Weekly Inspiration

What Is Fear?
October 19th, 2023
What Is Fear?

Hashem says, in this week’s Parsha, “mala ha’aretz hamas … the earth is filled with ‘hamas,’ and, behold, I am about to destroy them from the earth.” (Beraishis 6:13) 

Rashi interprets the word “hamas” to mean “robbery.” They are trying to steal the Land from the Children of Israel.

This is an amazing example of how the weekly Parsha describes exactly what is happening in our world at this very moment!

Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz Shlita”h recently stated that the Maharal of Prague predicted that the final wars before the Revelation of Moshiach would involve a collaboration between “Paras and Yishmoel,” which translates into “Iran and the Arab nations.”

My friends, there is something called “fear.” 

Many are living in fear, both Jews and non-Jews. 

The Haftara for Chol ha Moed Sukkos (quoted also last week) says, “It shall be on that day … that Gog comes on the soil of Israel … My raging anger shall flare up. I take an oath that on that day … there shall quake before Me … every human being on the face of the earth.” (Yechezkel 38:18ff) It is predicted that every human being on the face of the earth shall quake before the Presence of Hashem during the chaotic period before the revelation of Moshiach. 

In this week’s Parsha, the dove found no place to rest the sole of its foot. When the world is trembling, there is no place to rest. 

What is fear? 

When I was young, living in affluent Manhattan, I felt fear. It seemed irrational, because there seemed nothing to fear, yet I was afraid. I did not understand what I was afraid of, but the fear controlled my life. I tried to run away, but the fear followed me everywhere.  

I thought it was my nemesis, but the amazing thing is that this fear saved my life! If it had not pursued me, I might have continued forever living the life of Golus, a life without Hashem. But I needed safety, and the fear itself drove me to discover Hashem! 

Hashem is bigger than everything, bigger than fear! 

Fear saved my life. Fear became my biggest friend!

A wonderful surgeon, a spiritual man, operated on me eight years ago. He once told me, “Pain is your friend. If you have pain, you know something is wrong and then you can fix it. But cancer first comes without pain. That is when you are really in danger.” 

Fear is like pain. When you are in fear, you know that you have to find Hashem. 

You may think I’m “a bissel meshuge,” but, on January 10, 1966, when I first discovered Hashem, I believe that a malach, an angel, came to me to save me. That malach has made an appearance several times in our life and he is our biggest friend. He has saved us – literally – on several occasions when all seemed lost. 

Is it so crazy to believe that malachim are real? Don’t we welcome them in our homes every Friday night? I believe fear is a messenger from Hashem. This messenger is so powerful that we are tempted to run away, but we cannot outrun fear; it is a messenger of Hashem and it is our friend. 

Yaakov Avinu stated that the source of his salvation was “pachad Yitzchak … the ‘dread’ of his father Yitzchak.” (Beraishis 31:42) What did Yitzchak Avinu dread? Of what was he in awe? 

Yitzchak Avinu was in awe of the Ribono shel Olam, the Master of the World. This was so real that he could offer his life for the Sanctification of G-d’s Name. This is the most beautiful of all qualities a person could possess. It leads to everything good.

Is this not what we call “Yiras Shomayim … fear of Heaven?” Is this not the character trait that will cause us to go in the Right Path? How can one not be in awe before the King of the Universe? Chazal tell us, “Everything is in the hands of Heaven except fear of Heaven!” (Berachos 33b) Fear of Heaven is what saves us! Fear means we are sensing the closeness of Hashem. We should thank Hashem for allowing us to begin to perceive His Presence. 

Ramban on the possuk “pachad Yitzchak” (Beraishis 31:42) cites the Novi who says, “The children of Israel will return and seek out Hashem their G-d and David their king, and they will tremble for Hashem and for His goodness in the end of days.” (Hoshea 3:5) Our trembling is a sign of the closeness of Hashem in the End of Days. 

“When Israel went out of Egypt … the mountains skipped like rams, the hills like young lambs…. Before the L-rd’s Presence … the earth trembled, before the presence of the 

G-d of Yaakov.” (Tehillim 114) May Moshiach ben Dovid soon herald the Reign of Torah upon the earth, when we will all tremble with happiness! 


Chazal: The rabbis of the Mishna and Gemora
Golus: Exile
Novi: Prophet
Possuk: Sentence in the Torah
Yaakov Avinu: The Biblical Patriarch Jacob
itzchak Avinu: The Biblical Patriarch Isaac

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