Thursday, October 22, 2009

A View on Bitachon

A Guest Post by Adam

Have you ever gone rappelling? If not, picture rock climbing in reverse.

I still remember my first experience rappelling. Our high school tour group had reached the peaks of the Judean Desert in Southern Israel. The top of this cliff was actually at sea level. Four hundred meters below lie the lowest exposed point on Earth – The Dead Sea.

We were then given instructions: how to wear the safety harness, how to slowly let the rope run through your closed fists to gently descend the sheer desert cliff to the sand below. We were also given assurances. We were actually on a double rope system. Even if we let go completely, one of the guides above could pull the emergency rope, to prevent a sudden impact with the desert floor.

Ultimately, I knew we would be safe. I mean, they wouldn't take high school groups to do something dangerous, right? As the professional rock climbers strapped me in, I heard many metal pieces locking into place. I suddenly felt a bit uneasy; did all of these metal clasps close completely?

With many kinds of rope and harnessing surrounding my body, I was told to lean backwards over the cliff, and rest my full weight on the rope.

I slowly started walking backwards, nearing sideways in my descent down the cliff. I felt like I could start trusting the rope. I took a few more steps down, bearing my weight on the rope as instructed. Just then, I had one of the most terrifying experiences in my entire life.

I felt something unbuckle.

I immediately scrambled to grasp onto the rocks in front of me. Screaming, panic stricken, I felt entirely paralyzed. As I tried support my weight on the tips of my fingers against the harsh desert rock, I heard someone yelling to me from above.

“It's okay, that was just your fanny pack!”

The kind voice from above told me that I had to trust the rope. In fact, all of my weight was already being supported by the rope system in place. (It only then dawned on me that my two-fingertip hold on the rock wasn't actually stronger than gravity). The voice further explained that, as long as I tried to hold onto the rocks, I couldn't move at all.

Realizing that I had no choice, I grabbed onto the rope with both hands and started to rappel.

I loved it! Immediately, I was flying through the air, kicking off the cliff to gain speed, and instinctively controlling my descent based on my grip of the rope. At the bottom, my only regret is that I didn't enjoy the experience from the first step.

This is an actual story that happened to me many years ago. However, I recently realized that it is also a powerful parable that can teach us about bitachon – trust in G-d.

From your first breath in the world until your last, you are “strapped in” to G-d's Divine control. Most of us think that we are in control. One may think that his strength, knowledge, or street savvy are the keys to live a happy and prosperous life. Yet when such a person feels his life “unbuckling”, he scrambles to grab onto any rock passing by – the rock of deceit, theft, or any other method to keep from falling hard on the sand below.

How should we weather life's challenges without resorting to forbidden means? By trusting in G-d. More accurately, we must realize that everything comes ONLY from G-d. Just like in the story - the “weight” of your burdens is ALREADY being carried by your Creator! Your two-fingertip hold (your own brain or brawn) isn't actually enough to get by.

All of this has caused me to change my strategies for learning to trust in G-d completely. I don't need to physically (or spiritually) do anything different. I just need to fully realize the situation that I am already in; that I am totally dependent on my Creator.

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