Emunah and Bitachon – The two elements of faith

In Germany there is an interesting system for buying fresh cut flowers. There are huge fields where different varieties of flowers are grown. People go to these fields, pick the particular type of flowers that they prefer and then simply pay for them by depositing the purchase price in an unattended cash box. The growers have faith and confidence that people who pick the flowers will be trustworthy enough to pay for them. This system of “Pick Here – Pay Here,” is a paradigm for the biblical concept of “faith.”

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The Scriptures clearly teach that without faith it is impossible to please Adonai. (Hebrews 11:1) However, the English word translated “faith” does not completely convey it’s significance. The concept of faith is best expressed by two Hebrew words emunah אמונה and bitachon בטחון.

Emunah is a statement of belief – I believe that God is love.
(The farmer believes that people are trustworthy.)

Bitachon is an expression of confidence – Because I believe that God is love I am able to confidently trust that God loves me.

(Since the farmer believes that people are trustworthy, he is confident that his customers will pay for the flowers using an unattended cash box.)

The concept of faith extends beyond our relationship with HaShem. Faith is also an important element in maintaining healthy personal relationships.

The akedah or the binding of Yitzchak demonstrates Avraham exercising emunah and bitachon in the following relationships: with HaShem, with his servants, and with his son Yitzchak. (Beresheit 22:1-19)

Avraham was a man who had become accustomed to hearing and obeying the voice of God so when he heard God asking him to sacrifice his son Yitzchak he responded with hineni (Here I am) a phrase that expresses emunah and bitachon. He believed that God could raise the dead – emunah. Consequently he was confident that he could trust God to raise his son Yitzchak from the dead – bitachon. (Beresheit 22:1- 4)

By trusting [emunah and bitachon] , Avraham, when he was put to the test, offered up Yitz’chak as a sacrifice. Yes, he offered up his only son, he who had received the promises, to whom it had been said, “What is called your ‘seed’ will be in Yitz’chak.” For he had concluded that God could even raise people from the dead! And, figuratively speaking, he did so receive him. – Hebrews 11:17-19, Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

When a person demonstrates on a consistent basis that he has faith in God it follows that the members of his household, friends, and coworkers will trust – have faith – in his judgement and ability to hear from HaShem.

I am sure that Avraham’s servants understood the implications of their journey. Yet when Avraham told his servants “ “Stay here with the donkey. I and the boy will go there, worship and return to you,” ” they did not challenge Avraham because in my opinion they were 100% confident (bitachon) that their master had heard from God. (Beresheit 22:5)

At the end of this story we find Avraham’s servants confidently waiting for their master and his son Yitzchak to return. (Beresheit 22:19)

Children learn to have faith in their parent’s judgment if they see a steady pattern of Godly character exemplified in their household. Godly behavior also opens the door for one’s children to also learn to trust in God.After three days Yitzchak asks a poignant question.

Yitz’chak spoke to Avraham his father: “My father?” He answered, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “I see the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Avraham replied, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son”; and they both went on together. – Beresheit 22:7-8

The dynamics of this brief conversation indicate that Yitzchak was confident that his father Avraham had heard from God because they both went on [to the place of sacrifice] together.

Additionally their conversation implies that Yitzchak also believed that God could (emunah) and would (bitachon) provide a lamb. It is evident that faith of Yitzchak’s parents Avraham and Sarah was alive in him.

Shaul of Tarsus when writing to Timothy reminds him of the following:

I recall your sincere trust (emunah and bitachon), the same trust that your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice had first; and I am convinced that you too now have this trust. – 2 Timothy 1:5 (CJB)

To reiterate, like Timothy, Yitzchak’ faith had been transmitted to him by his parent’s Avraham and Sarah.

And I also believe that because of their Godly behavior his parent’s faith was imparted the members of their entire household – the souls that they had gotten in Haran. (Beresheit 12:5)

There are never any absolute guarantees but I can assure you that the best way to share and spread your faith and bring shalom bayit or peace to your household is to consistently demonstrate emunah and bitachon in everything that you say and do.

The next time that the Lord Yeshua speaks to you please respond with emunah and bitachon by saying: Hineni – Here I am Lord send me! – Yeshayahu 6:8

Those who have ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit [of Yeshua] is saying to [His Servants!] – Revelation 2:29

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Yosef Koelner was born in Chicago and raised in a Jewish home that his parents characterized as “Orthodox”. At birth he was given two first names, an English one, Harvey, and a Hebrew name, Yosef, which was given to him in remembrance of his mother’s deceased brother, Chaim Yosef. Rabbi Yosef’s education includes but is not limited to a BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Illinois State University and a MA in Jewish Studies from Gratz College as well as a Doctor of Practical Ministry from Wagner Leadership Institute. He also graduated from Ulpan Alef (Hebrew language studies) Katsrin, Israel. Additional studies include The University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and an Orthodox Yeshivah in Tzfat Yisrael. His ministry spans four decades and he is currently the Rabbi of Kehilat Bet Avinu. He can be contacted at ravko@ix.netcom.com