May 19, 2024
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Filling your day with trust and reliance on Hashem.

Highlighting: “Beis Halevi on Bitachon” by Rabbi David Sutton. Mesorah Publications Ltd. 2020. English. Hardcover. 216 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1422627211.

Bitachon—knowing that you can fully rely on Hashem, and only on Hashem—is an essential part of our Chovos HaLevavos, our “service of the heart.” It is the wondrous gift that enables us to enjoy the blessing of “menuchas hanefesh”—a hard-to-define concept that includes serenity, tranquility, and peace of mind.

Rabbi David Sutton, author of many important works including Beis HaLevi on Bitachon and Embrace Shabbos, shares with us more than 130 chapters, designed for the consistent daily use that enables truly effective change. Drawn from the classic wisdom of the Chovos HaLevavos Shaar HaBitachon, these insights into this “service of the heart” are remarkably contemporary, speaking to our own challenges. Each chapter ends with a practical takeaway, ensuring that we incorporate bitachon into our everyday encounters. And of course, Rabbi Sutton shares stories that show us the amazing power of bitachon.

In this new book, we will learn how to reframe our thoughts. We will explore Hashgacha Pratis. We will see how to properly balance hishtadlus, human effort, with bitachon in Hashem, and how to strengthen our connection to Hashem both in good times and hard ones.

Fitness experts say that to keep your heart strong and healthy, you need to do a cardio workout. And you need to do it regularly and consistently. It’s the same with bitachon: To keep your “service of the heart” strong and healthy, you need a daily workout. And that’s what this book gives you: A cardio workout of the spirit!

 

Reframing—Same Picture, Different Focus

When our life is running well and we’re achieving our goals, Rabbi Sutton explains, bitachon isn’t much of a challenge. We have little difficulty believing that Hashem loves us. The confusion seeps in when troubles drop into our lives uninvited, unexpected, and seemingly undeserved.

The Chovos HaLevavos concedes that many things happen in life that don’t appear to be good. Our response to these occurrences determines whether the challenge will strengthen our bitachon or wear it down. By changing our focus—reframing the picture—we shed our fear or resentment and perceive that what has occurred is good. It is not a sign of Hashem’s rejection but, rather, of His love.

The Chovos HaLevavos illustrates this concept with one of the most touching interactions a person can witness—a new mother bathing her infant for the first time. The mother pours all her love and care into preparing the bath, ensuring that it is just the right temperature. She nervously, carefully lowers her baby into the water and uses the gentlest soap to clean him. The baby reacts by flailing and screaming. He doesn’t have the capacity to know that the bath is good for him and that it is being given with boundless love. He doesn’t like how it feels, and that’s all that matters to him.

This scene, says the Chovos HaLevavos, is the paradigm by which we can reframe the disturbing occurrences in our lives: “We can… see God as our parent Who loves us most in the world.”

Using this idea to reframe events in our life is a key to imbuing our everyday life with bitachon, as this story illustrates:

It was a busy night for a certain community rabbi. He had attended a wedding and a few other events, and by the time he finally got to sleep, it was well past midnight. At around 3 a.m., he was awakened by a phone call from Hatzalah.

They were with an at-risk teen who needed to be transported to an emergency room, but the boy was refusing to get into the ambulance unless this rabbi would accompany him.

The rabbi was very tired and asked the volunteers to tell the teen that he’d meet him in the hospital the next morning. The patient refused to go without the rabbi, and Hatzalah said they were in his driveway, waiting. Reluctantly, the rabbi got up, dressed, and went into the ambulance, wondering along the way, “Why is this happening? Why can’t I just get some sleep? Why is Hashem doing this?”

Then he caught himself and reframed: “If it was decreed in Heaven that I should have to go to the hospital in an ambulance in the middle of the night, it’s better to go as the support person and not as the patient!”

It all depends on how you look at it. This rabbi chose to see things differently, and in doing so, he spared himself hours of frustration and resentment.

This is an outlook anyone can develop. We can learn it for ourselves and at the same time teach it to our children, as an invaluable tool for life, as the grandfather in the following story did:

Recently, a member of our congregation brought his 8-year-old grandson with him to shul on Shabbos. The little boy heard my speech, in which I mentioned reframing. On their way home from shul, the boy asked his grandfather what reframing meant.

The wise grandfather asked the boy, “Do you like it when it rains?”

The boy replied that he didn’t, because the rain ruins his plans to play outside. The grandfather then asked the boy to think of something positive about the rain. The boy answered that the rain waters the flowers and causes the fruits and vegetables to grow.

“That’s reframing,” said the grandfather.

The boy’s eyes lit up. He got it. He understood.

Reframing is easy to learn. Even a child can master this life-altering skill.

And this new book can help us get there, showing us the amazing power of bitachon, and how filling our day with trust and reliance on Hashem can transform our lives.

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