Shaar Bitachon / Gate of TrustYomi Version - 7 Week Cycle
with classic commentaries
Gate #4 of Chovos Halevavos / Duties of the Heart
by Rabeinu Bahya ibn Paquda zt'l
(49th Cycle, day 14 of 49)
That one is very careful and makes a great effort to fulfill what the Creator required of him in His service, to do his mitzvot and to guard oneself from what He has forbidden, just like he seeks that the Creator agrees to do with him in that which he trusts Him, as our sages said "make His will your will so that He will make your will His will, nullify your will to His will so that He will nullify the will of others to your will" (Avot 2:4).
(Tov Halevanon: i.e. nullify your taava (physical desires) so that they will not lead you to nullify a commandment of G-d, and separate from what is permitted to you, "so that He will nullify the will of others to your will", i.e. so that His providence on you will be greater than His providence on other people, and everyone in the world will yield for your sake, as the talmud says (Berachos 6b) "the whole world was created for his sake only".)
And the verse says "Trust in the L-ord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and verily you shall be fed" (Tehilim 37:3), and "G-d is good to those who hope in Him, to one who seeks Him" (Eicha 3:25).
But, If one trusts in G-d and rebels against Him, how foolish is he, how weak is his intellect and his understanding! For he can see in this world that if an employer appoints a man to do something or refrain from doing something and the man disobeys the instruction, this will be the strongest factor in the employer's refusing to fulfill his side of the deal. All the more so, for one who disobeys the commandments of G-d, for which G-d Himself testified that one who trusts in Him and disobeys Him will have his hopes foiled and his trust will be considered hypocritical.
Rather, he will be like that of who it is written "For what is the hope of the flatterer who deceives, when G-d casts off his soul? Will G-d listen to his cry when trouble comes on him?" (Iyov 27:8-9), and "Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, offer up to idols, and follow other gods that you know not. And will you come and stand before Me in this house, upon which My Name is called, and say, 'We are saved,' in order to commit all these abominations? Has this house upon which My name is called, become a den of thieves in your eyes? I, too, behold I have seen it, says the L-ord." (Yirmiyahu 7:9-11).
(Marpe Lenefesh: Even though G-d has compassion on all His creations, including the wicked, as he explained earlier, even so, for this, one should not think that G-d will forever tolerate him, and trust that G-d will continue bestowing good to him always despite his wickedness. And even though things are going well now, there is no escape from His judgments, and eventually, when He wishes, He will choose a time and place to collect His debt (of justice). Rather it is proper for a man to endeavor to fulfill all of G-d's commandments.
Matanas Chelko: Besides that one must realize that all powers are in G-d's hands, none can prevent Him from doing what He wishes, and further that G-d knows his thoughts, and it is impossible to trick Him. Hence, he cannot claim verbally that he trusts in G-d while he does not really trust Him in his inner being. Thirdly, that he should not associate anything or anyone else with G-d, as before. However, an extra condition is needed, namely, that this is in truth the will of G-d. For, one cannot place his trust in a strong person who can help him unless he knows that the person actually wants to help him. For example, if one tells a poor man: "such and such a person is a very rich man and is able to help you with all your needs. The poor man still should not place his trust in the rich man since he does not know whether the rich man actually wants to help him.
So too, by G-d, there is no doubt that He can perform signs and wonders for a person. But one cannot trust in this unless he knows that G-d truly wants to do so. The one and only way through which a person can know whether G-d wants to help and do for him is only if he himself does the will of G-d. Hence, necessarily, one of the pillars of trust is that he be a righteous person who does the will of G-d. And even though G-d also does the will of the wicked sometimes, nevertheless, they cannot trust in this because they cannot know for sure how long G-d will hold back retribution from them. Unlike the righteous, who can rest assured.
"make His will your will so that He will make your will His will" - the author is telling us that this mishna is the pillar of trust. He who wants to rest assured that G-d will do what he wants, let him do the will of G-d. Otherwise, how can he trust that G-d will do his wish? But if he exerts himself greatly to do the will of G-d, then he can hope and trust that G-d will likewise do his will... (Translator: see Gate 3 Chapter 7 where the author brings the minimum service whereby a person is assured of receiving continuous divine benefits.)
"Trust in the L-ord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and verily you shall be fed" - both things go together. If he wants to trust in G-d, he must do good, as before. And that which the wicked can trust in G-d's trait of kindness and compassion, this is only temporarily. As the Marpe Lenefesh commentary wrote (see above). Hence, the wicked should not trust that G-d's compassion and kindness will continuously bestow on him forever. Rather, he can trust temporarily on G-d's trait of kindness and compassion, that G-d will withhold retribution from him and continue to bestow life to him. But he must repent in the end and he can never know for sure when the time will come that G-d will collect His debt [of justice]. On the other hand, one who does the will of G-d can place his trust in G-d. For through this he is assured that G-d wants to help him and do what's good for him since G-d already promised this.
"Will G-d hear his cry when trouble comes on him?" - hence G-d testified that he does not wish to help and aid a person who transgresses His word. One who thinks to himself that G-d will help him even if he does not fulfill what G-d commanded him to do - this is the greatest folly.
"Has this house upon which My name is called, become a den of thieves in your eyes?" - even though, of all places in the world, the Temple in Jerusalem is the place where prayers are most readily answered and for trusting in G-d, nevertheless, if it has become a den of thieves, already they should no longer trust in this, and they are not assured anymore that if they scream out in prayers that G-d will fulfill their request. (translator: for perhaps it is better for them to receive sufferings to atone for their evil deeds than to be saved)
Translator: nevertheless, one must know and trust that his repentance will always be accepted no matter how far he strayed and what he did etc. as the Marpe Lenefesh commentary explained earlier: "Otherwise, he will abandon hope from the favors of G-d, since he is in doubt whether he is worthy of them, and his trust in G-d will diminish. And through this, he will distance from G-d and His torah. Rather, let him reflect that G-d is benevolent to the good and the bad, as written: "His mercy is on all of His creations" (Tehilim 145:9). And through this, he will come closer to G-d and repent and he will become worthy of the good.")