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Rabbi David Ashear Provides Glimpse Into ‘Living Emunah’

(Courtesy of Artscroll) With 200,000 copies in print, the “Living Emunah” series has taken so many of us on a wondrous journey towards spiritual growth, serenity, tranquility, and strength.

On a journey to emunah.

Emunah—faith in Hashem, in His goodness and His Providence—is what enables us to truly appreciate our blessings in good times, and to deal with difficulties and obstacles in times of challenge.

With its stories of emunah, its Torah insights and clear, practical suggestions, “Living Emunah 5,” like its predecessors, shows us how to move our faith from our minds to our hearts—and to our everyday lives.

What is unique about this newest volume in this series?

“This volume was written in the shadow of one of the modern world’s greatest challenges—the COVID-19 pandemic that took so many lives and put millions of people into a frightening lockdown,” explains Rabbi David Ashear. “I included a special section on dealing with that, showing us how the power of emunah can support and guide us, even in these dark times when we feel utterly powerless.”

Rabbi Ashear’s goal is not just to share stories, but to have emunah become part of who we are.

“The idea is not just to know the lessons,” he explains, “but to ingrain emunah inside of you until it becomes part of you and you can live it.”

“Living Emunah” is based on Rabbi Ashear’s 4-minute “Daily Emunah” presentations that are read and heard by many thousands every day.

“Every single day, I pray that Hashem give me the material that I need. And every day, I try to incorporate a story. Stories hit people strongly. Someone once told me, ‘Your stories can’t be true because they fit the lesson so well.’ I said that it doesn’t work that way. I first find the story and then I formulate the lesson to bring out the story. Baruch Hashem, many of my listeners and readers send in their personal stories.”

Every day, Rabbi Ashear devotes two to three hours of preparation time to putting a short lesson down on paper. It is those lessons that ultimately form his best-selling books, which have been embraced the world over.

A native of Deal, New Jersey, Rabbi Ashear was, in his words, “a regular Syrian kid” growing up. After completing high school in Deal, he continued his Torah studies at Yeshiva Mikdash Melech in Yerushalayim and at Yeshiva Mikdash Melech in Brooklyn. He then joined Rav Shlomo Diamond’s kollel in Deal, studying Gemara, Halacha and other topics, but not necessarily emunah.

In explaining how he first became interested in the topic of emunah, Rabbi Ashear makes an admission.

“As a teenager, I was a very big worrier. I was always nervous: How am I going to make a living? How am I going to make money? How am I going to get married? How am I going to support a family?”

At one point, he received tapes of shiurim on Sha’ar HaBitachon delivered by Rav Ephraim Wachsman.

“It was oxygen for me. I said: Wow. How do you live without this? Hashem is with you every second? Everything that happens in your life is Hashem? It’s not on you? There are no worries? I fell in love with it. I listened to that series again and again and I wrote down every word of it. I kept going over it. I said: You can’t live life without it. It’s impossible.”

Rabbi Ashear decided to share this discovery with people and began delivering a 15-minute daily lecture on the topic at the half-day yeshiva where he was teaching at the time.

Everyone had the same reaction: “This is unreal! It’s unbelievable. My life has changed.”

Those lectures morphed into a “Daily Emunah” email, and ultimately the “Living Emunah” series.

After five books, should fans of Rabbi Ashear be concerned that he’s running out of ideas?

He laughs.

“People ask me that all the time: ‘How do you get stories every day? Aren’t you running out of material?’ The answer is that I don’t do it. I ask Hashem: People need chizuk. People need emunah. If Hashem decides to provide a story, then I say, ‘Thank You, Hashem.’”

Emunah is endless, he says. And it keeps developing.

“There are always new problems. New issues. And new reasons to thank Hashem. In his nineties, Rav Yechezkel Levenstein said that he’s still growing in emunah. There’s no end to this topic. The material—like the Torah itself—is endless.”

Emunah is a topic that resonates in today’s times.

“Our rabbis tell us that at the end of time, one of the great middot we’re going to need to get through all the struggles is emunah. Emunah talks to everybody because everybody needs Hashem, whether it’s in learning or in parnassah, whether you’re Ashkenazi or Sephardi. Emunah is the study of how Hashem relates to us—and how we relate to Hashem. Who doesn’t need that? So it doesn’t matter who you are. It’s a necessary component of everyone’s lives.”

The reaction of readers is universal.

“People always say: ‘It’s talking to me,’” says Rabbi Ashear. “The nature of emunah is that it can talk to a thousand different problems. It’s a cure-all. It’s a simple reminder that Hashem is holding our hand.”

We asked Rabbi Ashear for one inspiring emunah message.

“The most important message of emunah is that each person in this world is given a unique purpose. You come down to this world for a reason. It’s not about this world. It’s about fulfilling your purpose. It’s not about getting what we want all the time or getting what we feel we should have. Hashem is interested in your future, in your eternity, running every aspect of your life with that in mind. He wants you to be happy.”

No matter the moment, no matter the time, “Living Emunah” will provide the ingredients to living a life of serenity through faith.

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