Emunah, Bitachon and Middos

The book of Shemos is about seeing the miraculous in the mundane, as the famous Ramban notes that the theme of hashgacha pratit is learned from the miracles in Egypt. The Rambam’s first principle of faith also deals with this phenomenon, saying one must have to have emunah that G-d created everything and second, bitachon, to trust that G-d is the overseer of the world, involved in every detail of our human existence. 

These two guiding principles: emunah and bitachon are the keys to fixing middos, to which the Vilna Gaon says is our sole purpose in the world.

Shlomo beautifully encapsulated the core idea of trusting in G-d with his deeply poetic words, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely upon your understanding” (Mishlei 3:5).

Man’s reliance upon his own wisdom has jeopardized our nation from the beginning of time until the present. (According to one opinion, Adam calculated that by eating from the Tree of Knowledge, he would come closer to G-d. We find logical considerations adapted by the episode of the eigel, Korach and the adoption of sinas chinam, with a strong likelihood that it was justified based on human trappings).

When one fully trusts in G-d, there is an acknowledgement that only G-d has the power to effect change and that every detail in one’s life is being overseen by the Creator of the world.

The son of the Rambam emphasized that every person is exactly where they are supposed to be. This heightens the notion that our lives are connected to G-d on a moment-to-moment basis and that no other human being has the ability to affect our lot.

When investigating jealousy, another phenomenon that has caused major destruction in our history, it is emunah and bitachon that negate its power. A Rav gives an analogy into the fallacious nature of jealousy. Let's say one has a size 5 foot. He then becomes jealous of someone with a size 9. It makes no sense. A size 5 foot "doesn't fit" into a size 9. If this person wore a size 9, they would trip, fall, and get injured.

It's the same with us. We have tailored strengths that are only suited for us. If we had that which was allotted to others, we wouldn't function properly. It's not about big or small or great or not great, it's about what fits us and what we can handle to strive in the way that's best for us. 

This is what David said (Psalms 118:6), “The Lord is for me; I shall not fear. What can man do to me?” The idea is every person has exactly what is suited for them and therefore there’s no need to fear that others might steal your talents or that you need to steal others' talents.

Also, anxiety and worry become negated with strong bitachon, as G-d has given us what we need to excel. When one looks at the root of the word simcha, he finds mocheh – wipe out. Simcha occurs when you wipe away your self-ego and believe that everything is exactly as it’s supposed to be.

Rabbi Yaakov Harrari develops this notion of the development of man based on his middos based on the writings of Rav Yisroel Salanter. If you investigate anger, it’s rooted in the fact that one’s upset that his will is not being met. This contradicts the tenets of bitachon, for one’s will is irrelevant in relation to what G-d’s desire is for the situation. The anger exhibits an arrogance, indicative of the belief in self-power.

Another example would be a man of authority who needs his will adapted by others. He rejects bitachon. If his will isn’t met, he becomes despondent. This is a situation where this person is not mevatel himself to what G-d desires, as he raises himself to believe he is the cause of change with abhorrent middos.

Considering that one can rely on the principles of emunah and bitachon to be metaken middos, it’s worthy to always have a specific verse in mind enunciated by Dovid. The verse proclaims (Psalms 116:10), “I believed so that I spoke; I humble myself exceedingly.” Permeate in the mind the words, “I believed that I spoke,” to instruct that one must always be talking about emunah, as it leads to the path of tikkun ha-middos

The miracles of Egypt propel the notions of hashgacha pratit that can serve as a model to purify our middos.