Have a Little Faith

A few years ago, a very special rav came to my community to speak on the topic of “emuna,” simply, a faith that transcends logic and reason and serves as an innate conviction in a Gd whose love and power guides every aspect of our lives. After his powerful speech, I asked him to sign a few books for me, specifically one for me and one for my husband. When I mentioned my husband to him, he looked up at me thoughtfully and asked if I had any children. I told him that I had one son and very matter-of-factly, he said, “and another on the way.” I laughed and went home and wished my husband a hearty “mazal tov” (congratulations) on our pretend baby. Sure enough, a few weeks later, I started to feel a little “off,” but the pregnancy test read negative so I didn’t think anything of it. Shortly thereafter, I heard the devastating news that a friend, a young mother of two, was unexpectedly diagnosed with stage four cancer. When I head this news, my immediate and strong intuition was that I really must be pregnant because it’s not possible that Hashem would put something so terrible in this world without also bringing something good as well.

So many times, something tragic happens and immediately people start looking for the lessons we should take from it. After the recent disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, a story circulated about a man who did not take that flight due to the conflict with Shabbat and thus his life was spared. Most comments on social media seemed satisfied with this account, relieved that what we have been practicing for lifetimes was vindicated by this one spared soul. Why would this even be a question? Why do we wait for moments of verification when we are commanded to “know” that Hashem is true? Simply, because knowing, truly knowing is extremely difficult.

In Tehillim (psalms), we read “l’hagid baboker chasdecha ve’emunatcha baleilot” “to tell your kindness in the morning and your faith at night.” It is so easy to see beauty and kindness in the world when the sun is shining and birds are chirping. When things are going our way, we can thank Gd and mean it fully and know that this really is the will of Gd. In the darkness though, it is not as easy. Reb Shlomo Carlebach says that the Alexandrer rebbe explained (from the Warsaw ghetto) that this pasuk does not read “emunati,” “my belief in you,” but rather “emunatecha,” Your emuna, Gd’s emuna. is what truly brings us through the dark (and the bright) times.

We are taught from a very young age that Hashem is everywhere, the birds, the sky, even in ourselves. We are taught that we have been created in the image of the One who created us. When one’s “inution,” the voice in one’s head, gut instinct, bina, etc. speaks so clearly on a particular topic, although it seems incredible to admit it, this could be the voice of Gd Himself speaking from within us, guiding us toward our own unique, individual “dawn.”

I can not pretend to know the answer to any question that begins with “why does Gd…” but I do believe the following to be true. When one is affected by an event in life, whether tragedy or simcha (happy occasion), there is importance in taking a message from it, or, perhaps, the event happened in vain. The personal impact of an occurrence may not be the universal significance of it, but for an individual, this message may be the only relevant purpose.

About the Author
Amanda is a student at Yeshivat Maharat where she is pursuing rabbinic ordination. She is a proud citizen of Israel, resident of the Chicagoland area, mother, and breast cancer survivor. Amanda is passionate about the Jewish future and the inclusion of female spiritual leaders as role models.