Bringing spirituality into the world is our responsibility.
Cincinnati Rabbinic Authorities
Trust and faith are inadequate translations of emuna because they imply an abstract concept that cannot be experienced through the use of physical means. Rather, emuna is an action requiring pre-conception and consciousness; it utilizes will power. It is a requirement of any relationship, but most importantly of the relationship we have with our Creator. The development of this trait has been written about for thousands of years and will continue to be contemplated until the end of time. Emuna is an absolute necessity. So what is emuna exactly and why is it so important?
We learn in a passage from Chukas that to question Hashem’s ways is the gravest sin of all. We are instructed carefully to recognize that our lives are being directed by Hashem directly and that He will do no harm to us; everything He does is for good only. How can this be translated into terms that are applicable to our daily lives? Simply, we are to have complete faith despite any discomfort or pain we experience in our lives; that what is happening to us is for our betterment and this hurt is a pre-requisite to furthering our process in life. Therefore, to fully grasp the concept, one must understand what our lives on earth are meant to accomplish.
We have a purpose that supersedes the process of life and death. The objective is to achieve harmony between the spiritual world - of which we have a special connection to - and the physical world - which Hashem created. Why did Hashem create the universe? To have a relationship with His creation. Hashem (which is entirely spiritual and non-corporeal) is above physical creation. Therefore, to have a connection with the physical world He creates, there must be a vehicle in which to bring the spiritual within it. That vehicle is free-will. Let’s consider this multifaceted model for the universe and nature of G-d in a more tangible form.
We were created in G-d’s image and the world was created to exemplify G-d’s nature, but what does that mean? Basically, it is indicative of the character of relationships in the world. Each one of us are connected to each other, the world around us, and most importantly, Hashem himself. Therefore, through the observation of the framework of creation, we learn every lesson we must have to comprehend how to attach ourselves to the spiritual world - drawing the divine into the physical world in which we exist - thus achieving our purpose in life. With that being said, it is deduced that the bond we are meant to create with Hashem can be seen in a working model of our daily lives. In fact, there are two.
The first is the parental obligation to guidetheir children through life; to teach them the lessons required to be the best human beings they can become. It is a delicate balance of coaching the child in the proper behaviors while allowing the child the opportunity to make their own decisions, and when the wrong decisions are made, disciplining them so that the original lesson is solidified and those mistakes are avoided next time. Ask any parent and they will tell you that raising a child is the most difficult undertaking they have ever conceived. The child has a responsibility to their parents to strive to learn the lessons taught them and to achieve the highest level of betterment. The second is the relationship between husband and wife. When two opposing and often contradictory elements combine in marriage, they are placed in a situation in which compromise, unyielding forgiveness and unconditional acceptance are obligatory. Both forms of relationships are a constant and delicate balance requiring considerable attention and occupation.
What these models teach us of the of our link with Hashem is that as our Creator, He is constantly directing our lives, allowing us freedom to make our own decisions and chastising our blunders of misguided direction. On the other hand, as the only creation given free-will, we are given an elevated station within the spiritual world far above the other pieces of His handiwork. We are continually expected to find harmony between our conflicting physicality and spirituality in hope of maintaining a balance between them for the sake of having a relationship with Hashem. Only when we keep in mind these fundamental truths of what is expected of us are we capable of understanding emuna.
Emuna means understanding that Hashem’s knowledge far exceeds our own, but also that we are meant to understand on our own level. There is no blind faith in Judaism for the simple fact that everything created is meant to serve as a link to Our Creator and therefore, cannot be completely out of our reach. We are expected to have emuna that the suffering of all humans serves a purpose and that we may not comprehend that purpose yet. There is, however, a promise that one day we will. Emuna means looking beyond our senses and recognizing the part of ourselves that is drawn to the spiritual world; consciously recognizing our connection to Hashem daily and throughout every action we make. And finally, emuna means knowing beyond doubt that we were created for a purpose. With that purpose, even our wildest dreams are possible.
For more information regarding emuna see Rabbi Shalom Arush’s book, The Garden of Emuna: A Practical Guide to Life which can be purchased at Yaakov's Place (2245 Losantiville Road, Cincinnati, OH 45237 (513) 703-5954) or click on the links above to contact Cincinnati’s capable Rabbi’s to inquire and receive personalized instruction.
Have comments or questions?
We’d love to hear them! Post a comment and you will be answered within 48 hours.