Tag Archives: fear


A Narrow Bridge

November 1, 2016
Orit Esther Riter

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Rebbe Nachman ztk’l teaches, “Kol ha’olam kulo gesher tsar m’od v’haikar lo l’fached klal – that the whole world is a narrow bridge, but the essence is not to be afraid”.

Whether or not we realize it, we are all traveling along a narrow bridge. Where are we heading?  The constricted pathway leads one to find the ‘real me’.  The task of the Jewish people is to discover our G-dliness and reveal our potential – an awesome task indeed!

But Rebbe Nachman teaches that we must continue along the bridge of life despite its narrowness. We should not let fear stop us crossing. This narrow bridge is confined, slender and even cramped, yet it is the road to happiness and must be crossed.

Fear is an emotion that can lead to a number of negative consequences, including:

  • Defensiveness
  • Resistance
  • Anger and blame

What do we fear? Fear may take many forms, including such things as fear of:

  • failure
  • hardships and difficulties and pain, and
  • a lack of assistance.

Why do we fear?

In its essence, fear in anything is a lack of trust and fear in Hashem.

What can we do to overcome fear?

Fear can be overcome through trust in Hashem.

The Rebbe advises us while we are crossing the narrow bridge we should not to look down (symbolizes one’s shortcomings). Rather, we should look up and increase our Yirat Shamayim. As our emuna in Hashem increases, our fears naturally subside.

Ultimately, when we shed our fear, we can more easily achieve our lifetime journey of crossing over our narrowness, insecurities and downfalls in order to reach our G-dly side and bring it out into the world.


Feeling Fearful – Part II

October 21, 2015
Orit Esther Riter

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Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated L’iluy nishmat Omri Levi HY’D, the beautiful neshama of the 19 year old soldier who was brutally killed in last nights terror attack in Be’er Sheva. May his soul bask in the Divine radiance among all of the righteous who have departed from this world, Amen.

There are obvious negative sides to fear which need to be discussed.

One negative repercussion of fear is that it encourages more fear and delusions, thus inhibiting us from living life to the fullest.  For instance, fear of dying may cause a person to stop traveling.  Fear of becoming sick may bring a person to such paranoia that he will be hesitant to touching surfaces for fear of germs causing him become ill.

However, on a spiritual realm, fear distances us from Hashem by convincing us that we are alone and that Hashem has chas v’Shalom abandoned us.  This thinking builds barriers in our connection to Hashem disabling us from seeing and accepting Hashem’s promise that He will keep the Jewish people safe. Indeed, the truth that Hashem will never forsake us fails to reassure us if we are tightly enclosed in fearful thoughts.

All fear emanates from weakened emuna.  Thus, internalizing the knowledge that anything that happens is only Hashem’s will is the first step to putting a person back in touch with truthful reality.  Yet, this step is not sufficient.  We must also internalize the truth that everything is from Hashem and is thus for our best.  We can use our gift of free will to uplift our fears and replace them with emuna.

Though Hashem’s presence shines brightly, it is unseen. In contrast, the tangible perception of nature is actually an illusion.  Concentrating on the thought that Hashem is always with us and is in control of everything is the antidote to fear.



Feeling Fearful – Part I

October 20, 2015
Orit Esther Riter

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Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated L’iluy nishmat Shlomo ben Joya a’h, my dear step father. May his soul bask in the Divine radiance among all of the righteous who have departed from this world, Amen.
Fear is a powerful emotion.  Every feeling and emotion we have was created deliberately by Hashem and retains some aspect of positive benefit, including the emotion of fear.  Thus, we can use any fear we experience to our advantage.

First, fear can protect us since it causes us to proceed with caution. In situations of danger, fear enables us to protect ourselves and our families, and to escape evil.  The word ‘fear’ in Hebrew ‘yirah’ which can also be translated as ‘awe’ coming from the word ‘ra’ah’ which means to ‘see.’  In this sense, seeing Hashem’s power leads us to awe of Hashem and awakens us to spiritually grow.  This ‘awe’ deepens our awareness of Hashem and causes us to reach out to Him via intense tefillah and devotion. It enables us to internalize the truth that we can only rely on Him. The Ba’al Shem Tov HaKadosh teaches that Hashem sent fear out of love to stir us with Heavenly awe, so that we continuously turn to Him with yearning to become G-dly.

