This week’s Torah reading, Parshas Shoftim, discusses the laws of going to war. Interestingly, one of the instructions the Torah gives is (20:1), “When you shall advance to war against your enemy and you will see horses, chariots and men outnumbering you, do not fear them because your God, who took you out of Egypt is with you!”

This order seems to be difficult to understand. If we were merely instructed to brave the danger and to not display any meekness outwardly, we would be able to easily accept this as a necessary strategy for war. But how can one be commanded to not even feel any fear in his heart as he faces a vicious, mighty army and potential death?

Rabeinu Yonah (Sha’arei Teshuvah 3:32) explains that this is the Mitzvah (commandment) of Bitachon. One should not have fear in battle for he should fill his mind with confidence that God will bring him salvation. In fact, Rabeinu Yonah tells us that this Mitzvah is not referring only to the fear of war, rather it extends to any fear of adversity. Any time we begin to worry about potential danger, we are commanded to rely on God that He will protect us and bring us salvation, and thereby vanquish our fears!

These words of Rabeinu Yonah call for further explanation. How can it be demanded of us to remain calm and confident in God bringing about our salvation? Perhaps we don’t deserve to be saved and our fears will turn out to be well founded? It is undeniable that tragedies do occur. How do we know we will be spared from that which we feel threatened by?

The answer to this can be found in the Medrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Isiah, 473). The Medrash says that when Jews find themselves in trouble, God says to them, “Rely on My Name and it will stand for you, as it says (Isiah 50:10), ‘He will rely on my Name,’ for I will save anyone who relies on my Name.” God has granted His guarantee, that anyone who truly relies on Him with confidence that He will bring him salvation, will indeed be saved!

There was a person in the barracks during the Holocaust who remained steadfast in his reliance on God. While most of the people around him languished in despair about their future, this man persisted in his confidence that God would save him. Despite the cynical comments he received from his fellow inmates over his faith, he continued to share with others his belief that God will see to it that he survives.

One day a selection was made, and he was placed in a group that was sent to the gas chambers. As he was ushered into the gas chambers, one of his colleagues teased him, “So, you still believe that you will survive?” “Yes!” replied the man, and proceeded with a quote from the Talmud (Brachos 10a), “Even if a sharp sword is resting on a person’s neck he should not despair of God’s mercy.”

As the doors to the gas chamber were being closed, the Nazis ran into a problem. In their haste to murder as many Jews as possible, they rounded up too many Jews to fit into the room, and the doors simply could not close. Orders were given to extract the people whose bodies were interfering with the doors closing, and this man was among the people who were subsequently spared from the angel of death. Indeed, in accordance with his unshakable confidence in God’s salvation, this person survived the war.

This concept is not simple to implement, and requires lifelong effort to achieve. It is extremely challenging to build confidence in attaining salvation from God when the odds seem to be going against us. But the fact is that when it comes to God – there no odds. Everything is completely in His hands and He is not governed by statistics or the decisions of man. Once we begin to internalize how everything is completely in His hands, we can begin working on feeling reliant on His infinite kindness to bring us salvation. While life may bring trials which are not so rosy, along with unfortunate outcomes, a different set of rules applies when one is truly reliant with confidence on God that He will come through for him. When one is totally confident that God will spare him, God will not let him down.

While we may be far from reaching the feeling of complete assurance that God will save us in a given situation, there is still much we can achieve in this area. There are many levels of confidence one can have. The more we focus on God’s control and kindness, the more inclined we will be to count on God rescuing us and the more protection we will be granted from Heaven.

By Rabbi Yitzchok Aryeh Strimber (

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