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Home » The Shul Connection » DVAR TORAH


DVAR TORAH – by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin


The Torah states: “You shall (trust) wholeheartedly in the Almighty, your G-d” (Deuteronomy 18:13).

We are enjoined to trust in G-d, but to what degree do we have an obligation to make a normal human effort and what is considered a lack of trust in G-d?

The question arises regarding testing people before marriage for being carriers of Tay-Sachs disease. Some people wonder whether such testing is not contrary to the trust we are required to have in Divine Providence — why search for problems when in all probability none exist?

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, of blessed memory, (who was one of the foremost authorities on Jewish law) clarified this point: “Although the percentage of infants born with this disease is small and one might be apt to apply the verse: ‘You shall trust wholeheartedly in the Almighty,’ (which Rashi interprets as meaning that one should not delve into the future) in light of the fact that a simple test has been developed for this, one who does not make use of it is like one who shuts his eyes to what can clearly be seen … and since the birth of such a child, G-d forbid, causes great anguish … it is prudent for all who are considering marriage to undergo this test.”

Having trust in the Almighty will give a person peace of mind and serenity. However, one should never use a claim of trust in the Almighty to condone laziness or rash behavior. There is a thin line between the virtue of trusting in God and the fault of carelessness and lack of taking responsibility.

The story is told of a man who lived by a river. A policeman warns him to evacuate because of a flood warning. The man rejects the offer and says, “I have perfect trust in the Almighty to save me.” As the water rises, a person in a boat offers to take him to safety. The man again replies with his proclamation of trust and refuses the ride. Finally, as the man is sitting on his roof, a helicopter comes to rescue him; again, the man proclaims his trust and refuses the rescue. The water rises; the man drowns and is finally standing in judgment before the Almighty. “God, I had perfect trust in you — how could you let me down?” The Almighty replies, “But, my son, I sent the policeman, the boat and the helicopter!”

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