One’s1 trust in G‑d can be called complete only when there is no shadow of an indication as to where help will come from, nor is there any physical source for it. People say that a drowning man clutches at a straw. But when there is still a straw to hang on to — that is, when there is still a shadow of a physical indication that one may yet be helped, even if only physically and even if only partially — this cannot yet be called a complete trust in G‑d.

When there is a shadow of an indication, what one has is hope (tikvah). This is the word that appears in the Scriptural phrase, es tikvas chut hashani (“the cord of crimson thread”), where tikvah means “cord.”2 The crimson thread served as a sign to indicate the house of Rachav, so that when the soldiers of the Children of Israel approached it they would know that they had to save the people who lived there. This sign is described by the above phrase, because even though it was a visible and overt sign, all kinds of things could happen to it — the cord could break, or the wind could blow it away, or whatever. Hence the use of the word tikvah (“cord”/“hope”), alluding to her hope that everything would work out well and that the cord of crimson thread would remain intact. For the term “hope” is appropriate in relation to something that tangibly exists, like the straw of the man who is drowning in the ocean.

By contrast, trust (bitachon) in G‑d is what one has when he is without even a shadow of an indication that he will be saved. He does not even have a straw to clutch at. He has only his trust in G‑d. Yet even though he places his trust in G‑d, he is embittered and sad; a silent melancholy veils his face; whoever sees him can tell that his heart is burdened by a grievous anxiety.

Now, according to the teaching of our mentor, the Baal Shem Tov, when a person places his trust in G‑d but is agonized and worried and sighing, he has not yet attained a complete trust in G‑d. For when one’strust in G‑d is complete, his unfavorable — or even (G‑d forbid) bad — situation should not affect his heart by causing it distress or, certainly, melancholy. Rather, he should do, according to the Torah and mortal understanding, whatever he is able to do, and place his trust in G‑d. He should not have even a shadow of a doubt that G‑d will help him, inasmuch as His Providence watches over every single created being [...]. All their affairs and even all of their most trivial motions are under the eye of His specific supervision,162 and it is this Divine Providence that gives life and strength to every living being in the heavens and on earth.