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    Parshas Shoftim

    It states (20:1) “When you go to war with your enemy and you see horses and chariots, a nation larger than yours, don’t be afraid…” The Rabbeinu Yonah (Shaarei Teshuvah 3:32) writes, “This is telling us that if a person sees some problem approaching in his life, he should be confident with Hashem’s salvation…” One should practice thinking, “Hashem will help. Things will work out. Don’t be afraid.” The reward for bitachon is immense. In Olam HaBa, we will be immensely rewarded for each time we trusted in Hashem. In addition, bitachon grants us good in this world, as Hashem helps those who trust in Him and He directs them on the right path.

    When one is afraid and worried, the worst things can happen, chalilah. In Shemoneh Esrei we say, “Those who slander shouldn’t have hope…” Afterwards, the blessing states, “they should be uprooted and broken…” It seems we should begin with those harsher expressions. Why do we begin with stating that they shouldn’t have hope? We can answer that the primary prayer is that they shouldn’t have hope, for when a person loses hope everything bad can befall him.

    The Chasam Sofer zt’l (Toras Moshe, Ekev, Shma) explains that Hashem could have made people without needing anything, but then they would never turn to Hashem. The greatest kindness, therefore, are that they lack things. He teaches this lesson on the bracha Borei Nefashos. He writes, “Hakadosh Baruch Hu does great kindness with His creations to enable them to quench their thirst. But this kindness is because they were created lacking, that they thirst for water. If Hashem would have created them without needing anything, they wouldn’t be thirsty, and they wouldn’t need water. So what is the purpose of this blessing? The truth is, this is the greatest kindness in the creation of man. He was created lacking so he will recognize his Creator, serve Him, and earn both worlds. His lacking is therefore the greatest benefit.

    The Sefer Ha’Ikrim explains that the person who has bitachon should be confident that Hashem will certainly help him. You wait, you pray, and you hope for your salvation, and have no doubt that it will come. The Sefer Ha’Ikrim compares this to someone who aspires for morning to come. He’s anticipating something he knows will surely come. So shall we believe that Hashem’s salvation will undoubtedly arrive. Otherwise, the Sefer Ha’Ikrim writes, the aspirations and hopes aren’t good for us. As it states (Mishlei 13:12), “prolonged waiting creates heartache.” It isn’t healthy to be always waiting and hoping. It can cause despair. The avodah of bitachon should therefore always come along with confidence that eventually Hashem will surely help you.

    The Brisker Rav taught, trust in Hashem and feel joy and pleasure even before the salvation comes because you are certain that Hashem will help you, and in the merit of your high level of bitachon, Hashem will grant you all your heart’s desires.

    One shouldn’t think that only tzaddikim can trust in Hashem, but how can a person who has many sins trust in Hashem? Perhaps Hashem doesn’t want to give him His kindness? The Chofetz Chaim proves that bitachon isn’t solely for the tzaddikim from the verse (Tehillim 33:18): “Hashem’s eyes [and providence] are on those who fear Him; for those who trust in His kindness.” The verse states that Hashem’s providence is on two categories of people: (1) Those who fear Him, (2) Those who trust in Him. The second group doesn’t yet fear Hashem, but Hashem will nevertheless watch over them because they have bitachon.

    Having bitachon is a praise for Hashem, as bitachon means that you trust in Hashem’s strength, compassion and kindness. This is alluded to in the verse (Tehillim 71:14), “I will always trust in You and I will add onto all your praise.” This hints that trusting in Hashem is greater than all praises.

    It states (Tehillim 65), for You, silence is praise. This can mean when one silently turns to Hashem, that is to praise Hashem. Bitachon is as though you vowed and brought a sacrifice.

    Someone goes over to his friend and says, “Can you watch a bag of precious gems for me?” He doesn’t agree. No one would. Who would want to take on this responsibility? Why should one risk being responsible for so much wealth? But if someone tosses the bag at his friend and as he quickly runs away, he says, “Watch this for me. I’m rushing to catch the train,” his friend will guard the bag of precious gems for him. What else can he do? Similarly, the verse is implying that when one flings his bag of worries onto Hashem and he doesn’t leave himself with even the smallest worry, it is certain that Hashem will take care of him.

    On that topic, we share the following story: A person came to his rav and said, “I have recently become a doctor, but no one is coming to my office. I keep waiting in my empty office, wondering why I chose this profession…” The rav advised that when someone calls to make an appointment, he should say that there are no appointments available, and he can only see them in a few weeks. “People will think you are a busy, sought after doctor, they will tell others, and eventually, you will become a popular doctor.” The plan worked; many people began coming to him. One day, the rav wasn’t feeling good. He remembered he has a student, a doctor, so he called him to make an appointment. The doctor told him the next available appointment is in six months. The rav said, “Are you going to pull that trick on me too? Don’t forget who made you famous.” The nimshal is Hashem gives a person wealth and success; the person becomes busy and he doesn’t have time to go to the study hall to pray and to learn. Hashem says, “Don’t you have time for Me? Don’t you remember who made you so busy?”

