Excerpts from Intro to Emunah & Bitachon by Mrs. Chana Krasny.
Click below to listen to the audio (6 min)
Recently I read in an article that someone went to Rav Steinman and asked him the following question: If, in every generation, there's a middah that they’re expected to perfect within themselves, what is the middah of our times?
And Rabbi Steinman replied, “Emunah and bitochon.”
Hashem said, “Let go, and I’ll catch you.”
When I read that, I said to myself, this is really a powerful thing. Right now, we don’t know how much longer before we’re all going to be together in Eretz Yisroel. Every single day is an opportunity, in these days of Ikvesa d’Mashicha, the footsteps of Mashiach, to strengthen our connection with the Ribono Shel Olam, so we better use as much of our koiach to grow as quickly as possible, and this has incredible power.
So I’ll tell you a joke that I heard fifteen years ago, I believe it was in Nevada. A Young Israel rav named Rabbi Yitzchak Wein told it over, and it made such an impression on me, I’ll never forget it. It was about emunah and bitochon:
There's a man walking down next to the Grand Canyon, and he became so overwhelmed and awed by the beautiful sight that he didn’t notice the shaky gravel next to the edge of the cliff. He lost his footing and went right over the edge, and would have certainly dropped down to his utter death, except that there was a protruding branch, sticking out from the side of the cliff.
He grabbed on to it, holding on with all his might, and even though he was alone, he cried out anyway: “Is anybody out there?” Of course no one answered, so he waited a few minutes, as his arms grew more and more tired, and he cried out again with all his koiach, “Is there anybody out there?”
And still no one answered him. And he waited again another five minutes, until his arms got so tired he thought he was going to drop. And in his hoarse and frightened voice, he cries out again, “Is there anybody out there?”
Only this time, he hears a voice answer him back. And the big voice says, “Yes, I am here.”
The man replied, “Who are you?” And the voice said, “I am Hashem.” And the man said, “Hashem, oh please save me, please save me, I don’t want to die. What should I do?”
And Hashem said, “Let go, and I’ll catch you.”
At which point the man said, “Is there anybody else out there?”
Rabbi Wein explained that the reason he told this particular joke was to illustrate the difference between emunah and bitochon. Even though we often use the terms interchangeably in our speech, emunah and bitochon are really two different things.
Rabbi Shimshon Pincus, ztz”l, writes, in Gates of Emunah: “Whereas emunah is knowing with our minds that Hashem created the world and runs it, bitochon is when Hashem becomes a tangible reality for us, a solid fact. It is when Hashem becomes so real for us that we feel we can rely on Him completely. Bitochon is when we relate to Hashem as a personality, no less alive than our father, brother etc. This is bitochon.”
Mrs. Chana Krasny, firstly a wife and mother of 8, is a motivational speaker for women’s organizations as well as high-school and seminary aged girls on the topics of Prayer, Being Inspired, Connecting to Hashem, and Scheduling Success. She co-authored a quarterly-column in Binah, “Building a Happy Home," with Rebbetzin Scheine Brog, sh’tchia, inspired by the teachings of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, ztz”l.