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Simcha Groffman

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Chol HaMoed Pesach

The Chag of Emunah

"How's business, Jack?"

"Couldn't be better, Simcha. My store is always full of customers."

"Really, Jack? Please tell me about it."

"I have a fruit and vegetable store. I do not even have to advertise. People flock into my store from the early morning to the late evening. I can barely order enough produce to keep up with the demand. I have a fantastic parnassa (livelihood)."

"That is great, Jack. To what do you attribute your success?"

"If you want to know the truth, Simcha, it's my emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust) in Hashem. I do not work very hard. I just open the store, keep an eye on the workers, and empty the cash register at night. I have a very high level of bitachon. I trust that Hashem will send me parnassa with just minimal exertion on my part. Those people who work hard, or find it necessary to cheat and steal, are just not on my madrayga (spiritual level) of emunah and bitachon."

"Wow, I really envy you Jack. Hashem should continue to bless you."

"Amen, Simcha."

A few days later, Jack is walking to his store. Along the way, he passes a storefront that is being refurbished. A big sign hangs on the front window. "OPENING SOON. MACK'S FRUIT AND VEGETABLE STORE. THE BEST QUALITY AND THE CHEAPEST PRICES."

Jack's heart drops. This new store will be a strong competitor for his business. He worries that he may lose customers. His is afraid of his income going down. Jack begins to get depressed. Then he gets angry.

"What nerve this guy Mack has! I have the only store in this area. I can't allow him to cut into my business. I must take drastic action. However, I must do it secretly. No one must know, or else I will ruin my good name."

And so, Jack files an anonymous complaint with the city hall mercantile department. He hopes that Mack does not have the license to open a store. His plan is foiled, however, because Mack's papers are all in order. He then files a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. He accuses Mack of trying to steal customers. This plan also fails. Mack is an honest businessman. Jack does not give up. He begins circulating anonymous leaflets belittling Mack's produce and his business practices. All this is to no avail. Mack's store flourishes. Finally, Jack goes into the open. He slanders Mack, saying that he has no faith in Hashem. He tells people to shop at his store, because he has true emunah, bitachon, and Yiras Shomayim (fear of Heaven). He then threatens his customers to prevent them from shopping at Mack's. He finally hires thugs to stand outside of Mack's store and harass the customers. He proves to himself and the world that he will stop at nothing to close down Mack's business. The police are called in, and Jack ends up paying a big fine for corrupt business practices. His once good name and his store are ruined.

This story is based on a parable from the Chazon Ish's sefer, Emunah and Bitachon, chapter two. He lays down the basic principle that bitachon is the faith that there are no chance happenings in the world. All events under the sun are decreed by The Almighty. "Chance is not our master." Hashem has no shortage of ways to save us from difficult situations. He can turn everything around in a moment. We must strongly root the truth into our hearts that everything is from Him, whether is appears good in our eyes or not. In this way, we are prepared to accept an unpleasant situation, knowing that it is from Him.

When a person accomplishes this, wonderful things happen. Bitachon has the power to direct a person's actions, heal his pain, and help him recover from the trauma of the event. He can then take the proper action. He does not panic and turn to underhanded practices to foil the plans directed against him. Rather, he realizes that Hashem sent him the tsorus (trouble) because He wants something from him. Therefore, he turns to his heart, and contemplates his deeds. What mistakes did he make that brought this suffering down upon him? He does teshuva on his aveyros (sins), he turns to Hashem in tefillah (prayer), and he has mercy on others by giving tsedaka. In this way, he makes himself fit to receive Divine Mercy. He does minimal physical preparations, all guided by the Torah and Halacha, to allow Hashem to save him.

One who has bitachon does not flaunt it. He walks humbly and modestly with Hashem. His mouth does not voice his bitachon, and his heart bemoans the fact that he lacks shelaymus (perfection) in this area. Jack's "bitachon" was all a fake. He just spoke about it. When he came to a difficult situation, he failed miserably, trusting in no one and stopping at nothing.

We are now in the midst of Pesach, the chag of emunah. During Yetzias Mitzrayim, Hashem showed the whole world that He is the only power, controlling everything in the universe. It was plain for all to see that He directs every event, and nothing happens by chance. Recalling and reliving those wonderful happenings strengthens our emunah and bitachon. Use these days of Pesach to come to new levels of faith and trust in the Almighty.

Kinderlach . . .

Did you eat a delicious meal today? Thank Hashem when you make your blessings. He sent you the tasty food. Did you understand the Mishna that you learned with Abba today? Thank Hashem. He is the One Who favors a man with knowledge and teaches him wisdom. Did you bang your toe when you were walking barefoot? You can also thank Hashem for that. Any suffering, no matter how small, is a tremendous kapara (atonement) for sins. Do you know someone who is sick, poor, or in trouble? They need Hashem's rachmonus (mercy) to get them out of their difficult situation. What is the best way to seek Divine rachmonus? By having mercy on others. What a blessing in disguise! Hashem puts people in a situation where they need rachmonus, in order to help them learn to have rachmonus on others. Their teshuva, tefillah, and tsedaka will strengthen their emunah, bitachon, and their connection to the Creator. They will feel more confident about being saved. They will place their faith in Him, and not in the authorities. Now, during this chag of Pesach, we have a golden opportunity to fortify our emunah before any tsorus comes. Take advantage, kinderlach. Take a big step closer to Hashem.

Kinder Torah Copyright 2008 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman

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