Judaism-Unfiled: Stupid Emunah



That’s the only thing we’re missing right now to make this reality into a real good movie: Corona victims coming back from the dead and eating the living.




I’ve found that there are currently four groups of thought within the frum world right now. 


The first believes that Moshiach is simply around the corner.  All we have to do is sit and wait and he will save us from all our troubles.


The second believes that the non-Jewish world and their lack of values/non-religious are somehow responsible for this.  And “isn’t it ironic/beautiful, that so many non-religious Jews are being forced to ‘keep Shabbos,' when so many of them (in Israel) have been pushing to open more bus lines on Shabbos?" With that mentality as well... you can sit and wait this out.


The third believe that they are above all this and have "emunah" that because they are good, frum people, they will not be affected.  And besides…what do the government and doctors know?


The fourth believe that something big is going on.  We don’t know what.  But we have what to fear, whether it be the virus or the fallout afterwards.  Is it Moshiach?  Hopefully, but…we’ve been hopeful for centuries now, and we simply have no idea what’s going on.  Hence, each individual should work on some aspect of themselves and do whatever hishtadlus they need to do to stay healthy.


I said this over to a certain talmid chacham the other day and he quipped, “I’m just worried that the first three groups, will end up killing the fourth!”


I received a copy of a very well-written answer from Rav Aron Moss in Australia.  Here’s the first line that he wrote, that sums it up:


“It is not that we have lost our sense of certainty. We have lost our illusion of certainty. We never had it to begin with. This could be majorly unsettling, or amazingly liberating.”


To illustrate his answer, I would compare it to a person who’s been driving for 20 years.  Yes, here and there, he is fearful of this driver or that driver, or perhaps he’s a little too tired.  But overall, he’s not afraid when he enters his car.  Finally, he learns that for the past 20 years, somebody thousands of miles away has been controlling his car the entire time!  Every time he turned the wheel, it wasn’t HE who was turning it, rather, it was somebody else.  Suddenly, he doesn’t want to enter the car!  He’s afraid!  He certainly can’t trust the person controlling the car from such a long distance!


Hashem has been controlling things for thousands of years. He was also controlling things five months ago. He’s also controlling things now.  What’s the difference?  For the past several decades, each of us thought that WE were controlling things. 


A few weeks ago, my wife was told an inspirational story that she read in one of those “emunah” books.  Something didn’t sit right with my wife, and within two seconds of research, she found the story was completely fabricated.  This is not the first time she’s caught this.


She was speaking of this to a friend of hers from the States (without mentioning the title of the book) and her friend said that one of the leading rabbeim in the States said that regarding those emunah  books (he named this one by name), one should assume that many, if not all, are false stories.


Now, she, nor I, never liked these “emunah” books, because they are all stories about people who did this or that mitzvah and BAM!  Hashem changed things around for them, and they got what they wanted.  This is not emunah.  Having emunah means, “Everything that Hashem does for me is for my best, whether I see it or not."  It does not mean, “I just need to do this or that and it will act as a secret code, which will control Hashem to do my will."  Yes, mitzvos serve as merit and can help change one’s predicament, but, they are not a guarantee that you will get something, simply because YOU think it’s for your best.


My wife, who’s in the writing world, wrote to the author of this book.  She pointed out the fallacy of the story and the danger of writing false stories and quite frankly, many of these stories, giving false hope to people who are desperate to see hope in their lives.  It was a nice, professional letter.  He wrote back (something to the point of): “I do try to insure that stories I hear about are true. When I see them written up in periodicals or other books I usually trust them. Will try harder to verify when possible."

Translation…he’s not planning on changing his tune.


When speaking to my rav about this, he told me the following story that he heard directly from the person.  He’s close with a talmid chacham who used to be the driver for Rav Eliashuv.  At one point, a book came out about Rav Eliashuv and he was speaking to Rav Eliashuv about it.  “It should be burned," Rav Eliashuv said, “Most of the stories aren’t even true." "What if those stories still give inspiration to those who need it?  Isn’t that worth it?”


Rav Eliashuv answered, “Inspiration based on falsehood, is not inspiration." 


These are trying times, which, according to the professionals, are not going to be over any time soon.  This is a time where one’s emunah can rise high or fall low.  The first three groups that I mention fall under the category of “Stupid Emunah” or “Emunah based on falsehood."


Sitting around convinced that THIS IS IT, means that you think that you or your source is a prophet and knows exactly what Hashem is doing.  That is false.  Our job is not to bring Moshiach.  It’s to improve our relationship with Hashem.  Let Him worry about Moshiach.  Is this a "stepping-stone" to Moshiach?  I believe so.  Is this IT?  I hope so.  But maybe not?  We’ve been hoping for a long, long time, and have gone through quite a bit before.  And what will happen to those people who believe THIS IS IT, and in another year, he's still not here?  What a terrible thing!  They put all their 'emunah' in one basket....


Sitting around convinced that this is all because of the non-Jewish world or the non-religious is just as stupid.  Again, you’re making yourself a prophet.  And like the above group, you think that you don’t have to do anything since it’s not your fault.


Sitting around believing that you are above all this.  Well, I really don’t know what to say about that.  All the major, leading rabbanim have been coming out and saying to follow the guidelines laid out by the government.  Even at one point, in the beginning, one of the leading rabbanim was telling people to keep the boys schools/yeshivos open, so Torah can be learned.  Yet, at the same time he was still telling people that outside of that, the rules of the government should be followed.  (Shortly after, after speaking directly to government health officials and learning the statistics of the virus, did he agree to shut down the yeshivos.) 


The only proper thing to do is to take this seriously, and instead of looking for "quick fixes" or "quick answers," to sit and focus on yourself and your family and what YOU can do to improve yourself for real.


Throw away the silly "emunah" books and pick up a real one that will help you internalize that whatever Hashem is doing, it’s for our best.