Emunah: What’s it For?

When it comes to our day to day life we are always using things. The list is, in fact, very long indeed. We get up in the morning, b”H, out of bed, (yes, that’s a thing), we get dressed wearing shirt, shoes, undergarments etc. We eat off of plates using silverware, drive to work/school in our car. To make a long story short: we utilize many many things during the course of a day. Each and every thing that I have I know what I need it for. In fact I work to acquire them because I have need of the form and function that they provide.

So, I ask myself, what do I need emunah for? What is its form and function? With what does it provide me?

The short answer? Practice what you preach!

Many people profess a belief in G-d, but do they actually live it?

There’s a joke about a guy who was driving around on the streets of Manhattan, looking for a place to park. He’s looking and looking – nothing! So he decides that the time has come to pray. He opens up his heart and starts saying “G-d! I really need you now! I’ve got a meeting in a few minutes and I could really use Your help just now to find a parking spot”. Just as he finishes he notices that up ahead a person is pulling out, so he quickly says “Thanks for listening G-d, but I’ve got it handled!”

We preach prayer, but do we ignore when it is answered, or worse, ascribe our success in the endeavor for which we prayed as solely our own?

As I discuss in detail in book 1 of Core Emunah (Hello? G-d?) emunah is not a noun, it’s a verb. It is the practice of what I preach, the result of which is that I internalize and improve upon my existing faith and trust in HaKadosh baruch Hu, (henceforth HKB”H, G-d). It’s how I internalize my core beliefs.

What do I need emunah for? To add life to my life.

The things that I preach: why do I preach them? Because I feel that they are attributes or attitudes that are worthy of praise. They are things that lead to a meaningful life. But do I put into practice those things that I preach? If the answer is “yes” then you are adding life to life. If you do them because HKB”H told you in the Torah – then you are practicing emunah.

Not everything, however, is emunah. Emunah, as its name implies, means trust. You trust HKB”H concerning things which are explicit, not things that are not. When the Torah says, for example, that if you keep the commandment of the Shmitta year that on the sixth year, (the one preceding Shmitta), you will get a double portion – there to trust HKB”H is an act of emunah.  If a person were to give a tenth of his/her income in fulfillment of the mitzvah of tzedakah, (charity), concerning which the Navi tells us “…ubachanuni na bezot”, (“and test me on this thing”, the test being if HKB”H will fulfill the rest of the verse, which speaks of a person’s income being increased as a result of his act of giving ma’aser, a tenth of his produce), that is an act of emunah. [A Rav should be consulted, however, as to whom the monies should be given as it changes based on each and every person’s personal circumstances]. These are “active” examples of emunah, those with measurable “rewards”. However in keeping any of the mitzvos (commandments) of the Torah, even those for which there is no measurable “reward” mentioned, is an act of emunah. Why do I keep the Torah? Because HKB”H told me to. I trust that He has my best interests in mind and that He instructed me to keep these mitzvos because they are the very best thing for me to do with my life. Therefore in keeping any of the mitzvos, those explicit in either the written Torah or in the oral Torah, I am utilizing my emunah, internalizing it, strengthening my trust in HKB”H and adding qualitative life to my life. [As an aside: see the post that I made on parshas Mattos “Am I too busy living life to stop and learn about life”]

“Everything will be well” – is not emunah. “G-d will provide”, in many instances, also is not. Unless you are a prophet and received direct instruction from HKB”H, (don’t worry, you’re not), then to live your life in this manner is what is called “emunah tefeilah”, meaning bland, tasteless emunah.

You wouldn’t eat a bland steak, why would you live a bland life?

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