Being Fearless

Question

I admit that recent rockets from Gaza, in addition to other world events, frighten me. What does Judaism teach about dealing with fear?

, 10 months

Answers

  1. Before sharing an insight from our Rabbinical teachers throughout history, allow me to quote my aunt from Czechoslovakia who survived Auschwitz: “And to be afraid, it helps?”

    There is a verse in Psalms which our Sages teach us is central to understanding how we should view fear and terror: “He will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast in trusting God.” (Psalms 112:7)

    Our Talmudic Sages point out a fascinating feature of this verse. The verse has the same meaning whether one reads the first part first (no fear) and the last part last (trusting God) or if one reads the last part before the first! The message is the same — lack of fear will result from trust in God.

    The concepts of fearlessness and trust in God go hand-in-hand. Why is this so?

    A person who trusts in God recognizes that events of the world are Divinely ordained. “Everything is in the hand of Heaven except for the fear (awe) of Heaven” our Sages teach. This person is therefore confident that even something which appears to be bad should not really trouble him. When a person chooses to trust in God there is no place for fear and anxiety, since everything is from God and nothing can be truly bad.

    Ideally, a person who sees a world of suffering should nevertheless remain righteous and steadfast, with his heart attuned to God. If he does so he will understand that even his problems are not truly “problems”. Difficult events that “life throws at him” are his portion from Above and he will have the strength and wisdom to face life’s challenges with a positive attitude.

    But for a person who is discontent with the world, feelings of fear, worry and depression surround him in life. One cannot be at peace and feel content and positive without learning to flow with life and accept the conditions of the events of the real world.

    So, there is the ideal and the reality. Ideally, Judaism teaches there is no reason to fear: “He will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast in trusting God.” This lack of fear depends on us choosing to be righteous and trust that whatever occurs is truly and ultimately for the good.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team