Arie E. Pelta

Israel – Where our trust in G-d is tested (Part 1)

Eretz Yisrael is the laboratory to test out and live the concepts elucidated in Chovos HaLevavos. I will demonstrate this idea in the following essays based on the sefer “Duties of the Heart”.

All Israelis are aware that every aspect of our existence is only explained by a miracle. We can see “The Hand of G-d”, in action.  There is no logical explanation for our success and existence.  Our medical establishment seems to work despite poor care. For example, some hospitals here have a three year waiting times for basic surgery, which in USA would be a one day to one week wait.

We thrive on the lie or “Israel-bluff” that the IDF is “the best in the world” and has “the best security”; they can’t prevent theft of weapons and uniforms from their own IDF bases! We all know that our basic army equipment is outdated and from the Vietnam era. Reserve combat units may complete one week annual training; when we all know the minimum requirement should be one month a year.  The IDF claims that they have limited funds.  One third of Israelis pay taxes, one third serve in the IDF, one third or less actually show up for army reserve duty.  The problem is that all of this work is done by the same one third! Our survival is miraculous, even by secular standards.

By trusting in G-d one can achieve tranquility of the soul מנוחת נפש . If one places his trust in man or money, than G-d removes His providence השגחה from him and leaves him in the hands of the forces of nature, blessed is the man who trusts in G-d.

ירמיהו יז:ז

בָּרוּךְ הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר יִבְטַח בַּֽה’, וְהָיָה ה’ מִבְטַחֽוֹ:

Blessed is the man who trusts in Hashem; and Hashem shall be his trust (Yirmiyahu 17:7).

We cannot rely on our government or on the USA to take care of us, cursed is the man who trusts in man.

ירמיהו יז:ה

כֹּה  אָמַר ה’ אָרוּר הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר יִבְטַח בָּֽאָדָם וְשָׂם בָּשָׂר זְרֹעוֹ, וּמִן ה’ יָסוּר לִבּֽוֹ:

So says Hashem: Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart turns away from Hashem (Yirmiyahu 17:5).

We exist and flourish in Israel because G-d wants us to serve Him here. We are not here for monetary gain in order to be “the startup nation” or to be inventors and leaders in the computer industry.  The USA is much better than we are in all fields, and so too are many Asian nations.  If we rely only on our wisdom, ingenuity, Israeli Chutzpa, the perceived physical strength of the IDF and our own efforts, we will labor in vain; our strength will fail and our ingenuity will be inadequate to achieve our goals.  This was learned during the era of the Chanukah story. We notice that many “successful” Israelis leave the country and move to the USA, or sell off their inventions to another country for others to benefit.

If we rely on our wealth, it will be taken from us and left to someone else. Our goal in life is not to work to beget wealth.  Many Israelis are contemplating ways to leave the “Promised Land” and have dreams to live in the comfort and wealth of the USA or Europe.  Mishlei teaches us not to run after money, Do not toil to get wealth…before you can set your eyes on it, is gone.

משלי כג: ד-ה

אַל תִּיגַע לְֽהַעֲשִׁיר, מִֽבִּינָתְךָ חֲדָֽל: הֲתָעִוף הֲתָעִיף עֵינֶיךָ בּוֹ וְֽאֵינֶנּוּ, כִּי עָשֹה יַעֲשֶׂה לּוֹ כְנָפַיִם כְּנֶשֶׁר וָעיּף יָעוּף הַשָּׁמָֽיִם:

Do not weary yourself to grow rich; cease from your own understanding. Should you blink your eyes at it, it is not here; for it will make wings for itself, like the eagle, and it will fly toward the heavens (Mishlei 23:4-5).

G-d gives us work (a job/profession) to keep us from sinning. Hopefully, we will turn to Him and pursue a meaningful life of Torah observance. To the sinner He gives the work of gathering and amassing, to hand over to one who is good before G-d.

קהלת ב: כו

כִּי לְאָדָם שֶׁטּוֹב לְפָנָיו נָתַן חָכְמָה וְדַעַת וְשִׂמְחָה וְלַֽחוֹטֶא נָתַן עִנְיָן לֶֽאֱסֹף וְלִכְנוֹס לָתֵת לְטוֹב לִפְנֵי הָֽאֱלֹקים גַּם זֶה הֶבֶל וּרְעוּת רֽוּחַ:

For to a man who is good in His sight, He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner He has given an occupation to gather and to accumulate, to give to him who is good in G-d’s sight; this too is vanity and frustration (Koheles 2:26).

His wealth may be the cause of his undoing and the loss of his soul. To their credit, the secular kibbutznik Israelis originally rejected material wealth in order to settle and build this country.  Unfortunately, they also rejected G-d and our Torah religion.  Their descendents now are lusting for money, wealth, and because of their material success they are eager to leave Israel. The pursuit of wealth can be evil and harmful to the pursuer.

