1 Iyar 5781 / Tuesday, April 13, 2021 | Torah Reading: Tazria - Metzora
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Emuna, not Worry    

Emuna, not Worry

How can we make sure that we consistently choose emuna, not only when things are going smoothly but even when things are painful and confusing?


Rabbi Elimelech Biederman recounts a story of a Chasid who lived in Warsaw when he was a young man. He once saw an elderly man, a glazier, carrying a very heavy pane of glass. The rabbi offered to help. The old man replied, “Listen young boy, I am over 90, but I'm still strong and I don't need your help. And I'll tell you why I'm so strong. Years ago, I did a favor for Rebbe Bunim of Peshischa. The Rebbe asked me which blessing I desired. I requested the standard, to marry off all my children easily. The Rebbe replied ‘My blessing to you is that you should never worry, because Hashem doesn't give to those who worry. He gives to those who ask.’ That blessing has helped me my entire life. I married off all my children with ease, and without worry. And as you see, I also have strength to work. I attribute it to the blessing I received.”


The glazier is my hero! Ever since I read that story I’ve been including it in my personal prayers and asking Hashem to help me overcome worry like this man did. This reminds me of an article where the author interviewed a group of people aged 90 and above and asked them their secret of longevity. One lady said, “Never worry about anything, pray about everything and always be grateful.”


Rabbi Biederman concludes that we should strive to live without anxiety, and trust in Hashem. This is a guaranteed approach towards earning a living. In Garden of Emuna, Rabbi Shalom Arush says that he has a two-word formula for peace of mind: Hashem provides.


In Garden of Miracles, Rabbi Arush tells a parable of an impoverished family that lived in Odessa. One day there was a knock on the door and the father went to see who was there. He saw four beautiful people at the door and asked who they were. One of them said “I am Happiness; the others are Emuna, Blessing, Good Health, and Wealth.” The owner of the house said, “Welcome to my home; please come in.” Happiness said, “You can only choose one of us. The rest of us won't be able to come in.”


The father consulted with his family and they decided to choose Emuna. When he informed the guests of his choice, he was surprised to see Emuna walking in first and the others also entering his home. He asked Happiness, “What's going on? I thought that only one of you can come in.” Happiness said, “That would have been the case if you had chosen any of the rest of us. However, you chose Emuna and where Emuna goes we always follow.”


How can we make sure that we consistently choose Emuna, not only when things are going smoothly, but even when things are painful and confusing?  I would like to share a couple of techniques I'm currently trying.


Every time I have a worrisome or negative thought, I try to remember to recite Derech Emuna Bacharti (I choose the path of Emuna), Psalm 119:30. Reciting this verse several times stops the downward spiral and makes me feel calmer and stronger.


Whenever I say the blessing Shehakol, which we say frequently when we have a glass of water or eat many assorted foods, I concentrate on the meaning of the blessing. We are blessing Hashem “by Whose word everything comes into being”. After I partake of the drink or food, I ask Hashem to help me remember and internalize that only by His word can anything come into being.


Emuna is related to the Hebrew word that means to practice. By practicing these and other affirmative techniques we can evict worry from our minds and hearts. We must remember that worry is a key tool of the Evil Inclination and the thief of joy and well-being.


Emuna or worry, the choice is ours. May we all choose emuna and may all the other wonderful blessings follow closely behind.

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