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You Never Lose with Faith

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This is what the LORD says:

"Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives."

"But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him."
- Jeremiah 17:5-7

The Torah portion for this week is a double reading, Behar-Bechukotai from Leviticus 25:1-27:34. Behar means "on the mountain," and Bechukotai means "my decrees." The Haftorah is from Jeremiah 16:19-17:14.

We can probably all think about people who have gone through some very difficult life challenges. It could be an illness, the loss of a loved one, financial challenges, or a fragile marriage. Some of these people hung onto their faith throughout their entire ordeal; yet even so, they did not receive the results that they desired. And still, these people didn't walk away from the experience bitter and dejected; rather they came away with even greater faith in God. How is that possible?

The reason is because faith is not about believing that we will receive what we want. Faith is believing that what will happen is for the best. Faith is believing that God is good, that God cares about us, and that He will do what is best for us. Faith is knowing that while we can't always understand God's ways, we can trust them.

This is why a person can go through a difficult test in life, end up with results that he or she did not desire, and yet still feel closer to God than ever before. The Jewish sages teach that the choice to have faith is rewarded with greater faith and closeness to God. As it says in this week's Haftorah, "But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him." How is the one who has faith blessed? He or she is blessed with more faith, more peace, more joy, a greater closeness to God - regardless of the results of his or her prayers.

On the other hand, people can choose to put their faith in humanity. Moreover, people can indeed achieve the results they were looking for. Doctors cured loved ones, friends got them a new job. However, these people will miss the truth that it was God who did these great things for them and that those people involved in helping them were merely God's messengers. They might have gotten what they wanted, but Jeremiah says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh . . ."

Ultimately, these people have won the battle but lost the war because their "heart turns away from the LORD." Their trust in humanity has created distance from God. This is the "curse" of trusting in humanity. It pushes a person farther from the Lord.

I want to encourage us to hold tightly to our faith whether things work out the way we want or not. We never lose with faith. Either we get what we asked for or we get something even better - closeness to God. This kind of closeness and deep faith is an invaluable gift; one that will make our entire lives more peaceful, joyful, and meaningful.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

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