26 Kislev 5778 / Thursday, December 14, 2017 | Torah Reading: Mikeitz
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Graduate-level Emuna    

Graduate-level Emuna

It is very easy to fall into the train of thought that what is best for us will always feel good. This is often when emuna is elevated from a blessing to a test.


Our emuna is going to bring Moshiach. It will usher in the era of world peace. Our trust in G-d will enable Israel to vanquish her enemies and reestablish the third and final Jewish Kingdom. It will reinstate the line of King David. It will raise the dead. For every argument in the Gemara that ends, “This will be resolved with the coming of Moshiach,” it will be our emuna in Hashem that brings the answers we have been waiting thousands of years to learn.
Such a monumental achievement cannot come easily. There have to be tests. There has to be resistance. The counterweight to reaching higher levels of emuna cannot be light. The tests have to be excruciating. We are talking about saving the world!
On the initial level, emuna is the constant belief that everything in our life comes from G-d. Everything is essentially good, and it is being done for our ultimate benefit. All that is happening to us are messages from G-d guiding us to the fulfillment of our mission on earth.
What happens when what is best for us has absolutely nothing to do with what we want in life? What happens when what is best for our eternity is the exact opposite of what we want most right now? What if those dreams we were working so hard to realize were exactly what was standing in the way of our soul correction?
What happens when Hashem’s benevolence feels like the worst thing ever to happen to us? How do we deal with the contradiction in life that sometimes the cure feels far worse than the illness?
We understand that this is emuna elevated to the next level.
When we take on the mitzvah of emuna, everything in life becomes sweeter. We tangibly feel happier. All of our problems in life are no longer random. We can see the purpose behind it all. Our greatest hardships no longer hurt as much.
As we live a much smoother life with emuna, it is very easy to fall into the train of thought that what is best for us will always feel good. This is often when emuna is elevated from a blessing to a test. The test begins the moment our greatest dreams fail to come true because they are not what is best for us.
Emuna becomes a test the moment we think that our life is perfect just the way it is, and Hashem does something to disrupt it. It’s one thing to lose hope of reaching something we wanted. It’s an entirely larger trial to lose something we have been enjoying for years, or just came to peace with.
How do we strengthen, or even maintain our emuna when we realize that what is truly best for us is to drop everything we’ve always wanted? How do we keep our heads above water once we’ve lost all we ever had?
We confess. And we realize that Hashem knows what's better for us than what we know ourselves.
The Ramchal teaches us in The Path of the Just that the heart does not always inspire us to action. Sometimes we have to act first, and the rest will follow. If we were to tell Hashem every day that we choose to nullify all of our hopes and dreams in favor of what He deems best for us, we are softening the hardest organ in the human body. We are transforming our heart. We are destroying and rebuilding our entire being for Hashem.
We are expressing emuna on a completely new level. We are telling G-d that we no longer serve Him for a reward. We are no longer praying, engaging in personal prayer, giving charity, performing acts of kindness for our sake.
We are telling G-d that we now act for Him and Him alone. This is Graduate-level emuna...
We are confessing to G-d that even if He doesn’t grant us sufficient livelihood from what we think we need, that’s fine. If the house we’ve always wanted will never be ours, we'll rent in the meanwhile, or find something we can afford. At any rate, we'll make do with whatever Hashem gives us, and be happy about it too. This too is Graduate-level emuna...
These are the most difficult tests we face in life. Nobody said emuna is easy, but everybody says it’s essential. Our exertions are redeeming mankind. With strengthened emuna - not the fair-weather type - we are partnering with Moshiach ben David in making the final repairs to the earth before all mankind is elevated to unprecedented heights of joy and holiness.
Even after conceding our dearest hopes, in turning to G-d, we find He can grant them anyway. He may simply be taking away our comfort zone for the sole purpose of that one moment when we truly say in our hearts we will sacrifice our most important things in life for Him.
We need to have great emuna in our Father that He sees what we don’t and knows what’s best for us better than we do. This emuna alone has the energy to usher in an era where dreams come true that are far greater than any reality we could have imagined.
* * *
Dovber Halevi is the author of Sex, Religion, and the Middle East, a book about personal holiness and happiness. He lives in Israel with his wife and three children.

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