Rav Miller on Emunah & Bitachon
I received the following question [I’ve edited out personal information]:
I’ve just stumbled across your website and after reading it a bit decided to email…. I miscarried more times than I can recall, 20 plus is an average estimate, and while those years were the worst of my life I just remained focused on HaShem, much to the frustration of everyone around me. My faith has just steadily grown stronger…. With any decision making I need to do I always wonder what HaShem wants of me. I paid out possibly around $200k for fertility treatments but always said, I will work hard to pay for it, but ultimately it was up to HaShem if I had children and only He knew what was best for me. Years later I began to wonder if my desire for children wasn’t great enough and/ or it was wrong handing it over to HaShem. Can you clarify that for me please?
It would be presumptuous of me to tell you what Hashem wants from you. But we do know, as you said, that Hashem does know what’s best for us. That is certainly the correct sentiment. Beyond that, there can be lots of reasons why things happen or don’t happen, in this case why you have not been able to have children. Let me just throw out one general thought, which may or may not apply to your case.
Most people view prayer as a vehicle to some desire, or their heart’s desire. And that is indeed one important function of prayer, something that many people have yet to learn. However, there is also another way of looking at it: prayer is the goal and our heart’s desire is the vehicle. King David said, Ani tefillasi, “I am prayer.” He did not say, “I pray.” He said, “I am prayer.” He reached the exalted level of being in a constant state of prayer. Sometimes God doesn’t seem to answer our prayer because he wants us to pray harder, to unleash the full potential of our heart’s desire. But at other times he wants us to go even higher, and realize that prayer is an exalted state of being unto itself.
I cannot say which applies to you. But perhaps this might help you. Sometimes the lesson he wants us to learn is that we should not be attached to results, to serve him without the condition of expecting reward. That is not to say that there is no reward. But that we should detach from our expectations to such. There is reward. No prayer goes unanswered — even if it is not immediately answered in the way we thought it would be answered. Keep praying. Keep striving to learn more. Keep realizing God does always know what is best for us.
DEFINING EMUNAH & BITACHON
- What Is Emunah-Bitachon?
- Why learn about Bitachon?
- What should one think about when saying the Shema?
- What is meant by Menuchas HaNefesh (a “Calm Mind”)?
- How could Elisha Ben Avuya have lost his Emunah?
- What is meant by pointing at Hashem?
- How is Emunah “Righteousness”?
ACQUIRING EMUNAH & BITACHON
- How does one acquire Emunah?
- What if one doesn’t have the ability to believe?
- If Emunah is instinctual why is it so hard to believe?
- A decent man without Torah?
- What practical things can a person do to work on Bitachon?
TRUSTING ONLY IN HASHEM
- Why was Yosef punished for a minor lack of Bitachon?
- How does someone deal with betrayal?
- Why were the younger ones the successful ones?
- Why does Hashem make things seem hopeless at times?
- Wrong Emunah?
- How much Hishtadlus?
- Is it possible to forestall trouble?
- Why did David fight so many battles? Why not have Bitachon?
- Why does a person have to work?
- How should one deal with lack of success in Parnassa?
- How much effort should one put into finding a Shidduch?
- What does it mean “A person is led the way he wants to go”?
- Can people die before their time?
This book is intended for everyone from the most uninitiated to the most advanced student. Indeed, the general topic of emunah and bitachon, “faith and trust,” is for every human being: man and woman, adult and child, Jew and non-Jew. Like a gushing fountain, it’s a never-ending subject, completely replenishing itself with time. The youngest child can attain (and should be taught) some understanding of it while at the same time adults build on that understanding (hopefully) as time goes on.
Rabbi Miller was uniquely qualified to speak on such a subject. He had a special ability to make the most complex subjects sound simple. Of course, no one should mistake this for lack of depth. Indeed, just a perusal of all the sources he drew on, constantly and often just from memory, is testimony to the breadth. His uncanny ability to instantly apply this vast knowledge to every question thrown at him during his thousands of recorded lectures amply demonstrates the depth of this knowledge. (Not that he needed to prove that.)
His same words that struck a chord with the uninitiated caused great excitement to the advanced student. This ability, combined with his vast erudition and depth of knowledge, makes a book by him on the subject of faith something the widest spectrum of people can understand — and not only understand, as Rabbi Miller would say, but to utilize to change and grow; to make oneself a better person.
Although Rabbi Miller authored 12 books on his own, he left thousands of recorded lectures which include many ideas and/or many nuances of ideas that were either not necessarily mentioned in his books or explained in as much detail in those books. Our topic, emunah and bitachon, is implied in and indeed oozes from all his writings and recordings, but none of the books talk about it as explicitly or at least in once concentrated area as we have endeavored here.
This book is based primarily on the following lectures recorded by Rabbi Miller.
- 1. Singing In The World
- 23. Forestalling Trouble
- 241. Bitachon And Hishtadlus
- 334. Bitachon And Emunah
- 486. Bitachon: From Nowhere Comes My Help
- 562. Bitachon I
- 794. Bitachon And The Calm Mind
- 946. Three Aspects Of Bitachon
- S-10. Bitachon 1
- S-11. Bitachon 2
- S-12. Bitachon 3
- S-13. Bitachon 4
I’m happy to announce my newest book, Rav Avigdor Miller on Emunah and Bitachon. Please stayed tuned to this blog for excerpts. Meanwhile, here is a brief description of the book:
Virtually every decision we make is affected by our grasp of the principles of emunah and bitachon (faith and trust in Hashem). But where do we turn to gain clarity about these issues, to find answers to our many questions?
Rav Avigdor Miller, zt”l, answered that need for thousands of Jews, and more than a decade after his passing, he continues to do so. Rav Miller left behind a vast legacy of recorded shiurim and writings. Now, thanks to the efforts of Rabbi Yaakov Astor, an important part of that legacy has been transformed into this monumental book.
The themes of emunah and bitachon permeated a great many of Rav Miller’s shiurim and seforim, but the material was scattered in many different places and was thus hard to access. Now, that eye-opening material has been collected, assembled and organized into a fascinating question-and-answer book, a book that will answer your questions and bring you clarity when you need it most. Rav Miller’s bold, straightforward approach sheds a brilliant light on the most troubling, thorny issues that confront us. His crystal clear Torah wisdom will profoundly impact your life.
“This sefer will surely enlighten and inspire every reader.”
— Rabbi Shmuel Miller, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel