Don’t confuse faith with trust:

Studying each soul attribute individually involves defining its characteristics. This understanding may also lead one to better recognize the experience when it occurs.  Once the basic framework of the soul’s structure is understood, one can then turn to examine how a specific power interacts with other soul powers. How does action affect wisdom? How does my intellectual perspective change when I’m inspired and motivated?

Like organs in the body, each soul power has a specific way of functioning that interacts within the larger system of soul powers. With some emotions –such as love and hate— the movements are clear. Love involves a strong attraction toward something, wherein the soul stretches outward; fear creates the opposite movement—recoiling. But when it comes to certain soul powers/emotions, the borders can become blurred.

A common misconception is that trust is a higher form of faith, or that trust flows from faith automatically. But within Jewish literature, the powers of faith (emunah) and trust (bitchon) are described precisely. While one cannot possess trust without first possessing faith, someone can possess faith, but lack trust. What then is the difference?

During critical times—when the outcome is yet undecided—someone with pure faith may reason as follows: “Everything is in the hands of God. I’ll try my best, and if things turn out well, I’ll be happy. If they don’t, there must be a reason why I had to go through this.” This sense of relaxation stems from the recognition of a higher power and an acceptance of one’s fate. The internal benefit is freedom from the need to control the outcome, an inner calm.


“It’s all good”


What does a person who declares “it’s all good” mean by this? The colloquial expression “it’s all good” is often intended to convey optimism, that there is no need to worry. No matter what happens, everything will be fine— because “everything is happening the way it’s supposed to happen for me.”

In kaballah there is an equivalent idea—“Nothing bad descends from above.”  This means that blessings come from above, packaged in two forms; hidden good and revealed good. Hidden good means that what appears in the moment to be negative—involving suffering or punishment— is, in fact, a deeper closeness to God[1] TK. That benefit is now masked, but will manifest in the future. This is faith.

Trust speaks with a different voice. In addition to recognizing how every detail is being guided, or that everything happens for a reason, trust involves a confidence and  certainty that things will turn out well—not simply “for the best” in the long run—but in the way that can tangibly be appreciated. This quality within the soul is called betachon.

The view that “it’s all good” or “this is meant to happen” applies to what already happened. But when it comes to what will happen in the future, there is another perspective— a trust that things will turn out for revealed good—good that is immediately recognizable. Faith is about acceptance; trust is about projection. While both emotions can lead to peace of mind, trust is more specific and active. It is also more difficult to attain than faith.



Someone with plenty of self-confidence may seem not to benefit from the additional trust in G-d. To be sure, they may well be successful without nurturing the spiritual dimension. The soul power of trust kicks in when fear and doubt tend to trespass on to the mind and emotions. Likewise, there are times when one regrets past mistakes, and needs to turn things around—but is not confident in their means to overcome inner obstacles, or in divine forgiveness.

Bitachon injects a distinct flavor into the inner struggle to provide a new picture of success. This often requires a rewiring of one’s natural thinking. At the end of the process, there is a deeper joy that comes after you might not make it, but you move forward anyway, and find yourself on the other side.

[1] Similarly, in the story of creation (genesis), the sages comment (see Zohar I:14a) on the words “tov meod“, meaning “very good“. “Tov” (“good”) refers to the Angel of Life; “meod‘ (“very”) refers to the Angel of Death. The dark angel is very good in the sense of infinite goodness without limit and boundary. This goodness is not revealed or grasped on the physical plane -and finds expression in what appears to us as misfortune. This idea is expressed in the words “Ya-H [the divine name] has stricken me”( Psalms 118:18). This name is the beginning of the Tetragramaton [Y-H-V-H], i.e. the beginning of its revelation. It represents that fact that it has not yet reached a state of revelation and its goodness is not perceptible.


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