    Temimus means being at peace with everything that happens to you because you believe that everything is exactly as it should be. And those who take this outlook, they are with Hashem. As Rashi writes, “then you will be with Hashem and His lot.”

    The Divrei Yisrael zt’l describes the essence of temimus: A child doesn’t worry about the future. He trusts in his parent’s abilities and compassion. This is as how one should trust in Hashem. As Dovid HaMelech says (Tehillim 131), “I silenced my soul like a child who nurses from his mother.”

    A child builds a castle from Lego, and then someone comes along and breaks it, bringing the child to tears. A thirteen-year-old bachur laughs at the child for crying over such foolishness. But that bachur has his set of problems. He is upset and crying because his mashgiach rebuked him. An older bachur sees how the younger bachur is upset at his clash with his mashgiach, and he laughs at that problem, because he has far greater problems to deal with. He is in shidduchim, and a shidduch he was hoping for fell through, and he is very upset about that. A yungerman sees the older bachur upset that he lost a shidduch, and he thinks to himself, “Is that a reason to be upset? One shidduch doesn’t go through, the next one will. But I have a family to support. He has no idea about the struggles of shalom bayis, chinuch habanim, parnassah that yungerleit deal with on a daily basis. He doesn’t know what true problems are. Someone older sees this yungerman bemoaning his fate, worried about his parnassah, etc., and he laughs at those sufferings, because he claims that he is going through much harder times. He is in the midst of marrying off his children, and he has to pay large sums of money each year. David HaMelech says, “Hashem, how many are my hardships. I know what troubles are, because I’ve been through all types. Therefore, if I say that I have a problem, you can be certain that the problem is very great. Nevertheless, even in those circumstances, Hashem will help him.”

    Many people think it is impossible for them to do teshuvah, because they know how hard it is to change. Therefore, we must inform them that Hashem helps us with our teshuvah. Our abilities are definitely limited, but if we try, Hashem will help us, and Hashem can do anything. Change is therefore very possible.

    The Torah says, “When you go out to war on your enemy, and you see horses, chariots, a nation that is greater than yours, don’t be afraid of them, because Hashem your G-d is with you…” (Devarim 20:1). The Or HaChaim explains that the verse is alluding to the greatest war of all – the war against the yetzer hara. The yetzer hara is stronger than people because, (1) He has more experience in “the great battle” (2) Human nature desires those things the yetzer hara is selling us, (3) after a person commits many sins, the yetzer hara becomes even stronger than before. With these factors working against us, it seems we will never succeed overcoming the yetzer hara. The verse however tells us not to worry. When you go out to war against the yetzer hara, the horse represents the yetzer hara who is trained in warfare, the human body desires sin and forbidden pleasures. The strength of the yetzer hara has increased, since the person listened to him so many times in the past. Taking into account all of the above, how can one change his ways? The answer is, don’t be afraid, Hashem is with you and He will help you. The Or HaChaim writes, “It is true that if you would be battling with your own power, you don’t have strength to win this war, but since Hashem is with you, His great strength will save you.”

    Rebbe Mottele Slonimer zy’a writes (Maamar Mordechai p.342): Two tzaddikim made a pact that whoever dies first would come tell his friend in a dream what happened to him in his judgment. One of them was niftar, and soon afterwards came to his friend in a dream. He said, “When the court reviewed my deeds, they saw that everything was perfect. But I had one sin, the sin of shochad (taking bribes). Once, while serving as av beis din, one of the parties placed money into my pocket without me knowing. For this, I was told that I would need to go to Gehinom. I told the court that I don’t want to go there, so they brought me to a very large building, gave me a small hammer, and said, ‘Demolish this building with the hammer. When you finish, you will go to Gan Eden.’ “I was devastated. It seemed that I would take many years before I succeed in demolishing this great edifice. It was a very large, sturdy building and I only had a small hammer to work with. “But then I thought: ‘Why did I wear tallis and tefillin every day during my lifetime? Why did I study Torah and keep the mitzvos? It was because I wanted to do Hashem’s will? Right now, it’s Hashem’s will to destroy this large building with this hammer. So I will do it with joy — even if it takes many years.’ With a joyous heart, I raised the hammer and swung it at building with all my might. The entire building collapsed, and I was swiftly brought to my place in Gan Eden.” This story reminds us that sometimes a deed seems very difficult, but if you set yourself to doing it, you see that it wasn’t so hard. Similarly, doing teshuvah sometimes seems impossible, but if you try, and Hashem helps you, you will attain your goals much quicker than imagined.