“And Moshe returned to HASHEM and
said, “HASHEM, why have You done evil to this people?
Why have You sent me?” — Shemos 5:22
HASHEM sent Moshe Rabbeinu to be the
redeemer of the Jewish people. However, from the moment that
he embarked on this mission, the slavery became more intense
and the pain more profound. Out of love for his nation,
Moshe turned to HASHEM and said, “Why have You worsened the
situation? Why have You sent me?”
The Gemara tells us that
Moshe was punished for questioning HASHEM. HASHEM said, “It
is a shame that that which is lost can no longer be found.”
It is as if HASHEM were saying, “They don’t make them like
they used to. Avrohom, Yitzchak, Yaakov, those were great
people, but no more. Moshe, you don’t compare to them. They
trusted Me, but you aren’t on their level.”
Moshe was the single
greatest human being who ever lived
The question on this Gemara
is that that the single greatest human being who ever lived
was Moshe Rabbenu. The Rambam calls him the “father” in
Torah and wisdom. He was the greatest of all prophets. In
fact, one of our Thirteen Principles of Faith is that Moshe
was the greatest of all Navi’im, greater than those
who came before him and those who came after.
Since we know that Moshe was greater than
even the Avos, how can we understand this Gemara? It seems
to saying that Avrohom, Yitzchak, and Yaakov were superior
The difference between
Emunah and Bitachon
The answer to this question lies in
understanding the distinction between emunah and
bitachon. The Rambam defines emunah as the
knowledge that HASHEM created and continues to run
all of Creation. Simply put, nothing can exist and no
activity can occur without HASHEM.
Bitachon, however, is a quite
different. The Chovos Halevovos defines bitachon
as trusting in HASHEM. It is a sense of relying
on HASHEM to watch over and protect me, as if to say, “I
take my heavy burden and place it on HASHEM.” While I am
responsible to be proactive, I am not in charge of the
outcome, and I am not the determinant of the results. I rely
on HASHEM to care for me.
Emunah is a state of
understanding; bitachon is a state of trust.
Emunah means knowing that HASHEM is involved in every
activity on the planet; bitachon means trusting
in HASHEM in every situation.
A person can have emunah
and not bitachon
A person can have emunah and not
bitachon. Pharaoh was a classic example. When
threatened by the Jewish overpopulation, Pharaoh’s solution
was to throw the baby boys into the Nile. The Medrash
explains that this wasn’t a flippant reaction – it was
highly calculated. Pharaoh knew that HASHEM promised Noach
that He wouldn’t bring another flood. He also knew that
HASHEM pays back “measure for measure.” Therefore, Pharaoh
determined that HASHEM would want to bring a flood to pay
back the Egyptians for drowning the babies, but because of
HASHEM’s promise to Noach, that couldn’t happen, so he felt
protected from HASHEM’s wrath.
Clearly, Pharaoh understood the power of
HASHEM. He realized that HASHEM watches over the world. He
also understood that HASHEM acts with justice. Pharaoh had
no problem with emunah, but he sure didn’t trust in
HASHEM – he rebelled. He had emunah, but no
Growing in emunah
Both emunah and bitachon
are based on relating to the world in a deeper manner.
Emunah is the understanding that HASHEM is involved in
more than just the big picture issues: life and death, war,
famine, disease. . . HASHEM is involved in the minutiae of
my daily life. HASHEM is there with me, 24/7, 365, all day,
every day, from morning to night.
Amazingly, I can have this understanding
and yet lack a level of trust in HASHEM.
understanding the goodness of HASHEM
To truly rely on HASHEM, there are two
additional criteria I must feel. I must know that HASHEM
loves me more than I love myself, and I must know that
HASHEM knows better than I do what is for my good.
Bitachon is predicated upon
knowing that HASHEM has my best interests in mind and that
He knows better than I what is for my good. When a person
realizes this, and then takes his heavy load and transfers
it to HASHEM – that is bitachon.
The answer: Moshe was
greater in emunah – the Avos were greater in bitachon
The answer to the question seems to be
that Moshe Rabbeinu was on a higher level of emunah
than any other human being, then or since. He saw HASHEM
with an absolute clarity. Just as we see a piece of wood in
front of us as undeniably real, he saw HASHEM – right there.
But absolute trust in HASHEM doesn’t necessarily follow.
Bitachon islearned, and practiced. Much like a character
trait that one develops over many years, one learns, often
through life experiences, to be totally and utterly trusting
in the kindness of HASHEM. Apparently, the Avos reached a
higher level in this regard. They had an unwavering sense of
the constant goodness and loving kindness of HASHEM; hence,
they were able to be more trusting of HASHEM even when on
the surface, there were many questions to be asked. Moshe
was greater in emunah, while they were greater in
This distinction has great relevance.
Often our problems with faith come from this one issue: we
have emunah, but not bitachon. When a person
comes to the core understanding that HASHEM is more
concerned for my good than I am, and that HASHEM knows my
needs far better than I, he comes to a different degree of
trust, a different level of relying on HASHEM. He comes to
Sent by: Joy Haber
on Jan 3, 2012