After painstakingly defining belief last week, I’m going to toss aside that definition to go a little deeper. So that being said…
Belief! It’s easy enough to say one believes in God. But what does that really mean? God is an old man in the sky, who helps you out time to time but is frustrated you’re not doing what you know you should be doing? How does that belief affect what you do?
For each individual belief is a personal relationship with God. But how far does that relationship go? That’s where Emunah comes along. Emunah isn’t just the belief in God, but the belief that God is involved in every moment of your life and that whatever happens to you is ultimately for the best.
That’s a very difficult place to get to in and of itself. It takes humility to realize one is part of a system, perspective to take a step back and try to see that system, and reflection to try to understand how one fits into that system. Because if God really is running the show, that means everything, EVERYTHING is happening for a reason and has a lesson you can take away.
How does one get Emunah? If you don’t honestly believe in God, the following is going to sound like gobblty gook. But if you do feel you either have a relationship with God or are trying to cultivate one, the following is tremendously powerful.
7 steps to Emunah
1) Know that God loves you. Be real with the understanding that everything happening to you is for your benefit.
2) Know that God is aware of you. Your parents love you. But they don’t know your innermost desires and struggles. God does.
3) Know that God can give you anything you want. If your father was Bill Gates and you wanted a $1000, do you think that would be a problem for him?
4) It’s not up to you to attain what you want. It’s up to God. At first glance I can see why one would find this problematic, but if you are real with the idea that God runs the world, it means your success doesn’t really come from you, it come from God. That doesn’t excuse you from trying though ( a concept known as hishtadlus).
5) Look at how much you already have. God has a track record. You may be wanting in life, but chances are you have more good going for you than bad. Can you walk? Can you see? Do you know where your next meal is coming from? That’s more than some people can say.
6) You don’t have to deserve it. This is a big reason some people don’t pray. They feel like they don’t deserve what they want or need. Well what did you do to deserve the ability to see?
7) God knows what is best. And this of course is the culmination of it all. When you’re real with this, you’ve nailed Emunah.
But what does one look like who lives with Emunah? There’s where Bitachon comes in. If Emunah is the mindset that God runs the world, Bitachon is the actualization of that mindset. That means one’s behavior changes because they are real with Emunah. Some people even translate Bitachon as trust. Granted Bitachon is a major step. But when one lives with the mindset of Emunah and the behavior of Bitachon, it is a game changer. You will see wonders and miracles you won’t believe you didn’t see before.
7 traits of one who lives with Bitachon
1) Has gratitude for everything that happens to them. If one lives with Bitachon, it means everything that happens to them is for the best. Even the bad.
2) Tranquil in the face of trouble. The person doesn’t worry about their problems, they take care of them. If you’re worried about those problems, that means you don’t trust God.
3) Only relies on God, not on their lively hood. If they didn’t get the promotion or the deal didn’t go through, it’s not because it was stolen or they weren’t good enough. It because for whatever reason God didn’t give it to them.
4) Realizes they have more than they need. When a person walks around with the appreciation that they have everything they need (re: God gives us the solution before he gives us the problem.) they have a sense of calm and serenity.
5) Everything they do is to enhance a spiritual need. Their concerns aren’t how they are going to fix their problems for their problems sake, but so they can get closer to God. Sure they need to eat, but is it to be physically satisfied or is it so they can continue to connect to God?
6) Is beloved by everyone. This one was the big one for me. Because someone conducts their life with Bitachon, they quickly establish trust with those around them. It’s understood this individual isn’t out of themselves. Why would anyone steal or sabotage to get ahead when they know their success comes from God?
7) Never gets depressed. Being real with God running the world means that everything that happens is meant to be AND is the best possible outcome for you. With that you have no reason to get down or have doubt.
To recap Belief, Emunah, and Bitachon, I like to use the smoking metaphor. There are plenty of smokers out there who know that smoking is bad. They’ve seen the TV ads, they know their pack of cigarettes have the cancer warning, but they’re not real with it. Belief. Then there are people who have done the research, they know the statistics, they maybe even have lost someone close to them. But they’re still smoking. Emunah. It person who has done the research and knows all the facts finally stops smoking. That’s Bitachon.