A manual of Jewish belief (a guide to real Judaism) for the thinking individual.

Copyright © 1977 by R' Avi Shafran

[Web Page Last Revised: Monday, January 31, 2005 08:01 AM ]


Chapter 21. Trust in G~d

There exists an animal called "naive optimism", an example of which would be a man falling from a mountain cliff assuring himself that he will survive the incident unscathed.

Very often the Jewish concept of "trust" is misconstrued as meaning something very similar. It does not.

Trust, in the outlook of Real Judaism, means the acceptance of the future as inevitable and divinely ordained.

Which simply means that the attitude of our poor mountain climber should be resignation to the fact that "whatever shall be, shall be" and that G~d will do whatever He deems right, in no way discounting the possibility of the man's demise.

Back in chapter 10 we came across a similar thought, namely that the future (or History, as was the subject there) is inevitable and completely controlled by G~d. However, as we mentioned there, the inevitability of what the future holds does not relieve us of our duty to try to shape it. Though our efforts cannot change the eventual coming about of what G~d wants to happen, we are nevertheless obligated to make something of an effort in our own behalf.

Let me present a useful example. The Torah sanctions man's earning a living. (If it did not, we would not be allowed to work for a living, for the Torah must govern every single aspect of our lives – see the end of chapter 10). The Talmud quotes a verse from the Bible in support of this. So men may work and earn a living.

The attitude of Real Judaism is that these two occurrences are two separate happenings, and not that the second is a direct result of the first. G~d wants Mr. A. to make $10,000 this year. Whether Mr. A. works like crazy or barely lifts a finger is of no consequence. However, there is that other law, namely, that Mr. A. is supposed to work for a living, as the Torah says. Now G~d, before He lets Mr. A. have his dough, "waits" to see if Mr. A. will make the effort expected of him. If Mr. A. obliges, he receives his ten thousand, but not as a direct result of his having worked for it. His working was only the trigger mechanism of the reception of the cash, which was enforced by the Divine overseer of work and no one else. If Mr. A. loafs around all year, G~d may decide to withhold the dough, or, if He so sees fit, He may give it to him anyway, as a sudden find or stroke of good "luck".

Now, one might object, this seems a trifle silly. There is no practical difference between the relatively complicated system we have just described and the traditional secular view, that one simply works and thereby gets paid.

This is not true. There is a very pronounced difference. According to the view of Real Judaism, though man must work as in the secular outlook, since his wages do not come because of his efforts they likewise do not come in exact accordance with his efforts. In other words, Real Jewish men work only to fulfill the taimudic law which states that men should have a livelihood, and therefore they do not have any reason for overworking themselves or making extra efforts for achieving financial success. In short, they needn't work as long or as hard as do men with secular views. For, according to the secular view the wages received are in direct proportion to the amount of effort expended, so it is only logical to work harder, whereas, according to the Real Jewish view the wages (meaning the funds received from one source or another) are not affected by any extra output of effort.

This should not be misunderstood as meaning that a Real Jewish man may loaf on the job, thereby causing his boss to lose money. On the contrary, talmudic law is very strict concerning the theft possible through a worker's laziness. We merely mean to say that a Real Jew needn't undertake more than an average work schedule, in the realization that his effort does not reward him; G~d does.

The free time afforded by this outlook is of course to be used to fulfill more commandments and to study the Torah.

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