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 Flaming Faith

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Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the books, Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes, and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

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Flaming Faith


When we analyze the opening words of Havdala, we realize how fitting these words are as Shabbos comes to a close. Let’s begin with the following.


There is a quote that reads “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within yourself, you’ll be depressed. If you look at Hashem, you’ll be at rest.”


One who believes in Hashem doesn’t worry[1] as it says המאמין לא יחיש,[2] the believer will not worry.[3] In fact, the word דאגה, worry,[4] contains the first five letters of the alef-beis excluding the beis. This denotes בטחון, trust, since one who worries lacks trust in Hashem.[5] This is just as the Chovas Halvevos writes that the essence of bitachon is menuchas hanefesh.[6]


The words מה יהיה, what will happen in the future, is the same gematria as למה, why did something happen in the past. These both connote a lack of trust in Hashem. What is the way to deal with this? בטחון, trusting Hashem. An allusion to this is that the word בטחון also has a gematria of 75.


The Pasuk states כגמל עלי אמו, like a suckling child at his mother’s side.[7] An infant doesn’t have any worries. He knows his mother will feed him, clean him and take care of all his needs. This is how it is under Hashem’s care — like an infant who totally relies on his mother without any worries. One who has trust in Hashem has this type of care.


In Havdala, we say the pasuk, הנה א-ל ישועתי אבטח ולא אפחד, indeed Hashem is my salvation; I shall trust and not fear.[8] If we add the gematria of אבטח, which is 20, with the sum of חכמה, 73 (referring to a person offering Hashem his own calculations of what he thinks is best), we get 93. 93 is the gematria of אפחד. That is to say, when one injects his own חכמה, then all he gets is “fear” (אפחד), since he is not completely trusting in Hashem. However, if א-ל ישועתי, then אבטח ולא אפחד meaning he will trust without fear.


Why do we begin Havdala with these words? Because after a worry-free Shabbos, we are entering the weekday that can contain that which may cause anxiety and worry. Therefore, these words are apt at this juncture.

[1] The Chofetz Chaim would remark that people worry that they might not have with what to live. They should rather worry that they don’t have with what to die (Chayei Hamussar, 1, p. 117).

[2] Yeshaya 28:16. The simple meaning is, “Let the believer not expect it soon.”

[3] The Derech Pikudecha (Lo Saaseh 34, Chelek Hadibur, 4) writes a subcategory of murder is if a person allows himself to be distressed and worried when it isn’t a mitzvah as he is weakening himself.

[4] Worrying is like a rocking chair. It keeps you moving but gets you nowhere. Concern is recognizing the problem and calmly taking steps to deal with it. Man needs to be concerned about his problems, not worried.

[5] See Sota 48a, Rashi s.v. anshei. For many, constant worry about the future removes their happiness. They should keep in mind, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrow. It empties today of strength.”

[6] Shaar Habitachon, chapter 1. In this way we can translate צדיק באמונתו יחיה (Chavakuk 2:4): the emuna will be the cause of living since the proper attitude has curative powers (see Chochma Umussar, 2, p. 291).

[7] Tehillim 131:2.

[8] Yeshaya 12:2.

Author of Four Books including the recently released “Amazing Shabbos Insights”

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