, he explains the reading of the passage concerning the manna in terms of faith.

To distinguish between faith and trust: Faith relates not to practicalities but to one’s Divine service. Hence, even when a man of faith makes a living, he will appreciate that it is given to him by G‑d. He will not delude himself into thinking that “my strength and the might of my hand have brought me all this prosperity.”5 Trust, by contrast, has a practical consequence. A person without a livelihood could despair, thinking, “From where will my help come?”6 Instead, despite his predicament, he places his trust in G‑d. Thus, faith [merely] indicates a certain rung in a person’s Divine service, whereas in response to a person’s trust, G‑d reciprocates “measure for measure”7 and fulfills his needs.

This distinction has a halachic corollary. If the reason for reading the passage concerning the manna relates to faith, one may do so not only on weekdays but also on Shabbos. If, however, the reason for reading this passage relates to trust, it should not be read on Shabbos, for the prayers of that day do not include material requests.

(b) Faith is constant. Trust is a sensation that is aroused within one when it is needed.

Another8 difference between faith (emunah) and trust (bitachon) is the following:

Faith is constant. Since faith is the believer’s certainty in his basic axiom, it is constantly present, even when his faith has no immediate practical application.9 Take, for example, a man’s faith that his entire livelihood comes to him through Divine Providence. It would not be appropriate to say that he believes in this only at the time that he is actually engaged in earning his livelihood. Rather, his faith is within his soul constantly.

This is not the case with trust. A man’s certainty and reliance on G‑d for his livelihood is a sensation that is aroused within him when it is needed:10 when he is working to make a living, he trusts that “the L‑rd your G‑d will bless you in all that you do.”11 He trusts that G‑d will certainly make his activities succeed so that he will able to earn his livelihood.

In the same way, if a person is confronted by imminent misfortune, and sees no possibility of being saved from it by natural means, he does not fall into despair (G‑d forbid), [as if left with the question,] “From where will my help come?”12 Rather, he is certain13 — i.e., he trusts14 — that He Who is the Master of nature, and can change it,15 will certainly help him. As the following verse answers, “My help will come from G‑d, Who makes heaven and earth.”16

(c) The Certainty of One’s Trust Elicits Salvation

It17 could be argued that when a Jew demonstrates his complete trust in G‑d, so that it is utterly clear to him that G‑d will show him kindness that is unconcealed and manifest, then regardless of the calculations and possibilities of the natural order, that trust itself elicits a reciprocal response from Above. G‑d relates to him measure for measure, for this, as the Torah explicitly rules, is the Divine mode of operation.18 G‑d grants him the kind of good that is visible and manifest,19 utterly disregarding any calculations as to whether he deserves it.20

(d) Food From the King’s Hand, or Through a Natural Conduit?

(i) R.21 Yeissa the Elder22 would prepare his meal every day only after first having asked that his food come from G‑d. As he would say, “We will not prepare the meal until it is given by the King.”23

Now, this calls for explanation. Since the food for the meal was already in his possession and only needed to be prepared (“He had food for that day”24 ), what is the meaning of his request that G‑d grant him his food?25

This could be understood as follows.

The Sages teach26 that Yosef was punished for having requested of the Chief Butler, “Mention me to Pharaoh.”27 On this teaching, Rabbeinu Bachaye comments:28 “Heaven forfend that Yosef the Righteous should make his trust depend on the Chief Butler; he trusted in G‑d alone. He only meant that G‑d had engineered his encounter with the Chief Butler so that He could perform a miracle through him.” Why, then, was Yosef punished?29 “Because in the Chief Butler he sought a medium, a causal link30 (through which G‑d would send him his salvation) — and it is not fitting that tzaddikim of his stature should seek a causal link. This is why he was punished. He should have trusted only that the Holy One, blessed be He — the Cause of all causes — would provide him with the appropriate causal link, without his seeking it.”

This comment has been queried:31 Speaking of bitachon (trust),the author of Chovos HaLevavos writes that there is an obligation to be concerned with causal links, and he supports this claim with several proofs.32 Why, then, was Yosef punished?

In resolution, it has been explained33 that trust exists at two levels:

The Natural Mode: Sometimes G‑d relates to [a person] in such a way that “things [such as Divinely-bestowed blessings] are elicited — and they proceed to descend — in an orderly manner according to the pattern of nature.”34 (As expressed in the language of Chassidus, this mode of descent characterizes the flow of Divine energy that is called memaleh kol almin — Divinity that is immanent in all the worlds.) When G‑d relates to a person in such a way, he should seek an appropriate medium and create a natural vessel or conduit, because this particular mode ofDivine influence is reaching him in a way that is vested in nature.

