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‘Living Emunah Volume 6’: Achieving a Life of Serenity Through Faith

Highlighting: “Living Emunah, Volume 6” by Rabbi David Ashear. Mesorah Publications Ltd. 2022. English. Hardcover. 292 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1422630235.

(Courtesy of Artscroll) Why have literally hundreds of thousands of people made the Living Emunah series an important—and beloved—part of their lives? Is it the serenity that they feel when they read stories of Hashem’s infinite chesed to His People? Is it the hope that envelops them when they learn to truly feel that Hashem is watching over them? Is it the strength it gives them to face their challenges with patience and faith?

Yes, the extraordinary success of the Living Emunah series—with more than 300,000 copies in print—is due to all those reasons, and more. For its many readers have discovered that when they “live emunah,” their lives are enriched, their relationships are improved and, most important, their connection to Hashem is incomparably strengthened.

And there are the stories. So many stories. The businessman who went from needing charity funds for his family’s food to giving out thousands of dollars to the poor—in less than a year. The rabbi who went to the “wrong” hospital—at exactly the “right time.” The family that chose the path of emunah and gratitude and saw what could have been a disastrous weekend turn into a wonderful and memorable vacation.

When we “live emunah,” problems turn into challenges, challenges morph into opportunities, and opportunities become the foundation for lives of joy and tranquility.

  • • • • •

We all experience times when we naturally feel sad and want to complain. We want Hashem to have mercy on us, so we cry and hope that He will see our pain and bring us salvation. Rav Simcha Bunim of Peshischa taught that it would be more effective to overcome the inclination to be sad and rather pray to Hashem with happiness, thanking Him for the past and hoping for the future.

The Sfas Emes wrote in a letter of chizuk: “The more you can hold yourself back from crying and being in anguish, and instead place your hope in Hashem, the faster your salvation will come.”

Hashem knows when someone is in pain. He knows when someone feels like crying. If at that time the individual can contemplate his blessings, recognize Hashem’s ability to help him in the future, and pray with a positive attitude, it would help him even more than tears. Of course, a person can cry to Hashem if the tears will help him connect better. But the crying should never be from complaining, just as an emotion that will help him connect.

Rabbi Yaakov Galinsky related that he was once incarcerated in a jail cell in Russia for 72 hours, among many other people who were all sentenced to death. Everyone else was depressed and crying, but Rabbi Galinsky learned and prayed as usual. Nobody else had an appetite, but he ate as usual.

He explained later, “I knew that crying would not help the situation. I decided to live what might have been my final hours the way Hashem wants me to live them: To learn. To pray. To eat. To live like a Jew with emunah, who never gives up hope, even when there’s a sharp sword at his neck. And it was with that attitude that, baruch Hashem, Hashem helped me be saved.”

Hashem knows our feelings. He knows when it is difficult for us. If we could manage to continue living happily the way He wants us to live, and pray with the joyous knowledge that we have Him available to us and He can help us in an instant, that will give us great merits and, b’ezras Hashem, bring us yeshuos.

• • • •

People need yeshuos and are willing to travel long distances and spend huge sums to obtain them. Being able to overlook what people do to us—recognizing that it is from Hashem and is meant for our best and completely forgiving them—is a great segulah to open the door for yeshuos.

Rabbi Elimelech Biderman told the story of a Jew from Bnei Brak named Rav Yaakov who traveled yearly to America for the Yamim Noraim to be a chazan in a shul. One of the congregants there, whom we’ll call Ephraim, had two older sons who were still unmarried.

Every year he would purchase the honor of opening the aron kodesh for Neilah as a zechus for his sons to find their respective zivugim. The three of them would stand by the aron throughout Neilah and cry heartfelt tears to Hashem to send them a yeshua. They needed extra

Heavenly help, as these young men had their share of issues which were, b’derech hateva, preventing them from getting married.

One year, Ephraim got into a confrontation with the gabbai of the shul. The gabbai was extremely angry and wanted to get back at him. On one of the days preceding Rosh Hashanah, when Ephraim was not in shul, the gabbai announced that he would be taking bids on the kibbudim for the Yamim Noraim in advance. Someone bid on the honor of opening the aron kodesh for Neilah, and the gabbai sold it to him. His sole purpose for initiating early bidding was to hurt Ephraim by selling pesicha for Neilah to someone else, and he succeeded in doing so.

The time came to open the aron for Neilah, and Rav Yaakov, the chazan, watched to see Ephraim’s reaction when someone else opened the aron. As he feared, Ephraim was burning with anger. When Yom Kippur was over and everyone had broken their fast, Rav Yaakov went over to Ephraim’s house and spoke to him for nearly two hours, trying to appease him and convince him to forgive the gabbai for his actions. Ephraim was so bitter that he could not hear anything Rav Yaakov was trying to tell him. At the end of the conversation, Rav Yaakov said, “Look, you have been buying pesicha for years and your sons are still not married. Maybe you should try a new segulah. Accepting that what happened was from Hashem and forgiving the gabbai completely for what he did would be a great segulah.”

Ephraim considered Rav Yaakov’s words carefully and finally agreed to forgive the gabbai. He released his built-up tension and hatred and worked on himself to truly forgive him.

The following year, in the summertime, a man from the American shul’s office called Rav Yaakov in Bnei Brak, as he always did, to confirm that he would be returning for the Yamim Noraim. While he was on the phone, Rav Yaakov asked him about Ephraim.

“Oh, didn’t you hear?” the man replied. “This past winter, both of his sons were married.”

Accepting what people do to us as coming from Hashem, thanking Hashem for the kappara that it brought and forgiving the individual is such a powerful avodah. It will bring us glory in the future and it opens the doors for yeshua now.

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