"What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me." Job 3:25
A joke is told about a couple who had been married for many years. During that time, the wife was constantly suspicious that a robber was breaking into their home in the middle of the night. Time and time again she would wake her husband and have him check out whatever noise she had heard. One time, much to his surprise, the husband did find a thief standing in their living room. As the thief turned to run, the man called after him, "Wait! You can't go yet! My wife has been expecting you for 30 years!"
While the joke makes us chuckle, the truth behind it is less jovial. As we read in the book of Job: "What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me." The Jewish sages teach that when a person is afraid of something, he is already subjugated to that very thing. That is a pretty scary thought we are most susceptible to what we fear! However, when we choose faith over fear, we retain our strength.
A well-known Jewish saying that has been turned into a famous song includes the following lyrics: "The whole world is a very narrow bridge but the main thing is not to fear at all." Indeed, life holds a lot of potential danger. The very act of living on a day-to-day basis entails great risk. However, God did not put us here in order to live in fear, but rather to rise above fear and live in faith. The Evil One, also known as Satan, wants us to be afraid because fear makes us weak and vulnerable. But, "blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water . . . It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17:7-8).
I once read about an interesting phenomenon that illustrates this idea. A certain kind of bird dwells on high trees, and there is a particular kind of snake that feeds on these birds. How does the lowly snake catch the bird? It makes a sound, and when the bird looks, it bares its fangs in a show of rage. The bird gets so frightened that instead of flying away, it freezes and falls over like a stone directly into the snake's mouth.
This is the danger of fear. I want to encourage us all to rise above fear and choose faith instead. Faith is the set of wings that can get us out of any dangerous situation. Let us not waste our days in empty worry but instead trust God for safety and prosperity.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President