|The Torah Connection Eikev: The Righteousness of Your Heart|
|Written by Rabbi Yaakov Shlomo Weinberg|
“Do not say in your heart … Because of my righteousness did Hashem bring me to possess this land. It was not because of your righteousness and the uprightness of your heart that you are coming to possess their (the nation’s) land … [but rather] to establish the word that Hashem swore to your forefathers … And you should know that [it is] not because of your righteousness … for you are a stiff-necked people.”
Downer or Upper
For many years I had looked at the above as a “downer” – Yisroel was not worthy to the effect that the Torah makes a special point of it. In actuality it is the king of the “uppers.” People ask how can we, in this generation which lacks so much, hope for Moshiach? The answer is that we never merited, both on a national level or on an individual level. That is why the Torah makes a special point of it. Hashem’s chesed (kindness) is just that – chesed. One is never worthy of chesed. If he were worthy it would be din, not chesed. True, we endeavor constantly to merit, as much as we can, through din in order that we alleviate as much as possible the aspect of nahamoh dekisufoh (shamed bread), getting something for nothing.
However, that which we do not achieve through din comes to us through chesed.
The Rabeinu Yonah
Why is that? Why can we not be zocheh (merit) completely through din? The answer is we can, and the way of doing so is to have bitachon (trust) in Hashem’s chesed. See the Rabeinu Yonah,
“Bitachon requires to truly trust in Hashem’s rachamim (mercy) which are many and rov chasodov (His many kindnesses)
… one should strengthen himself and have true bitachon in these ‘traits’ of Hashem … even if one’s sins are many and great, one should have bitachon in Hashem. ‘Yacheil Yisroel el Hashem (Let Yisroel hope to Hashem)’
even if his sins are higher than his head. ‘V’hu yifdeh es Yisroel mikol avonosav (he will redeem Yisroel from all his sins) …’ Hashem’s chesed is greater than any sin and He has rachamim on all who humble themselves before Him and beseech His rachamim … and know that this madreigah (level) of bitachon is tremendously lofty.”
See the Gra,
“One beseeches Hashem that He should help him for the sake of His rachamim and chesed as it says,
‘Ad heinah azarunu rachamecha … until now Your mercy has helped us and Your kindness has not forsaken us. Do not abandon us Hashem … forever.’ That is to say that that which You have helped us until now is because of Your rachamim and not because we deserved it. And that which You have not left us is because of Your kindness. Therefore, we are confident that You will not abandon us forever. For if it would have been due to our merits we should have to worry because of shema yigrom hachait (perhaps a sin that was done will cause a change to happen). However, since it is because of Your chesed we are not at all afraid because Your chesed exists constantly.
Hinei Kail Yeshu’asi
“This is the meaning of the pasuk, ‘Hinei Kail yeshu’asi evtach v’lo efchad
(Behold! Hashem is my salvation I shall trust and not fear).’ The name ‘Kail’ is the attribute of chesed. When this attribute is my salvation, I will constantly have bitachon and not be afraid, even from the possibility of shema yigrom hachait.”
How to Learn the Gra
I’m not quite sure how to learn the Gra. Is the Gra only speaking regarding “shema yigrom hachait”? This means that even if a person is a tzadik, he may still be concerned that perhaps – the word shema means perhaps – he has done a chait unwittingly or perhaps has forgotten? Regarding this the Gra says that a person should not allow this to hinder his bitachon. As Rav Elchonon Wasserman says,
because if so one could never have bitachon. Or is the Gra speaking also as the Rabeinu Yonah does, that even if one, indeed, has many chato’im he should still have bitachon in Hashem?
Not to worry about shema yigrom hachait doesn’t mean that a person can do whatever he wants and not worry about the consequences. Nothing could be further from the truth. See the Ramban,
“The pasuk states, ‘Have bitachon in Hashem and do good.’
That is to say even though you know that you have done no good deeds and you recognize yourself as being a rasha (wicked) – despite all this have bitachon in Hashem because He is merciful and will have mercy on you as it says, ‘v’rachamov al kol ma’asov
(His mercies are on all of His works).’ Both the righteous and the wicked.
