משמועה רעה לא יירא נכון לבו בטח בהיי

He won’t fear bad news;
his heart is steady, trusting G-d. 
[1] [*]

The Talmud concurs:

“It once happened that Hillel the Elder was coming from a journey and heard a great cry in the city. He said, ‘I have trust [מובטח] that this isn’t coming from my house.’
Of him, the K’tuvim [Holy Writings] say, ‘He won’t fear bad news; his heart is steady, trusting [בטח] G-d’.” [2]

In the midst of apparent catastrophe, Hillel is supremely calm; he doesn’t “fear bad news.” He says that he “trusts.” The rabbis associate [בטח], the 3-letter Hebrew root of the word, with trusting (same linguistic root) G-d — it’s most common implication — and tell us that Hillel is exemplifying a Newtonian-like law, expressed in “Scripture”: trusting G-d gives peace of mind.  

Almost 1,000 years later, the Hovot ha-Levavot (“Duties of the Heart”) observes the same:

“Among the wordly advantages of trust [בטחון] are to be found: a heart at rest …he [she] rejoices, whatever the situation…” [3]

And 1,000 years later still, the same peace of mind is affirmed; unchanging, like any law: 

“The [person] of faith is never overcome by worry or fear, for he [or she] relies upon the Divine Mind in moments of difficulty and exigency…” [4] 

Rabbi S. R. Hirsch gives further cognitive insight into this Psalm’s words: “…happiness consists not only in…that things are well with [you] at the moment, but in that [you] can calmly face whatever the future might bring…Fear is so alien to [you] that, even when danger poses an immediate threat to [your] own person, when foes oppress [you] personally, [you] will gaze upon them calmly and unflinchingly.” [5]

Have we forgotten that true, sincere faith brings incomparable peace of mind? Have we left this source of peace unrecognized and ignored, like a diamond in a dustbin; like a holy place left in shambles?

Have we come to believe that such peace of mind is the treasure of other traditions, but not ours?

Our peace isn’t lost. It’s hidden; waiting to be found and reinstated in our hearts.

Like Hillel, let’s give less attention to our fears, and more to G-d’s Presence and Willingness to help us.

“[G-d,] You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is kept on You because he trusts [בטוח] You.” [6]

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[1] Psalm 112:7
[2] B’rachot 60a; Traditional Press, NY, NY; from the gemorrah to mishnah 9:1 [**]
[3] Rabbi Bahya ibn Pakuda; Duties of the Heart; Feldheim Publishers; vol. 1, p. 291,3
[4] Lichtenstein, Rabbi Morris; Jewish Science and Health; p. 135
[5] Hirsch, Rabbi Samson Raphael, trans. and comm.; The Psalms; Feldheim Publishers; p. 293
[6] Yishiyahu/Isaiah 26:3
* For additional discussion of this verse and topic, see also:  http://www.ravkooktorah.org/PSALM_112.html
** For discussion of Mishnah 9:1, see: https://rabbielimallon.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/blessing-g-d-%d7%90/