SEVEN PILLARS OF FAITH
A condensed version of Shiva Amudey Ha-emunah by Rabbi Yitzchak Breiter
Courtesy of Avraham Greenbaum of Azamra.org
“Trust in God and do good, dwell in the land and feed off faith” ( Psalms 37:3 ) .
Everything in the entire universe is under God’s control. This includes everything that happens to you personally, both spiritually and materially, including what you yourself do, whether deliberately or unwittingly, wilfully or under compulsion: everything is from God. Even when appearances suggest otherwise, the believer pays attention not to the external appearance of this world but to the underlying truth.
Everything we do is ultimately controlled by God, though this is concealed from us by our egos, which make us think we are separate from and independent of God. We were created like this to give us free will. This way we are able to turn to God of our own volition and discover for ourselves that God controls all things, including our own thoughts, feelings and actions.
Even though all things in the spiritual and material realms are in God’s hands, we are not supposed to wait for God to do everything. The universe is so arranged that we have freedom of action in many areas. When we act, whether it be to make a living or to attend to any of our other needs, we must understand that, while it is up to us to take the initiative and act as if everything is in our hands, in fact all things ultimately depend upon God. No matter what we feel we ought to do, whether in our spiritual or material lives, our first step should always be to ask God to guide us and bless our efforts with success.
When things appear to turn out badly for us, we have to accept that this is God’s will and that whatever happens is for the best. Even when things go wrong because of something we ourselves may have thought, said or done, we must accept that this too is from God. Other people are also free agents, yet everything they do is ultimately controlled by God. If someone insults you or in some way harms you, know that this has been sent by God as a way to cleanse your soul. If things go against you, be patient. When you accept everything as God’s will, this causes the veil of concealment to be removed, thus manifesting God’s control over all creation.
Your spiritual growth is also under God’s control. Even if you feel a desire to grow in a specific area, as long as you are not ready to achieve what you want, things will be arranged in such a way as to hold you back – either by external obstacles or through some idea that becomes implanted in your own mind to prevent you from reaching your goal. This does not mean that God is rejecting you. He knows that in the long run this will be the best way to bring you to the ultimate good. The purpose of holding you back is to prompt you to cry out and pray to God to help you rise from your current level and bring you nearer your true goal.
Since God is everywhere and in all things, everything we experience is actually a communication from God. This includes our inner thoughts and feelings. Even negative thoughts and feelings – heaviness, lack of enthusiasm, depression and the like – are from God. Everything you hear, see, or experience in life, whether from people you know or from complete strangers, is a call to you from God. Even unclear or contradictory messages are sent with a purpose: to give us choice and free will in order to test us. The way to interpret these messages from God and to understand which we need to follow and which we must ignore is through evaluating everything in the light of Torah teaching.
Faith in God includes faith in the Tzaddikim whom God sends into this world to teach us how to transcend our lowly state and fulfil l our spiritual destiny. Not only must we accept that God gave the Torah to Moses on Sinai; we must also acknowledge that God sends wise men in every age to lift us out of our exile and teach us the true path in life.