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A Revered Classic in a Unique, Concise Format

Highlighting: “Kitzur Shaar HaBitachon – The Concise Shaar HaBitachon of Chovos HaLevavos.” ArtScroll Mesorah Publications. 2020. Hardcover. 312 pages. Hebrew/English. ISBN #: 9781422627280.

(Courtesy of Artscroll) Written almost a thousand years ago, “Chovos HaLevavos” is a revered classic, learned by every generation since. First published in the middle of the eleventh century, “Chovos HaLevavos” is the oldest, and still among the most intensely studied, of all the mussar classics. Its combination of penetrating logic and emotional fervor has made it a preeminent road to achieving perfect faith and trust in Hashem.

“Shaar HaBitachon,” the fourth section of “Chovos HaLevavos,” has been effective in giving strength and encouragement to people facing difficult and challenging situations in everyday life. It is easy to become despondent when trapped in circumstances from which there seems to be no escape. Only Hashem knows how many people across many countries and many eras have found comfort and encouragement through their study of “Shaar HaBitachon.”

As vital as “Shaar HaBitachon” is to understanding and living our lives, not every reader can explore each nuance. A new special kitzur, concise, edition published by ArtScroll/Mesorah is designed for readers who want to absorb the wisdom of “Shaar HaBitachon,” but are not yet prepared to learn it in its entirety, as well as those who wish for a concise review.

Rabbi Eliyahu Meir Klugman is a veteran senior editor of many important ArtScroll works. He has taught “Shaar HaBitachon” for many years to people on various levels of knowledge and observance. In this new work, “Kitzur Shaar HaBitachon,” he abridges “Shaar HaBitachon” using the words from “Chovos HaLevavos.” The English translation and elucidation and many explanatory notes and insights are taken from the bestselling Jaffa edition of the “Shaar HaBitachon,” and much of the seeming repetition and complexity, and many lesser-known verses used in citations, have been omitted.

Not long after the publication of “Chovos HaLevavos,” two abridged formats, kitzurim, appeared, so as to facilitate rapid study and review of its themes and ideas. R’ Asher of Luneil’s version included a schedule for its completion on a weekly basis, whereas the kitzur authored by R’ Menachem ben Zarach envisioned a full review over the Ten Days of Repentance. In line with these ancient precedents, ArtScroll has produced this new concise edition of the “Shaar HaBitachon.”

For the contemporary English-speaking reader, this concise edition is perhaps the most accessible, understandable and helpful guide to emunah and bitachon in existence.

The following is a brief excerpt from the new volume, focusing on the difference between emunah and bitachon.

“Shaar HaBitachon”discusses the fundamental concept of bitachon in Hashem; that is, placing one’s trust in Hashem and relying on His providential management of one’s affairs.

The term bitachon is often translated as trust. However, bitachon means more than mere trust or faith. It means reliance on Hashem — recognizing one’s utter dependence upon Hashem and completely placing faith in Him, so that one securely and confidently relies on Him to fulfill one’s every need. In fact, after studying the words of “Chovos HaLevavos” in “Shaar HaBitachon,” one realizes that there is no single English word that can fully capture the profound meaning of bitachon. In this work, we use both trust and reliance, interchangeably, as translations of bitachon. These are the most convenient English terms, but in all cases the reference is to a deep, profound level of trust and security that manifests itself in relying on Hashem completely in every aspect of life.

David HaMelech expressed this concept in the verse (Tehillim 55:23): “Hashleich al Hashem yehavcha vehu yechalkilecha, Cast upon Hashem your burden and He will sustain you.”

The Relationship Between Emunah and Bitachon

Emunah (faith or belief) and bitachon (trust or reliance) are closely related ideas, but emunah is conceptual, whereas bitachon is practical. A person with emunah knows in his mind and believes in his heart that Hashem can provide for all his needs, but has not necessarily applied that faith in actual practice. A person with bitachon, however, leads his life in accordance with the knowledge and belief that Hashem provides for him. When facing a crisis, the person with true bitachon will not resort to desperate measures to save himself, nor will he take steps that are unbefitting him. Rather, he will deal with the situation in a way that reflects his conviction that only Hashem can help him, and any measures he takes toward resolving the crisis will be consistent with that attitude (Chazon Ish, “Emunah U’Vitachon” 2:2). The same applies with regard to the effort one invests in obtaining his income. As the “Chovos HaLevavos” explains in “Shaar HaBitachon,” the person with bitachon will seek his income in ways that demonstrate his conviction that he will ultimately receive no more and no less than what Hashem has ordained for him.

The Ramban, in addressing the relationship between emunah and bitachon (“HaEmunah VeHaBitachon,” Ch. 1), explains that bitachon is an outgrowth of emunah: that emunah (faith) is like a tree, and bitachon (reliance) is like the fruit that the tree produces. Emunah can exist without bitachon, but bitachon cannot exist without emunah, for it is emunah that gives birth to bitachon. Recognizing and believing that Hashem controls all events enables one to actually rely on Hashem to fulfill one’s needs, whether in moments of crisis or periods of tranquility.

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