Toldot: To Really Trust

Digging Wells – A Matter of Trust

Abraham fed wayfarers, Jacob herded sheep, and Isaac dug wells. Which would you rather do? The host is in a position to help others and make them happy. The shepherd provides for G-d’s creatures. The well digger provides access to water. If you could choose, which is your favorite?

I can tell you that my favorite is well digging. There is nothing like searching for water, digging till you drop, seeing little in the way of evidence and still trusting that the spring is there. With just a little more effort, you will reach it. One more shovel fill, then another and voila, you hit water.

There is nothing more gratifying than placing your trust in something you cannot see and being right. But here is the deeper part. There is nothing more liberating than placing your trust in something higher than yourself. Knowing that you don’t need to create the water, you just need to trust that it is there and keep digging till you find it, takes all the pressure off you and places it where it belongs. Abraham and Jacob had to provide, Isaac was free to trust.[1]

He don’t work any less, if anything he worked harder. But he was free of worry. The primary paralysis that grips our spirit, is the paralysis of fear. Fear for the future. We are rarely worried about the present. In almost every situation, we can handle the present. We are alive, breathing and surviving. The question is always about tomorrow. If things remain the same, how will I survive tomorrow?

Well guess what, I am surviving today although I had no idea yesterday how I would get to today. I have good reason to place my trust in the same power that brought me to today. That power is certainly able to bring me to tomorrow. Knowing that I am in the hands of someone that can lead me into tomorrow takes away the burden of fear. Now I am free to put my pedal to the metal and grind.

You want to know why water, the elixir of life, is discovered by digging on the surface where the spring isn’t visible? It is because the ability to trust in a higher power is the source of all life. Without that, there is only me, here and now. The future is a closed book and the fear can be overwhelming. Every mishap or obstacle, can throw me off my feet. Trust in G-d, is the elixir of life.

Every Night I Trust

Every night before going to bed we entrust our souls to G-d. Throughout the world, billions lay themselves to sleep with nary a worry about waking up in the morning. We have no idea what tomorrow holds. Every morning hundreds if not thousands across the world fail to wake up. Some die from heart disease, others from aneurisms and others from sleep apnea. Then there are the unexplained deaths. The perfectly healthy people who expect to wake up like everyone else, like they did every day of their lives and yet they die. Despite this very true fact, almost no one worries when they go to bed at night about waking up in the morning. Why? Because they trust.

Yes, we trust that we will awaken in the morning as we did every day before. We trust the sun will rise, and that the house won’t burn down in our sleep. Yes, we engage in many dangerous activities daily, not the least of which is crossing the street. We eat in restaurants with no way of knowing what went into our food. We buy meat from the market with no way of knowing if it is contaminated. We board airplanes with no way of knowing whether a terrorist has boarded or if a bird will fly into the engines.

Of course we take precautions. Food and Health Administrations rate restaurants and close down the major offenders. The Federal Aviation Authority screens passengers to weed out the dangers, but we know how porous our safety systems are and yet we trust. Somehow when it comes to trusting that tomorrow will work itself out and that everything will be okay, we find it difficult to trust.

The Mind Won’t Trust

The culprit is the mind. We are intelligent beings and our intelligence seeks concrete proof. It asks questions and isn’t satisfied until it has answers. It is the way we are built. When we board the train or cross the street the mind is lulled into slumber by the numbness of repetition. When it comes to finding solutions to today’s problems and worrying about surviving tomorrow, the mind is fully alert. Vibrant and robust, it asks and probes, not satisfied until the answers are concrete.

There are answers that satisfy the mind, we just need to learn them. The simplest answer is to look at the past for reassurance. We do this every day when we perform all the mind numbing activities that make little sense when we consider the statistics. We rely on the overwhelming majority that get through these activities safely and trust that we will too. We place our trust in the majority rule.

The same applies to our worries about tomorrow. Tomorrow won’t be the first tomorrow of your life. You have had tomorrows every day since birth. You made it through every one of them. Of course tomorrow might be that one pivotal exception, but the numbers are on your side. Go to sleep and rest assured. You are in good hands. The hands that delivered you safely into every morrow since birth.

To Really Trust

Just before going to sleep we say a prayer that communicates our trust in G-d. “B’yadcha, Afkid Ruchiin your hand I entrust my spirit.” I know that thousands won’t wake up tomorrow, yet I rest assured because I place my trust in G-d. My body will go into sleep mode with its systems barely surviving. My soul/consciousness will go wherever souls go while bodies sleep. I am not afraid. “I trust you.”

Let’s take a close look at these Hebrew words, specifically the first letter of each word. “B’yadcha, Afkid Ruchi.” The first three letters are, B’ER. If you know Hebrew you will recognize that word. That’s right. It means a well. Isaac dug wells. The Hebrew word for well is an acronym for “B’yadcha, Afkid Ruchi - In your hands I entrust my spirit.” Well-digging requires trust. Well-digging strengthens trust.

G-d Trusts In You

A Rabbi in South America was walking to synagogue one day when a teenager stopped him to inquire about his peculiar garb. The Rabbi explained that he was on his way to synagogue to pray to G-d. The boy said that he doesn’t believe in G-d. To which the Rabbi replied, “G-d believes in you.”

I often say that G-d existence doesn’t hang on our faith. If we choose not to believe, He won’t suddenly disappear. If we choose to believe, it won’t spring Him back into existence. He is here whether we believe in Him or not. The question is, will we make the best use of life by living with faith in Him?

G-d believes we will or He wouldn’t have awakened us today. He woke us because He had a task for us and He trusts us to fulfill it. Going to sleep shows our trust in G-d. Waking up shows G-d’s trust in us.[2]

[1] Surely there were shades of each in each, these were just the primary thrusts of their respective approaches.

[2] Based on Maor V’shemes, commentary on Genesis 26: 15 and Psalm 55.