Let him who is convinced that his views are true and right express them . . . at every opportunity . . . without considering how much support or how much opposition he will encounter. Only falsehood is in need of many supporters in order to win the day; falsehood must have the authority of numbers to make up for what it lacks in justification. Truth, by contrast, will always prevail, even if it takes time. Noble, courageous and pure, expressed with all the fiery zeal and conviction and with all clarity of sure awareness, stated again and again at every opportunity, truth will ultimately gain respect and admiration even of those who do not accept it. The only truth that can be lost beyond recall is that truth whose adherents no longer have the courage to speak up candidly on its behalf. Truth has never gone down in defeat as the result of opposition, it has done so only when its friends are too weak to defend it. - R' S.R. Hirsch

Monday, October 19, 2015

My Strength and My Shield

The L-RD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him (Psalm 28:7).

When we recite the Psalms, we are searching for inner strength and the ability to endure in seasons of adversity and the most trying of times.  As he often does, in the middle of this Psalm, David concentrates on the faith and trust he has in Hashem and His greatness.  In Tehillos Maharitz, Rav Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky explains that the bitachon, the trust itself, was a significant part of David's salvation, since his heart remained steadfast and whole despite all the fear he experienced.  "Bo vatach libi," once I have placed my trust in Him, "ne'ezrati," I have already been helped.

R' Chatzkel Levenstein was known for his exceptional fear of Hashem.  Every ounce of his being was permeated with a constant awareness of Hashem.  For this reason, a smile was rarely seen on his lips.  So acutely aware of the One before Whom he stood, he could not afford to let his guard down. 

However, one time, one of his disciples entered his room and saw that a smile was playing on his lips.  Knowing how rare it was to the see the great rabbi in such a state, he mustered up the courage to ask him why he was smiling.   He figured something very good must have happened in the world for his rabbi to be happy. 

Although R' Chatzkel confirmed the notion, it was not at all what the disciple thought.

"Indeed something great happened today in the world, since I am now filled with a little more faith and trust.  And that is why I am happy.  You see, when I served as the rabbi in the Mirrer Yeshiva, there were times when the yeshiva was in such dire financial straits that I did not receive my monthly paycheck.  And that is why I lived, day to day, trusting that tomorrow Hashem would give me food for my family. 

"But when I began serving as the rabbi in Ponvezh, I began receiving a large monthly paycheck.  And because of that, I felt that I was now somewhat lacking in my faith.  But now, thank G-d, eight months have passed since I last received a paycheck from the yeshivah, as it has sustained heavy debts.  And so I feel that once again, my bitachon, my faith, has been strengthened."

David knew that he would face difficult times.  But he was also keenly aware that as long as he held on to his faith, that was reason enough to be thankful.  In other words, the ability to have faith and trust, and the strength that comes with it, is a wonderful gift in and of itself.  David is confident that his prayer has already been answered and derives his confidence from the realization that G-d is on his side and approves of his endeavors.

Therefore he is inspired to sing a joyous hymn praising G-d and the renewed demonstration of His greatness and power in his life.  This song, which serves as an outpouring of bitachon in the midst of direst peril, pays perfect tribute to the understanding and knowledge of G-d. 

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