            קהלת ה:יב

יֵשׁ רָעָה חוֹלָה רָאִיתִי תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ, עֹשֶׁר שָׁמוּר לִבְעָלָיו לְרָֽעָתֽוֹ:

There is a grievous evil that I saw under the sun; riches kept by their owner for his harm (Koheles 5:12).

One who trusts in G-d will not submit to another power ; he will not set his hopes on any man or put his trust in human beings. Their ways will not frighten him and he will not be afraid to oppose them.  When the USA, under the Obama administration, no longer supported Israel, we were not afraid to continue to build up our country.  Iran, Russian, Hezbollah, Syria, the Arabs all continue to taunt us; we are not afraid.  They claim that if we give our G-d given land to them, then we will have peace. But G-d tells us the opposite, do not fear them and do not be intimidated by them!

יחזקאל ג:ט

כְּשָׁמִיר חָזָק מִצֹּר נָתַתִּי מִצְחֶךָ, לֹֽא תִירָא אוֹתָם וְלֹֽא תֵחַת מִפְּנֵיהֶם כִּי בֵּית מְרִי הֵֽמָּה:

As shamir, stronger than flint, I have set your forehead; fear them not, neither shall you be intimidated by them, for they are a rebellious house.” (Yechezkel 3:9).

The real secular Jews are the ones who live in the Diaspora, or those who have chosen to leave Israel. Despite what they say, even the staunch secular Israelis have trust in G-d.  Those who live here, by default, accept upon themselves the yoke of G-d עול מלכות שמים. This must be true; otherwise they would not continue to live here 

He Who Trusts In G-d Has Peace of Mind and Tranquility of Soul

A person who trusts in G-d is able to turn away from worldly concerns and devote himself to service of G-d. One who trusts in G-d is assured of his sustenance by any one of the means available in the world.  Not by bread alone can man live, but rather from anything that comes from G-d.

דברים ח:ג

וַיְעַנְּךָ וַיַּרְעִבך וַיַּֽאֲכִֽלְך אֶת הַמּןָ אֲשֶׁר לֹֽא יָדעְתָּ וְלֹא יָֽדְעוּן אֲבֹתֶיךָ לְמַעַן הוֹדִֽיעֲךָ כִּי לא עַל הַלחֶם לְבַדּו יִֽחְיה הָֽאָדָם כִּי עַל כָּל מוֹצָא פִֽי ה’ יִֽחְיה הָֽאָדָֽם:

And He afflicted you and let you go hungry, and then fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your forefathers know, so that He would make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but rather by, whatever comes forth from the mouth of Hashem does man live (Devarim 8:3).

At no time and in no place are the means for obtaining our parnasa withheld from us. If we sincerely trust in G-d we will lack nothing.

            תהילים לד:י, יא

            יְראוּ אֶתָ ה’ קְדֹשָׁיו כּי אֵין מַחְסוֹר לִֽירֵאָֽיו:… כְּפִירִים רָשׁוּ וְרָעֵבוּ וְדֹֽרְשׁי ה’ לֹֽא יַחְסְרוּ כָל טֽוֹב:

            Fear Hashem, His holy ones; for there is no want to those who fear Him.  Young lions suffer want and are hungry, but those who seek Hashem lack no good   (Tehillim 34:10,11).  

One who trusts in G-d is safe from harm, no evil will befall him. Whatever comes to him brings him joy and gladness; he obtains his parnasa with peace of mind, as written:

תהילים כג:ב

            בִּנְאוֹת דֶּשֶׁא יַרְבִּיצֵנִי עַל מֵי מְנֻחוֹת יְנַֽהֲלֵֽנִי:                        

He makes me lie down in green pastures, He guides me beside calm waters (Tehillim 23:2).

One who trusts in G-d fears no man.

תהילים נו:יב

בֵּֽאלקים בָּטַחְתִּי לֹא אִירָא מַה יַּֽעֲשׂה אָדָם לִֽי:

I trust in G-d, I will not fear, what can man do to me?       (Tehillim 56:12).

He who trusts in G-d is strong in his reliance that G-d will provide his sustenance according to His Will, at whatever time or place He wishes. G-d will not let the righteous go hungry. G-d with never forsake the righteous man nor his children.

            משלי י:ג

            לֹֽא יַרְעיב ה’ נֶפֶשׁ צַדּיק וְהַוַּת רְשָׁעים יֶהְדֹּֽף:

Hashem will not starve the soul of the righteous, but the destruction [wrought by] the wicked will cast [them] down (Mishlei 10:3).

