They believed in God, but they believed in other forces, too. When Hashem seemed like “the biggest bully on the block” – a terrible way of viewing the Creator – they followed Him. But they always kept their faces looking back toward Mitzrayim, always craving after what Mitzrayim represented while leeching off the holiness of Jewish souls.
The Path of Emuna is fraught with obstacles and stumbling blocks. Any person trodding down that path can find themselves fumbling and bumbling along, and even tripping completely off, landing in a heap to the side.
But as long as they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and get back on the path again despite their scrapes, they’ll be okay.
If they just keep on going, they’ll make it to the end.
Others start out on this path and when they trip off, they lie there in a heap, letting their muscles fall into atrophy.
Others remain at the beginning of the path, running madly in place while juggling twenty large bowling balls (which sometimes fall and crash on their head) and beam with pride about all the hishtadlut they’re doing. (And still others sprint down the wrong path altogether.)
I used to kind of be one of the "jugglers" until Hashem whomped me so hard upside the head, that I was forced to wake up. I call them “hishtadlut heroines” (or “hishtadlus heroines,” depending on your nusach).
These people run from expert to expert, institution to institution, appointment to appointment, consultation to consultation, book to book – and even country to country – in addition to all the hishtadlut they do within their homes.
Now, if a person genuinely needs to go to an expert or consultation or whatever, of course that’s fine. But needless to say, Hashem must be included. He must be taken alongside, so to speak.
And hishtadlut heroines don’t.
They may say they do, they may talk like they do, but when push comes to shove, they just don’t.
And if you decide to drop the act and put your efforts into acknowledging Hashem’s Hand in every aspect of your life, and especially if you try to encourage them to do the same (and I mean encouraging them out of true empathy for their situation in a caring, non-judgmental, gentle way, and not be irritating or pretentious) even only once in something like 3 months after having spent hours and hours listening with genuine empathy to their outpourings and even giving them hands-on assistance in whatever they ask in the hope that it will lighten their burden a bit, it’s shocking how angry or jeering they get (though the confrontation-avoiders ones do it subtly).
And I’m talking about anger and jeering from very good, sincere women.
I found myself coerced into relating to them in the way I am coerced to relate to secular relatives and acquaintances (particularly the atheists):
- I must keep quiet and be very careful not to say any Truth about anything, nor even acknowledge in the vaguest way that there is a Creator.
- I must not even mention by accident something I enjoy about my life that is spiritual.
At the same time, I must respect everything they say and believe, no matter how offensive or just plain wrong.
In short, in their view, they deserve all the rights while I deserve none.
Why, I wondered, was I finding myself coerced to act around so many frum people exactly the same way I was expected to act around atheists?
Enter the Erev Rav Strategy and Its Devastating Effects
Not surprisingly, the hishtadlut heroines were mostly the products of very unhealthy Erev Rav (and/or Esav) upbringings, whether they came from the most frei background or the most “chashuv.”
Very much to their credit, they were determined to overcome their upbringing. And to an admirably large extent, most of them have.
But they won’t bring Hashem all the way into the picture.
Because of the Erev Rav influence permeating society.
We have people, including highly esteemed community leaders, acting frum and using the language of emuna and faking the examples of gedolei Yisrael in order to denigrate and control others, and to feed their addiction to their own kavod.
And this deludes the Jewish neshama into thinking that spending time pouring your heart out to Hashem and scraping off the filth plastering your soul is “finding the easy way out” or “sticking your head in the sand” or "being extreme."
The innocent people who unconsciously reject the Path of Emuna are not at all aware of this insidious delusion and would be shocked and offended if they were told. But really, in their heart, they have been abused into thinking like the Erev Rav for whom Hashem is just another "force" in the Universe (chas v'shalom!) and you only need to jump into formation whenever He comes out as the "biggest bully" on the block, the view of Hashem as a "bully" being the biggest and most soul-destroying lie of all.
Because the Erev Rav see Hashem as a "bully," they cannot see Him as He really is: Good. Compassionate. Merciful. Just.
They cannot see that even the harshest stuff is all for the best and meant for our own good.
They cannot see meaning in suffering, just pain and unfair victimization.
And they cruelly twist the holy Jewish neshama into seeing Hashem as the Erev Rav do.
And so you have really wonderful people with amazing potential sprinting in place while juggling twenty bowling balls and looking down their nose at those stumbling down the Path of Emuna, and encouraging them to follow their “running-in-place-while-juggling” example, and even rebuking them or making fun of them.
Can you imagine what these same “jugglers” could accomplish if only they would channel their incredible strength, vigor, and determination toward advancing down the Path of Emuna?
May we all merit to make it down the right Path.