Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Vilna Goan (Gra) On Mishlei- How to Believe In G-D

The Gra says something very interesting on the pasuk in Mishlei (3:5) that says, "Trust in Hashem with all your heart and do not rely upon your own understanding." This pasuk seems to be telling us that a Jew should just believe in G-D without any reservations. Does this mean that we should not use our brains to figure out our own path to trust in G-D? Does there really need to be uniformity and zombie like devotion?

The Gra says that the idea behind the beginning of the pasuk is that we, as jews, need to create a complete devotion to G-D and not just a partial devotion. This is clear in my mind because if you don't have a complete devotion to G-D then how can you truly believe? Wouldn't it be hard to believe in a G-D that you only partially trust?

The latter part of the pasuk, the part that says do not trust your own understanding is the problematic part. The Gra says that a person should not say that they believe in G-D through their own knowledge and wisdom. One can not believe in G-D through their own knowledge, but rather they must believe through their heart.

Fortunately, one of the students of the Gra wrote a commentary on this and explains his teacher. The student says that it is obvious that one must use his own mind to come to a belief and trust in G-D. What the Gra is saying is that one must not only rely on his knowledge, there is a heart, or emotional, aspect that must be involved.

A person can not just be a cold and logically driven servant of G-D, otherwise he will miss out on the beauty of believing and trusting in G-D. It is similar to a parent's relationship to their child. If the child has a cold and unemotional relationship with their parent then there can never be a close relationship. This is true by the Jewish people and G-D as well. Jewish people need to put their emotions as well as logic into their religion otherwise they will not be able to fully connect to G-D and trust Him with full hearts.

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