“And Do Good”
That is to say that even though Hashem is merciful and kind, don’t allow your yetzer (evil inclination) to lull you into thinking that He does not see evil. Rather Hashem holds back His anger if one sins for a certain period of time, but then if the person does not change for the good He will ‘collect’ the punishment due.” The world is not hefker (without control), as Chazal say, “Whoever thinks that sin is irrelevant to Hashem, his life will become irrelevant.”
Be Botei’ach But Then Change
The Ramban then is saying that one can be botei’ach in Hashem even if he is presently a rasha. Nevertheless, he can’t let the situation fester without changing his ways because otherwise sooner or later Hashem will take him to task.
The Baal Haleshem
See the Leshem Sheva V’Achlamah (Ba’al Haleshem),
“Nothing can stand against bitachon.”
However, he states that if one uses bitachon to do whatever he wants so that the bitachon becomes, so to speak, a vehicle to be chotei more and not do teshuvah on the past, then bitachon will not help. This is like the Ramban.
Rav Chaim Vital
To get back to where we started. Since it was not due to our righteousness that we merited Eretz Yisroel in the first place, we can have bitachon that even a dor shekulo chayav (a generation that is completely without merit) can have bitachon to merit Eretz Yisroel and the geulah bimheirah beyameinu (quickly and in our day). This is as Rav Chaim Vital (the main talmid [student] of the Ari z”l) said that we will merit our future salvation through bitachon.
The Question Will Stand
The question still remains. How will this, being botei’ach on Hashem’s chesed, grant us merit through din as we mentioned earlier? I was going to elaborate on this but I thought better of it. First, because of the lack of time to do it justice. Second, I’m not sure that an email is the proper forum for this. Instead I will give some mar’eh mekomos (sources). See the Ba’al Haleshem brought earlier. Also the Ramchal and the Nefesh Hachaim.
1 Ibid 9:4-6
2 Ramchal, Da’as Tevunos simon 18; Derech Hashem, part 1, chp. 2
3 Mishlei 3:26
4 In Modim in Shemoneh Esrei we say even more – “Hatov ki lo chalu (never finished) rachamecha, vehamerachem ki lo samnu (never ended) chasodecha.” “Never finished … never ended …” even if one has sinned. As an aside, I have always wondered – we seem to be mixing apples with oranges. “Tov” it would seem should go with “chasodecha” and “merachem” with “rachamecha”?
5 Psalms 130: 1-8
6 All the above is from the Rabeinu Yonah.
7 Mishlei 25:15
8 In Nishmas Kol Chai, said at Shacharis on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
9 Isaiah 12:2; first pasuk (verse) said at Havdalah after Shabbos.
10 All the above is from the Gra.
11 Koveitz Ma’amorim, Ma’amar Al Bitachon
12 Ha’emunah V’Habitachon chp. 1
13 Psalms 37:3
14 Psalms 145:9
15 Bava Kama 50a
16 Derush Olam Hatohu, part 2, derush 5, onof 4, simon 3-4
17 See Nefesh Hachaim sha’ar 3, simon 12 regarding ain od milvado.
18 He asks why then were so many kedoshim killed? Why didn’t they save themselves through bitachon? He answers that some, like Rabi Akiva, wanted to accept yesurim me’ahavah (out of love) (see Brachos 61b) and like Rabi Elazar ben Shimon (Bava Metzia 84b). Others didn’t want to trouble Hashem – a concept which needs to be understood. And sometimes it was an edict which was necessary to be done (like the Asarah Harugei Malchus). It would seem that that was their question when they asked for three days time. (See Musaf Yom Kippur after the korbanos.) What could they have done in any case? They wanted to know if they could save themselves through bitachon or if it was an edict, which, indeed, it was.
19 Drush B’inyan Hakivui, printed in Otzros Ramchal p. 247
20 Nefesh Hachaim Sha’ar 3 simon 12