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A Bit of Bitachon
by Dr. Arnie Gotfryd

"Even when a person is unworthy, his complete trust in G-d will evoke Divine kindness. Surely this applies when, in addition to one's bitachon, one has many other virtues." - The Rebbe, in "I Will Show You Wonders", published by Sichos in English.

 
Shimon Waronker's chicken has been bok-bok-bokking around in my brain lately.
 
Waronker is the high profile school principal I wrote about recently with an indomitably positive attitude based on his absolute trust in G-d. It's not his miraculous transformation of one of the worst and most dangerous schools in America that's got me going. It's the chicken that suddenly materialized in his inner city school courtyard on the eve of Yom Kippur exactly when he needed one to perform the Kapparot prayer service.
 
We all know that positive thinking has power, but this much power?
 
The Chassid in me says it's possible but what sayeth the scientist? Well, the 19th Century material realist would say "no way" but for the 21st Century man with 20th Century quantum physics behind him, it's not so strange at all. Hence we have books and films featuring "The Law of Attraction" like "What the Bleep," "The Matrix" and "The Secret" where consciousness creating reality is the norm.
 
My point here is not to elucidate how scientists have experimentally proven the reality of this notion by studying subatomic particles with fancy measurement devices. Nor is my intent to describe how they determined that local choices instantaneously impact physical objects in all kinds of faraway places and times. I don't even want to show you the wondrous correspondence between every detail in these scientific novellae and the timeless teachings of the Torah especially as illumined by Chassidus.
 
What I really want to report here are the results of a little bitachon experimentation I did today in 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, NY.
 
Picture the scene. This morning's services had just ended and literally several thousand Jews from all over the world were still in the sanctuary enjoying their studies, prayers, and conversations. As I was about to close the prayerbook I was using, I noticed a Hebrew inscription on the inside cover with the surname and hometown of its owner. On closer inspection, I saw how well-worn it was yet how carefully it had been treated over the years.
 
I was moved to restore the beloved little siddur to its owner, but how would I ever find someone from the town of Kfar Saba, Israel, among the myriad locals and visitors in the immense and tightly packed premises of Lubavitch World Headquarters? That's when the bitachon bug bit me. I decided then and there that if I put my trust in HaKadosh Baruch Hu, He will find a way to get that little book to its bochur.
 
I turned an attentive ear to the conversations around me and approached a youth in his twenties who was speaking Hebrew with his friends. I excused myself for interrupting him, and asked if he knew anyone here from Kfar Saba. He said, "I myself am from Kfar Saba." I showed him the siddur and asked him if he recognized the name. "No, I don't... wait, there is a student in the Yeshiva where I work with that name... Sure, I'd be happy to return it to him."
 
I guess bitachon doesn't only work for Shimon.

*  *  *

About 300 years ago, a man who was about to be hanged miraculously escaped the noose when a sudden earthquake in Spain disrupted his execution proceedings. After wandering Europe looking for explanations for a long time, he traveled to the Baal Shem Tov who was reputed to understand the mysteries of all the worlds.
 
Before he had a chance to introduce himself and ask whether the Creator planned the earthquake long ago or whether it was a current divine intervention, the Baal Shem Tov directed his attention to what was happening with a peasant walking by in the marketplace, moaning in pain because of his toothache. Exactly at that moment, a wagon of hay drove by and the peasant reached out to grab a straw and used it to pick at his painful tooth. "Aaahhhhh," he sighed, "That's better."
 
The Baal Shem Tov turned to the traveler and told him that the straw he pulled was the only one in that wagonload belonging to a species having the anesthetic quality he so much needed at that moment. Divine Providence had so arranged things in advance that it would be available for him exactly at the moment that he needed it.
 
The traveler was surprised to have been answered so clearly by the words and events that greeted him upon his arrival. What wasn't so surprising was that he became an ardent adherent of the Baal Shem Tov's.

*  *  *

As I sat quietly working on this email in a friend's sukkah in Brooklyn, another visitor started singing, "Yesh bitachon, yesh dvar hakol. - Where there is trust in Hashem, there is something, everything," and then said, "I don't even know why I'm singing that song."
 
Hmm, I wondered. Is it serendipity, synchronicity or just my bitachon consciousness that he's picking up on? It looks like the old Chassidic adage, "Think good, it will be good," is going around. And that's probably why it's coming around.

 

 


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