Al tivt’chu bin’divim, b’ven adam she’ein lo s’shuah. Teitzei rucho, yashuv l’admaso, ba’yom ha’hu avdu eshtonosav.
Do not rely on nobles, nor on a human being for he holds no salvation. When his spirit departs he returns to his earth, on that day his plans all perish.
David HaMelech instructs us not to rely upon any human being. Even one who is a “n’div,” which means that he has good intentions and a real desire to help, and even if right now he has the wherewithal to help, we should not place our reliance on him. We rely exclusively on Hashem.
The second phrase – “she’ein lo s’shuah” – has a triple meaning as explained by HaRav Avigdor Miller zt”l. Firstly, man cannot even really help himself for his own needs, because he, too, is totally dependent on Hashem. We are all too aware of people who in one second were healthy, strong, and wealthy – on top of the world – and the next second they were either gone or so severely ill that they couldn’t function, or they lost all their wealth and were left with a heap of debt.
Secondly, man is unable to help anyone else unless Hashem wants that person to be helped. The powerful and wealthy man can have the best intentions in the world to help us, but if Hashem does not want us to be helped at that moment, he will be unsuccessful in helping us.
Lastly, even if man was able to help us, it only seemed that way because that help really came from Hashem. Man was only a messenger. Of course we need to thank Hashem’s worthy messengers, but we must remember and internalize deeply that it was Hashem who helped us and the man was only the messenger.
This perek’s third pasuk means that we know with certainty that one day when our neshamah is taken back up, our body will return to the ground. On that day, man’s best-laid plans will go lost. If that man has promised us something, he can no longer deliver.
We know that someone can work for 40 or 50 years for one company or firm, giving his heart and soul to that company or firm. (Baruch Hashem, we know better and we really give our hearts and souls only to Hashem and not to our jobs or careers.) The CEO/managing partner reassures his key employee every year that he will make sure that he is very well taken care of when he retires. Then one day the CEO/managing partner dies. The new boss knows only that he has an older person with too big of a salary on the payroll. He knows only that he must retire this person with the lowest cost to the company, without regard to all that the employee has given to the company for the last 50 years. All the good intentions of the original powerful CEO go lost.
We must remember at all times that even when we do need to ask people for things as part of our normal hishtadlus, i.e., efforts that we must put forth, we are really not relying on that person. To inculcate that within us, we should always first ask Hashem to help us before asking anything of any human being. Ask Hashem that we should be successful and that if what we desire is truly in our best interest, then we and our words should find favor in the eyes and heart of that person we need to speak to, who could become the messenger to deliver our needs. Whether we receive our perceived need or not, we should thank Hashem. If we did receive it from the person we asked, we should first thank Hashem for the result and then thank the person for his efforts and desire to help.
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