One1 of the foundations of our faith and of our Torah is the attribute of trust, bitachon. Plainly and simply, without any artful interpretations,2 this means that one should trust in G‑d that things will work out for the good, and in a way that is visible and manifest. This understanding of the term is apparent from numerous passages in the Shas3 and in the teachings of the Sages; it is discussed at length in Chovos HaLevavos, Shaar HaBitachon; and likewise in the chassidic discourses4 that are based on the phrase, “Trust in G‑d forever and ever.”5

This is what is entailed by trust, to the point that even if one sees that his situation is not as it ought to be, according to the indications that one is given from Above or down here below, “one should not refrain from [pleading for] Divine mercy.”6 Rather, he should gather strength in his complete trust in G‑d (particularly by means of prayer and good deeds), trusting that the undesirable situation will be transformed to the kind of good that is visibly and overtly good, and indeed, to a level of good that is superior to that of his previous state, “just as light is superior to darkness.”7

Moreover, in addition to trusting that G‑d will certainly grant him good that is recognizably and manifestly good, this must also be requested: “There is a positive commandment to pray...; one must request and plead for the fulfillment of his needs....”8 These requests are made in the way they are detailed in Shemoneh Esreh, where what is intended is the plain meaning of the words that address the One Who “heals the sick” and “blesses the years,” and the like. The same is true of other, private requests that every individual can make in the course of the blessing that begins Shema Koleinu (in addition to its standard wording).9 What is common to all these requests is that they relate to visible and overt good.

On the other hand, when (G‑d forbid) an undesirable incident takes place, then after the event10 “one is obligated to recite a blessing over evil [tidings] just as one recites a blessing over good [tidings], as it is written,11 ‘You shall love the L‑rd your G‑dwith all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might....’ [The Sages understood the last term12 to imply that] with whatever measure He metes out [your fortunes]” — and Rashi explains: ‘whether it be a kindly measure or a harsh measure’ — “thank him.” Not only that, but one is also directed “to accept [a misfortune] with joy”287 — “like the joy in a visible and obvious good, for it, too, is for the good....”13

In this spirit, the Sages taught that “whatever the Merciful One does, He does for the good.”287 Or, in the Holy Tongue,14 Gam zu letovah — “This, too, is for the good.” However, the difference between these two teachings is not merely that in one phrase “for the good” is in Aramaic (letav) whereas in the other phrase “for the good” is in the Holy Tongue (letovah). The difference is also one of substance.15 As may be seen from the examples and narratives that the Gemara cites, “letav” is used to indicate merely the prevention of harm, whereas “letovah” is used to indicate that [for example] the dust that replacedthe precious gems proved to bring a benefit more valuable than actual precious gems!

Accordingly, a Jew must place his trust in G‑d and request that He provide all his needs with the kind of good that is plainly and recognizably good. Nevertheless, even if (G‑d forbid) his prayer was not effective, he knows that “this matter has come from G‑d,”16 and, without a doubt, “whatever the Merciful One does, He does for the good.” Moreover, “This, too, is for the good,” even though it is not the kind of good that can be discerned by fleshly eyes.