On Sunday evening, June 13, Rabbi Doniel Katz, sought-after speaker and teacher, shared an enlightening shiur about radical emunah on behalf of the Let’s Get Real with Coach Menachem program, which runs every Sunday night at 10 p.m.
Rabbi Katz first shared the dictionary definition of faith, which is belief in something without logic or evidence. He then shared the definition of emunah according to the Baal Shem Tov, who called emunah “d’veikus.” It’s not logical belief, but rather a higher state of consciousness. Emunah means that when I am facing challenges and pain, part of my consciousness is awareness of the Divine and knowing that everything is happening to me because of Hashem. We have to access awareness that there is nothing but Hashem.
He taught that tests happen to us to make us better people. Emunah doesn’t mean just belief in G-d. There are three levels of emunah. The first level is that there is a Hashem and I know Hashem loves me. The second level is in my body: My physical health comes from bringing emunah into my body. He taught that the root of illness is a lack of emunah. Emunah means knowing and feeling and seeing that Hashem is in everything – always – and every time is for the good. Emunah needs to be deeply embodied in my heart, even when tragedy comes. I need to realize that this is here to build me so I am joyful. The litmus test is maintaining consistent joy through all challenges in life.
The Baal Shem Tov taught that bad things happen because Hashem wants to teach us a lesson. “What happens in life goes after what is happening in my heart. Challenges are generated by what Hashem wants me to work on. This is the ultimate game changer for people.” He added, “We are not supposed to go through life. We are supposed to grow through life.”
Radical emunah is saying that if Hashem is in the darkness, I have the ability to feel Hashem in my heart. He said that first we realize that everything is controlled by Hashem. The next level is awakening what resists emunah. The third level is releasing it, and the last level is: Now, I can see the Divine even in the darkest moment.
“In a challenge, we need to ask what we can learn from this and how can we grow from this challenge. This becomes a radical place of ownership and seeing it’s a gift. This is when we can do the most healing and growth and this is the opening of living with d’veikus.” The essence of emunah is in the heart. It is hard to feel everything is for the good. Knowing everything is for the good is radical emunah, and that is the beginning of avodas Hashem. It means I can feel the good even if things are going against the way I want the world to go.
Rabbi Katz pointed out that no matter what challenge we face, there is always more infinite good around us than the challenge. Also, you don’t need to know why something happens to understand that it is good for you. Your mind fixates on the challenge or the negative or the fear, and you cannot focus on your blessings. We need to shift our thinking and feel the blessings in our heart.
When a challenge hits, I can use wide awareness of all the blessings I have and ask what the growth opportunity can be. “We don’t know why Hashem does something, but we can ask what Hashem is trying to teach me.” Ask yourself what midah He is awakening in you and what doubt or pain is awakened in this challenge.
The word “emunah” comes from the root “uman,” which means craftsman. With emunah, you build or sculpt yourself so you can come out more Divine after a challenge.
He explained that if I don’t have consciousness, I can’t grow. All challenges are created to help me be aware of my negative traits like ego or anxiety. Then I see I have an issue and need to study musar or get therapy, etc. When Hashem gives us a challenge, it shows He believes in us.
“If Hashem didn’t believe in you, He wouldn’t challenge you.”
This inspiring shiur can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber