HOW BITACHON LEADS TO PROPER OBSERVANCE OF MITZVOS
Bitachon Bytes, Yisro
By Rabbi Zalman Goldberg
Chassidus explains that all Mitzvos are the Ratzon-Will of Hashem . As such, it is understood that Mitzvos don’t need to be logical. If they were manmade they would need to be logical, but since Mitzvos stem from a source completely beyond any sphere of understanding, Hashem’s Will, they transcend logic. Nonetheless, Mitzvos do have some reasons and explanations that relate to us, a logic based species. However, it is vital to be aware that these explanations are only auxiliary to what the Mitzvos truly are
Remembering that Mitzvos are G-dly and not necessarily logical is related to Bitachon and exclusive reliance on Hashem. When one’s reliance on Hashem is complete, his perspective on the Mitzvos will play a similar tune. If we view our lives from a worldly perspective, then our view of Mitzvos may be based on our logic, which can in turn affect our observance of Mitzvos. If instead we view life as a G-dly and spiritual experience, Mitzvos will be viewed in a similar manner, i.e. they are Hashem’s will, and their fulfillment will be with kabbalas ol.
To illustrate, let’s explore the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents. From a practical perspective, not necessarily does everyone practice this mitzvah as a G-dly mitzvah all the time. It is important to ponder how we view this mitzvah. Do we consider it to be a rational mitzvah that we fulfill because we owe our parents for all the good they’ve done for us2, or is it a G-dly command to be fulfilled beyond any reason, and that no reason can make the mitzvah more or less compelling to fulfill? The Rebbe3 clearly advocates the latter of these two approaches when discussing which way is the Yiddishe way.
Based on the Ramban4 who writes that the reason for the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents is because the parents partnered with Hashem in the creation, and therefore honoring ones parents is in essence honoring Hashem, it is clear that it is not a rational explanation of repaying good (of the parents) with good (respectful children). The meaning of “partnered in his creation” in the words of the Ramban is not only that Hashem’s partnership as the third partner is crucial (for the parent’s partnership to work), as He provides the neshama, rather it means that even the parents’ input would be ineffective if not for the infinite power of procreation that the parents possess, because of which the generations carry on.
To put it plainly, Hashem is not only a partner, He is a part of the parents’ share of the partnership as well. The Ramban is therefore very well understood to mean that the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents is essentially honoring Hashem. When we look at our parents and realize that they contain the power of creation (so to speak) from Hashem and that is the only thing that made it possible for them to be parents, then the honor we accord them is a G-dly reverence.
Practically, this means that respect to one’s parents should be constant, even when it’s difficult to do so, and even when the parent him/herself makes it challenging to do so5. (This of course does not allow parents to test their child’s devotion to this mitzvah and say, “He has to follow orders and show respect anyway!” as this may place a stumbling block in front of their child and cause him to ח’’ו sin6.)
The Rebbe’s conduct exemplifies the mitzvah of Kibbud Av v’Em. The Rebbe had a practice to never turn his back to his mother. This practice began when he was three years of age. That is the extent to which his respect went. He would make a point that others should not mention to her the hard times in Russia and successfully kept news of his brother’s passing from her. Many methods were necessary to prevent her from finding out about this loss, including continuing to visit even during the Shiva, forging his brother’s periodical letters with making the return address an English one, just so that she should not experience the tremendous pain of losing a son.
Perhaps the most astonishing example of the Rebbe’s kibbud av was when Reb Shmuel Gruzman wanted to take the Rebbe to Lubavitch, to the Rebbe Rashab (the Rebbe was then 15 years old) and the Rebbe had a very strong desire to go. He was standing near his mother when his father expressed a lack of approval of the plan to travel. The Rebbe did not wince or say anything in response, not even a quiet articulation to his mother escaped his lips. These and many other stories about the Rebbe are lessons for us in how to appropriately observe the mitzvah of kibbud av v’em. But how do we implement these lessons into our daily lives? By remembering that the respect is not only for the physical parent of flesh and blood, it is respect for a parent who contains a part of Hashem Himself7.
This is a wonderful message that parents can convey to their children as a matter of fact (and without vanity). If a parent tells a child he must listen because, “I am the parent,” power struggles are sure to ensue and the goal of teaching this mitzvah may not be achieved. If instead the parent says, “Hashem gave us a mitzvah to honor one’s parents, and by honoring one’s parents one honors Hashem Himself (via the כוח הא’’ס in the parent),” the possibility of confrontation is lessened and the objective will certainly be reached.
Great and holy tzaddikim may be born with an innate feeling for this notion, but the rest of us would do well to convey to our children this humility-inducing and bitachon promoting message. We will thus assist our children in having a more G-dly perspective of us and it will hold us to the task of behaving more G-dly, which will ultimately bring to better, more peaceful and happy homes.
Rabbi Zalman Goldberg is a well sought after speaker and lecturer on Chassidic thought. His writings and recordings on the topic of Bitachon can be accessed at http://www.gotbitachon.com.
1) תניא פרק ה’.
2) חינוך מצוה ל’’ג.
3) לקו’’ש חל’’ו ע’ 90 ואילך.
4) בפירושו עה’’ת בפרשתינו כ, י’’ג.
5) קיצור שו’’ע סי’ קמ’’ג סעי’ ב’.
6) שם סעי’ י’’ז.
7) ראה לקו’’ש שם ע’ 94-95.
Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).