תהילים לז:כה

נַעַר הָיִיתִי גַּם זָקַנְתִּי וְֽלֹא רָאִיתִי צַדִּיק נֶֽעֱזָב וְזַרְעוֹ מְבַקֶּשׁ לָֽחֶם:

I have been young and now am grown old, but I have never seen a righteous man forsaken, or his children begging bread (Tehillim 37:25).

One who trusts in G-d is safe from diseases and illness, unless they are a form of atonement. Those who place their hope in G-d will renew their strength.

            ישעיהו מ:ל-לא

וְיִֽעֲפוּ נְעָרִים וְיִגָעוּ וּבַֽחוּרִים כָּשׁוֹל יִכָּשֵֽׁלוּ: וְקוֵֹי ה’ יַֽחֲלִיפוּ כֹחַ יַֽעֲלוּ אֵבֶר כַּנְּשָׁרִים יָרוּצוּ וְלֹא יִיגָעוּ יֵֽלְכוּ וְלֹא יִיעָֽפוּ:

Now youths shall become tired and weary, and young men shall stumble. But those who put their hope in Hashem shall renew [their] vigor, they shall raise wings as eagles; they shall run and not weary, they shall walk and not tire(Yeshayahu 40:30-31).

When we live under the actual guidance of G-d, we do not feel that our life is lacking and find the need for trivial pursuits.

            תהילים כג:א

מִזְמוֹר לְדָוד ה’ רֹעי לֹא אֶחְסָֽר:

G-d is my Sheppard, I lack nothing (Tehillim 23:1)

He who trusts in G-d is secure in His country of Eretz Yisrael and has peace of mind in His place:

תהילים לז: ג, כט

בְּטַח בה’ וַֽעֲשֵׂה טוֹב שְׁכָן ארֶץ וּרְעֵה אֱמוּנָֽה: צַדִּיקִים יִֽירְשׁוּ אָרֶץ וְיִשְׁכְּנוּ לָעַד עָלֶֽיהָ:

Trust in G-d and do good, dwell in The Land [ Eretz Yisrael], and enjoy steady support . The righteous will inherit The Land (Eretz Yisrael] and abide in it forever (Tehillim 37:3, 29).

If he has no means, he will regard his money as one of G-d’s favors to him. We are given what we need.  The true believers are happy with what we have been given.

            משנה אבות ב:ז

            [הלל אומר…]הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר: מַרְבֶּה בָשָׂר מַרְבֶּה רִמָּה. מַרְבֶּה נְכָסִים, מַרְבֶּה דְאָגָה.

He [Hillel] would say: The more possessions the more worry       (Mishna Avos 2:7).

            משנה אבות ד:א

בֶּן זוֹמָא אוֹמֵר:… אֵיזֶהוּ עָשִׁיר? הַשָּׂמֵחַ בְּחֶלְקוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: (תהלים קכח, ב) יְגִיעַ כַּפֶּיךָ כִּי תֹאכֵל אַשְׁרֶיךָ וְטוֹב לָךְ. אַשְׁרֶיךָ, בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה. וטוֹב לָךְ, לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא

Ben Zoma says: Who is wealthy? He who rejoices in his portion, as it says (Tehillim 128:2) If you eat the toil of your hands, you are praiseworthy, and it is good for you.  You are praiseworthy, in this world. And it is good for you, in the World to Come. (Mishna Avos 4:1).

One who trusts in G-d will have a parnasa, but will be spared the mental distraction of one who has money and constantly worries about it. One who trusts in G-d is not hindered in his trust by his wealth, for he does not rely on his money. He regards his wealthy as a deposit פקדון which he has been commanded to use in certain ways and for certain purpose, for a limited amount of time.  If he loses his money he does not mourn its absence.  Rather he thanks G-d. He rejoices in his portion, and does not covet anyone’s property.

משלי יג:כה

צַדִּיק אֹכֵל לְשֹבַע נַפְשׁוֹ וּבֶטֶן רְשָׁעִים תֶּחְסָֽר:

A righteous man eats to satisfy his appetite, but the stomach of the wicked shall feel want (Mishlei 13:25).

We are happy in Eretz Yisrael. We do not feel the need to go to Chutz LaAretz to amass fleeting wealth or insincere spiritual pursuits. A ben Eretz Yisrael is lacking nothing and happy with what G-d has given us.

About the Author
Arie E. Pelta, M.D., a Board Certified General and Colorectal Surgeon from the USA, made Aliyah with his wife and 7 children in 2013. He received his Rabbinical ordination in 1997. He is also an active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Dr. Pelta is currently a full time Senior Surgeon practicing in Laniado Hospital (Netanya); specializing in the surgical care of all colorectal diseases.
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