Fear can awaken yirat Shamayim when internalized correctly. Fear enables Hashem’s stern justice to bring the world to its ultimate purpose. Finally, the reality of the fear is Heavenly sent as a means to reflect on the truthful reality of life that there is only One to fear.

An amazing segula to help put fear in context is to recite the last lines of Adon Olam,‘B’Yado afkid ruchi, be’et ishan ve’aera, v’im ruchi geviyati, Hashem li ve’lo ira(Into Hashem’s hands I entrust my spirit when I sleep and when I wake; and with my spirit and my body also, Hashem is with me, I will not fear.)” Yet, in our morning prayers we pray, “Reishit Kochman Yirat Hashem… The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Hashem.”  How can we juxtapose “I will not fear” with “wisdom is the fear of Hashem?”

Fear is equated with wisdom as long as our fear is ONLY the fear of Hashem. If we truly have fear of Hashem, and we have internalized the truth that Hashem Echad, Hashem in One (the third of the constant mitzvoth), then we will not experience fear of anyone or anything else.  The positive aspect of fear is being in awe of Hashem.  By adopting this positive aspect of fear, the negative aspect of fear – which is essentially the fear of anything else other than Hashem  – will naturally dissipate.

Feeling Protected?

October 6, 2015
Orit Esther Riter

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Today’s daily dose of emuna is dedicated and sponsored l’iluy nishmat Chaim Raphael ben Yitchak z’l. May his neshama rest and bask in the Divine radiance among all of the righteous souls who have departed from this world, Amen.

Today, the 18th of Tishrei, is the yahrtzeit of Rebbe Nachman ben Faiga ztk’l Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.  Rebbe Nachman is a unique figure in the history of Chassidut, the Jewish revival movement founded by his great-grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov HaKadosh. In his lifetime, the Rebbe was well-known as a Chassidic master, attracting hundreds of followers. Today, over 200 years after his passing, his following numbers in the tens of thousands, making him a vibrant source of encouragement and guidance in today’s world. May he serve as an advocate for Klal Yisrael, Amen. (Breslov.org)

There is only one truth – there is nothing else but Hashem.

Yet Hashem hid His presence in order that we experience our own individuality.  The key point is not to get lost in this reality and think that we are all that exists.  The root of all difficulty is precisely when we forget that we live with an illusion and that Hashem is not separate and ‘somewhere out there’.  Succot comes to make us aware of a deeper reality – we are intimately connected to Hashem.

Particularly now when the world around us is tipsy turvy, entrenched with uncertainty and chaos, we need to return to the only pillar of truth, Hashem is here – within, without and everywhere.   This amazing chag comes to remind us that as we journeyed through the desert, a place deserted of life, the Jewish people survived.  They were protected, sustained and clearly felt how dependent they were on Hashem’s care. This consciousness has remained innate within every Jew until today; and resurfaces during turbulent times.

I recently came across an amazing interpretation of the end of days scenario ‘Gog u-Magog’ where it suggests that Gog refers to the Hebrew word ga’ahg, roof.  A roof symbolizes protection, perhaps a false sense of security that comes from anything but Hashem.  The schach, roof of the succah comes to teach us that life is flimsy and uncertain; there is no security other than to rely on the compassionate loving hand of Hashem.

It is vital to not just ‘know’ this intellectually, but to sit in the succah and let our entire being become one with Hashem’s Oneness.  Break away from the façade and delusion by embracing this chag; grasp the essence of life as it actually is.

As we let go of the ‘things in life’ that appear to be our security – our banks accounts, homes, talents, etc. we move into our succahs.  We acknowledge and proclaim, ‘It is only You Hashem Who I rely on’.

May this G-dly embrace continue to ‘hug our reality’ this coming year even as we live in our ‘sturdy built homes’, Amen.

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