Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.
— Proverbs 29:25
I have a friend who made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel a few years ago, and she talks about how nervous she was when she first arrived. In fact, one time she was so scared that it got her into trouble when, in reality, there was nothing to be nervous about. My friend was finishing up a tour in an Arab neighborhood and driving her car towards the exit when she saw a group of men coming toward her car.
She was sure they were armed and were coming to kill her. She was so frightened that she slammed on her brakes causing her friends driving behind her to crash right into her, totaling her car. Thank God, no one was hurt. And those dangerous men? They turned out to be schoolchildren walking home from school.
Proverbs teaches: “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” The original Hebrew translates the verse slightly differently. It says, “Man’s fear will prove a snare . . . ” On a simple level this verse is warning us that reacting with irrational fear to a situation can prove more dangerous than the situation itself — just like my friend’s story. Yet, if we have steadfast faith in God and remain calm, cool, and collected, we will be much more likely to emerge unharmed.
However, the Jewish sages take this idea even further. They teach that a person who is unduly fearful will become susceptible to what he or she fears. Even if it is an outlandish circumstance that a person unreasonably fears, that unlikely scenario becomes more likely when feared for no reason. In contrast, a person who trusts in God attains protection from even everyday potentially dangerous scenarios. Even commonplace accidents lose their grip on the person who trusts God.
Simply put, fear makes us vulnerable while faith fortifies us with Divine protection. Just as we might take extra vitamins to boost our immune system, we all need to gather extra doses of faith to bolster our spiritual protection.
God promises to be our refuge and our fortress. But we need to turn to Him – we need to head toward His protective wings – if we want to be sheltered by Him. Today and every day, let’s fortify ourselves with faith. Let’s banish fear from our hearts knowing that we are protected by the most powerful force in the Universe. Nothing can happen to us without His permission, and the more we rely on Him, the more He is our strength.
The more we trust God, the greater our protection will be, and the more we have faith, the more we will witness God’s wondrous faithfulness to us.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President