Sharing Torah Insights

Nothing to fear…

Posted on כ״ה באייר ה׳תש״ע (May 9, 2010) | in Bechukotai, Behar | by

וְנָתַתִּי שָׁלוֹם בָּאָרֶץ, וּשְׁכַבְתֶּם וְאֵין מַחֲרִיד. וְהִשְׁבַּתִּי חַיָּה רָעָה, מִן-הָאָרֶץ, וְחֶרֶב, לא-תַעֲבר בְּאַרְצְכֶם

“And I will place peace in the land, you shall repose there; there will be nothing to scare you. I will restrain any dangerous animal from the land, a sword will not cross your land.” (Vayikra 26:6)

This פסוק comes amidst the ברוכות that are promised to בני ישראל if they keep the obligations that are set forth in the Torah. What struck me about this פסוק was the statement  וְאֵין מַחֲרִיד, “nothing will scare you”. One who is fully observant fears only Hashem and is cognizant that any “scary” event or object in this world is a reflection of His will. What one is obligated to fear is that they have not been completely compliant with the מצות and that Hashem will send corrective measures (in order to spur one to fix what they have done incorrectly). Since however the ברוכות describe a state in which all of the מצות are being completely kept, this statement seems redundant. The Jewish people are already fulfilling the mitzvah of ‘יראת ה; nothing external frightens them. Why then is this assurance included?

I think that the answer lies in the root of the verb מַחֲרִיד itself: חרד connotes trembling, a physical manifestation of fear. While it is possible to reach a high level of ‘יראת ה on an intellectual level, the body still has its natural instincts: when confronted by a menacing animal or an enemy soldier, the body’s natural reaction is to tremble. What this pasuk is imparting is that when we are fulfilling our complete potential, Hashem will not cause situations in which physical fear is necessary. Since we are so close to Him already, we do not need an external event to bring us closer.

How do we apply this idea to our lives today when we possess barely an inkling of true יראת שמים? I think one lesson is that the closer we are to Hashem and His מצות, the less the physical world can scare us. The more we can step back from what is initially frightening or frustrating, and consider how Hashem is using it as a vehicle to draw us closer to Him, the more confident and capable עבדי המלך we can become.

Shabbat Shalom, Allison

Credit: Machon Mamre for the Hebrew text. Much of the ideas are based on the book Garden of Emunah, by Reb Shalom Arush.

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