Two Forms of Trust

According to Jewish law, the weekly Haftorah reading from the Prophets is to be “in the spirit of the Torah portion.”1 The relationship between the Torah portion of Balak and its Haftorah is seemingly obvious: The Haftorah relates that G‑d says to the Jewish people:2 “My nation, remember what Balak king of Moab devised, and what Billam the son of Beor answered him; the events from Shittim…” This is a clear reference to the portion of Balak.

Yet the Haftorah should relate to the Torah portion not only through a specific verse, but in its overall content. Especially so, since the Haftorah reading originated when it was decreed by the nations that the Jewish people could not read from the Torah itself.3

Since the contents of all Torah passages are alluded to in the way they start,4 it follows that there is a connection between the beginning of this Haftorah section and the general content of the Torah portion of Balak.

The Haftorah begins with the verse:5 “Then the remnant of Yaakov will be in the midst of many peoples … they will [need not] place their trust in man, nor count on the sons of men.” It speaks of the very beginning of the Redemption, and not of the time when the era of Moshiach is firmly established.

This can be seen from the fact that the Haftorah goes on to state that at that time, there will still be wars with the nations.6 Moreover, at that time evil will still exist within the Jews themselves.7

The Torah portion of Balak speaks of a time, just prior to the Jewish people’s first entry into Eretz Yisrael , that will be similar to their entry into Eretz Yisrael at the time of the Redemption.

The preparation for the Redemption is as mentioned at the beginning of the Haftorah : “they will [need not] place their trust in man, nor count on the sons of men.” Although this situation will precede the complete Redemption, it will even then not be necessary to rely on man — although such reliance is normally acceptable.

For the verse tells us:8 “G‑d will bless you in all that you do,” which our Sages9 interpret to mean that a person must make a vessel for G‑d’s blessing by using natural means.10 “One may not rely on a miracle.”11

Since in the normal course of events, one must count on the assistance of other people, it follows that this is permissible. Nevertheless, at that time even this kind of trust will not be necessary.

G‑d’s ultimate intent is not to negate natural conduct, but to purify and elevate it,12 until it becomes clear to all that nature too is united with Him. We thus understand that it does not mean that at that time man will not depend on other men, but rather that one will then see only G‑dly assistance even in that form of conduct.

For “in all that you do” may be understood in two ways:

a) The person may come to know that nature is merely “an ax in the hands of the hewer,” but that since G‑d wants us to make an appropriate vehicle, nature retains some degree of importance.

b:) The person can see nature as having no importance at all, viewing it entirely as a means of accomplishing G‑d’s ends.13

In the first instance, a man’s actions are separate from his Torah and mitzvos ; when the two clash — such as when one feels that by giving too much charity he will not have enough for himself — he must vanquish his natural inclinations.

However, in the second instance, all of one’s actions are permeated with the desire to fulfill G‑d’s will. Such a person will not need to vanquish his natural inclinations, for they will be in harmony with G‑d’s desire.

The Haftorah thus informs us that as we prepare to enter Eretz Yisrael for the last time, it is within our power to lift ourselves up until we view everything as being utterly united with G‑d.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, pp. 293-298.