The Supernatural Mode: Sometimes a person perceives that G‑d is relating to him in such a way that “things [such as Divinely-bestowed blessings] are elicited and drawn downward in a manner that does not accord with the pattern of nature.” (As expressed in the language of Chassidus, this mode of descent characterizes the flow of Divine energy that is called sovev kol almin — Divinity that transcends all the worlds.) When G‑d relates to a person in such a way, a higher level of trust is demanded of him. He is expected to “trust in G‑d’s direction alone and to take no steps whatever, only to trust that G‑d will certainly help him by arranging an appropriate medium.”35

To revert to the above question as to why Yosef the Righteous should have been punished for seeking a natural medium through which his salvation should come: Since through his avodah he was constantly connected with the latter, supernatural mode of Divine influence,36 he ought to have conducted himself at the loftier level of trust.

(ii) The distinction between the above two levels in the attribute of trust is also apparent while one is fashioning a medium.37

Why, at the first level, is a person required to make a vessel? Because when G‑d relates to him in such a way that “[Divinely-bestowed blessings] are elicited... according to the pattern of nature,” nature and natural processes acquire a certain standing in his mind. This is why he must seek a conduit or a medium through which the Divine blessings will be conveyed.

This is not the case with a person who trusts at a loftier level — who needs “to take no steps whatever, only to trust in G‑d.” In his mind, the processes of nature are of no account. (This is why he needs no medium nor vessel.) Hence, even when a natural medium or conduit for his livelihood exists, he does not consider his livelihood to be any nearer to him than if it did not exist. Because the medium or vessel in their own right are of no account in his eyes, he knows only that he receives everything directly from G‑d — and indeed, the medium or vessel were created for him38 by G‑d, together with his livelihood.

This also explains why R. Yeissa the Elder39 would say, “We will not prepare the meal until it is given by the King,” even though “he had food for that day.” For his trust was such that he perceived every single activity not as his own doing, but as given by G‑d.40 Hence, even when the food was already in his home, in his possession, and needed only to be prepared, he felt that it was not his food — that he was taking his food and preparing it — but that “it was given by the King.” At this present moment, G‑d was giving it to him. This, too, he therefore had to request of G‑d, just as he would ask G‑d for his food when it was not in his possession.

(iii) The above concept enables us to understand another aspect of the conduct of R. Yeissa Sava.

From the language of the Zohar — “R. Yeissa Sava would prepare his meal every day only after first having asked...” — it would appear that this was his practice even on Shabbos.41 Now, Shabbos is not a timefor making one’s material requests. How, then, did this sage ask for food even on Shabbos?

In the light of the concept discussed in sec. (ii) above, the problem is solved. Requesting one’s material needs on Shabbos is out of place when the individual is focusing on himself, when he is requesting that his needs and wants be filled. Not so the prayer of R. Yeissa Sava. What impelled his prayer was the very fact that he was utterly devoid of self-concern — to the extent that at every single step he felt that everything depended on G‑d, in the spirit of the verse, “[G‑d desires...] those who long for His kindness.”42 And, as the Zohar43 comments, “These are the people who yearn and wait every single day to ask the Holy One, blessed be He, for their provisions.” In other words, their prayer simply expresses the fact that they are “longing for His kindness.”44 Their prayer voices their feeling that everything comes only as an act of G‑d’s lovingkindness.

And praying for food in this manner is in place even on Shabbos.

(iv) True, the above-described conduct of R. Yeissa Sava is not equally appropriate to everyone. Nevertheless, “a minute portion and particle of it”45 is applicable to everyone,46 at least at certain times.

And here, it could be suggested, lies the difference between weekdays and Shabbos. During the six weekdays, when a Jew lives his life as set out in the Shulchan Aruch47 — going about his affairs, doing his business honestly, preoccupied with his livelihood — he trusts in G‑d at the level at which one seeks a natural medium,48 because he cannot be expected to utterly transcend nature and to trust at the superior level.49 Shabbos, by contrast, is not a day of activity,50 and at that time a Jew is elevated above and beyond workaday activities. On that day he is expected to attain, at least to some degree, the superior level of trust — the trust of “those who long for His kindness.”