In response to negative emotional reactions to coronavirus, Coach Menachem Bernfeld, Certified Life Coach at NexStep Education, began sharing Zoom therapy sessions over two months ago and called them Let’s Get Ready with Coach Menachem. They began with a small group and grew to include hundreds of participants.
Each session starts with a brief introduction from Coach Menachem, followed by a short shiur from the guest speaker and then an interactive Q&A session with the participants and the guest speaker.
On Sunday evening, July 26, Let’s Get Ready with Coach Menachem featured Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin speaking about emunah and bitachon.
First, Reb Sholom Mordechai shared enlightening insights and ideas about emunah and bitachon and that truly resonate. He began by teaching that emunah and bitachon bring g’ulah. Hashem gave us the Torah to instill in us our purpose, which is to fulfill Torah and mitzvos. Also, we each have our own specific purpose. We as Jews all have a natural emunah that we inherited from Avraham Avinu, and our job is to reveal it. We have to learn the parts in the Torah that speak about emunah and bitachon. Emunah, he taught, means faith that Hashem created the world and the “I’m a creation of Hashem Who is the ultimate good.” Whatever happens to us comes from Hashem. There is no other power in the world than Hashem. Emunah is like a tree, and bitachon is the fruit of the tree. Bitachon – trust in Hashem – will take you out of the problems. Once something happens, we have to realize that this is the way it had to happen, so it’s good even if we can’t see the good. Bitachon means davening to Hashem for help. Knowing that no one but Hashem can help or hurt us is emunah. He taught, “How strong your bitachon is, that’s how much Hashem will help you. If you think positively, trust in Hashem will help you, and that is the vessel for the y’shuah.”
Reb Sholom Mordechai shared how, every day for eight years while he was incarcerated, he would thank Hashem for yesterday and believe each day Hashem will take me out of here. He recited the whole book of T’hilim every day and he learned Shaar HaBitachon. Emunah and bitachon is the way to think as a Jew. He pointed out that Rivkah Imeinu and Yitzchak Avinu davened for so many years for a child, and then finally they were answered. Every story in the Torah is a lesson for us. We are their children and we should never think that we are trapped in a situation. We can daven to Hashem and it’s important to learn Torah. When you learn Shaar HaBitachon, it helps you understand how Hashem wants you to address a challenge.
Next, Reb Sholom Mordechai answered a question about bitachon versus effort. “Jewish hishtadlus is not a contradiction to bitachon. Hishtadlus is good when it helps your bitachon.”
Reb Sholom Mordechai taught that any nisayon is darkness, and at that moment you can’t see Hashem. In the Hebrew word “nisayon” there is the word “nes,” which means to lift up. Every person possesses within himself energy he doesn’t know he has. He continued to explain that every time you act in a Yiddishe way during a challenge, you receive more muscle power. “Bitachon is an obligation. Hashem expects us to have bitachon.” Also, it doesn’t matter if you are worthy or not.
When we do what Hashem wants us to do, even in difficult situations, that strengthens our bitachon. He shared how he had to fight to be able to light a menorah in prison and also to do other mitzvos. Performing a mitzvah reminds us that we are connected to Hashem. When we are in a hot spot, our natural reaction is to become angry at the situation. If we feel depressed, this is the yeitzer ha’ra taking over and we grow further from Hashem. We must stop and find our bearings and ask why am I here? It’s all from Hashem. Look at a situation and ask how does a believing Jew look at this? “When I was in prison, I made a decision that I’m going to go through this as a Yid.” He shared that he had nights he cried but the difficulty didn’t define him. “What defines me is that I am a Yid.” Difficulty comes when there is a schism between what I learn in yeshivah and how the world works.
He described some of the challenges in prison, including times they took away his yarmulke and tzitzis by force. He stood his ground and eventually they were given back to him. He taught: “When a Yid is attacked by fear, this is the yeitzer ha’ra putting you down. So, we have to engage it with a fight.”
He quipped how at one point, when he was thrown into solitary confinement because of the yarmulke issue, he realized that he wasn’t alone; the yeitzer ha’ra was with him. He worked it out in his mind. He said to himself: I’m going through the test of my life. It’s coming from Hashem and I have bitachon that Hashem will take me out. Hashem works with us when we work with Him.
“When we serve Hashem without calculating, then He helps us without calculation.”
He shared how he never gave credence to the 27-year sentence. “When we are going through a challenge, we need to look at things that could also have gone wrong and they didn’t.” Reb Sholom Mordechai explained that we do hishtadlus because Hashem wants us to do it, knowing that it’s not our effort that will bring the solution but rather it is all from Hashem. “In a situation where you can’t do something, it means Hashem will do it for you.”
He shared how he was freed on Zos Chanukah [the last day of Chanukah] and they came and told him to get out. “Every y’shuah comes in a fast way.” He shared his thoughts on being freed.
“I was in a pit and Hashem took me out. I trusted You and You took me out. Hashem loves me and it’s a miracle.” He reiterated the lesson that the stronger the trust, the stronger the y’shuah. Our trust is what creates the vessel for our y’shuah.
We have to know that issues don’t resolve themselves. Hashem resolves them, and if it’s not answered “yes” today, then it’s the wrong day. We believe that Hashem creates every moment and every situation that we are in.
He taught that any thought that brings you to depression is coming from the yeitzer ha’ra. You need to replace negative thoughts with Torah thoughts. He shared how he would replace negative thoughts with thoughts he learned from Shaar HaBitachon.
We need to teach our children that we should do things in a way that will make Hashem happy. “It’s impossible for a Yid to be happy if Hashem is not happy.”
“When going through difficulty, give Hashem something beyond and you will see how Hashem will help you beyond.”
By Susie Garber