As the world has opened up, I find myself thinking about trust – Who can I trust? What information should I listen to? Am I safe to go outside without a mask? Can I safely be in large groups? Can I trust that others are taking safety precautions? I am sure you’re wondering the same thing too. I must admit that all this wondering is perplexing and exhausting.
When in doubt, I always go back to my Mussar learnings and readings. Alan Morinis discusses in 'Everyday Holiness' that no one likes to live with anxiety or worry, as life is a “difficult, daunting struggle.” When trust runs strong, life is more manageable. But, how does one trust when life is fraught with so many unknowns and post-truths or “alternative facts”? The onslaught of opinions on social media and 24-hour news streaming, which is often contentious and scary, can leave one with feelings of uncertainty and worry.
“The truth is that when we no longer know what to believe, there is an erosion of trust and the result is that a free society cannot function in the absence of trust,” stated Rabbi Sachs (z”l) in a 2017 article titled, ‘Post-Truth and the Erosion of Trust.’ He contends that we should re-establish the moral basis of Western civilization – a combination of Judeo-Christian heritage and enlightened values – until we recover the ideals of honesty and honor in public life.
Morinis further clarifies that bitachon is really trust in G-d and nothing happens by chance. Trust stands on the foundation of faith. Bitachon is often used interchangeably with emunah (faith). Thus, we should place the burden of one’s concerns and worries on G-d and trust that things will work out. “It is better to trust in G-d than to trust in any man.” (Psalms 118:9) He talks about trust being based on acceptance, not expecting that everything will turn out as one would like.
We accept what happens because we understand that there is a reason and order to the world. Basically, we accept what life has in store even if it is not understood at the moment.
It was good to remind myself of this. Today, more than ever, with the divisiveness in our country, rise in antisemitism, uncertainty about the pandemic and unrest in the Middle East, it is reassuring to know that what we see is only a slice of the story. When we are in fear of having anxiety about what to believe or what to do, we need to trust more than ever that life will play out as planned.
Yes, we should be alert and cautious. Yes, we should act on our true beliefs after contemplation and evaluation. However, as Morinis claims, we must continually “fan the inner sparks” of bitachon.