In Judaism, we are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. But what does that mean? How do we put this into practice in our everyday lives? The concept of Emunah—which means “faith”—is central to the Jewish Way of Life. It is also incredibly relevant to anyone who wishes to find purpose in their life and grow spiritually.
Here, Rabbi Samuel Waldman will take a closer look at this elusive concept and how it can help you on your journey toward wholeness and fulfillment.
What is Emunah?
We asked Rabbi Samuel Waldman, who has been a religious education for more than thirty years, to explain us, what Emunah represents.
Rabbi Samuel Waldman: Emunah, the quality of faith, is the fundamental quality of all strong human relationships. It is a relationship with something greater than ourselves and something that we cannot see or touch. It is the invisible power that binds us to the world and to each other. Faith is not only a relationship with the Creator, but also with the creation. Faith is the belief that the Creator is more than what we see. It is the belief that the invisible, infinite Creator is also part of the visible, finite creation. Moses, in the service of the Creator, was given the responsibility to teach the Israelites Emunah—the ability to believe in this unseen power. He told them not to make images or portraits of the Creator, because they could not see Him. If they did that, they would not have Emunah; they would only have an image of Him, not Him Himself.
What happens when you have a lack of Emunah?
Rabbi Samuel Waldman: When we lack Emunah, we only have an image of a God that is limited by our own perception.
A lack of Emunah leads to skepticism, cynicism, and denial. When we believe in something, but do not love it, we only see its faults and limitations. We cannot see its potential for greatness. We will only strive to make it “good” enough for us to accept it. When we lack Emunah, we will only love what we can see, and we will reject what we cannot see. Without Emunah, people will usually choose what they can see and feel over what they cannot see and feel. The things that we can see and feel are limited to the five senses. The things that we cannot see and feel are infinite. Usually, we will choose finite things over infinite things. We will prefer to talk to people, read books, and listen to music, rather than be connected to the infinite Creator. When this happens, people are not happy. They are like robots who are only connected to the world around them.
How to Develop Emunah?
Rabbi Samuel Waldman: The ability to have Emunah is built up through a process of discovery and discovery. In itself, finding the answers to the questions we ask ourselves is a discovery. We must discover for ourselves what is right and what is true for us. The answers we seek will be different for every person on this earth. Finding that truth is the best way to build Emunah. If you accept what is right for yourself, others will accept you. If you accept what is right for others, they will accept you. We must also discover what is right and true for us as individuals and as a society. The answers to these questions will be different for every person on this earth. Finding that truth is the best way to build Emunah. If you accept who you are, people will accept you. If you accept what is right for society, then society will also accept you.
Faith is the ability to believe in something we cannot see. Love is the willingness to give in the face of what we cannot see. When we have a lack of faith, we only see the faults in the things we love. When we lack love, we only see the faults in the people we love. Faith and love are two very different things that must be developed in order for a person to have an Emunah. It is important to first discover for yourself who you are as a person and what is right for society. Once you have done that, you will be able to build Emunah in your life.
About the author:
Samuel Waldman has an extensive career as a religious educator.
In 2002, he published Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Convincing Evidence to the Truths of Judaism. In the field of kiruv, this book is considered a classic.
His teaching career spanned eleven years at Yeshiva Tifereth Moshe Elementary School in Queens. Through his summer camp teaching, Rabbi Samuel Waldman influenced many hundreds of students for over twenty years.
Recently, he embarked on an ambitious project. He has started a blog, called The Wonders of Creation, that highlights intelligent creations of nature along with showing how many elements of nature clearly demonstrate an Intelligent Creator. In this blog, you’ll learn how many aspects of nature cannot have evolved via evolutionary processes.