Posted by: R Jonathan Gewirtz | December 29, 2014

Maximum Security

Who's really safe?

Who’s really safe?

One day, as I stopped by a bank, I saw a rather humorous sight. It was an armored car; the type that look like Humvees on steroids and are used to transport money to banks, stores, dictators of small foreign countries, etc.

What struck me about this one, though, was the wording lettered on the side. While it still had the company logo on it, it read: “Training vehicle. No money is being transported.” I thought it so incongruous that a vehicle designed to be nearly impenetrable would have to take the precaution of trying to dissuade potential thieves from targeting it. I found it funny that a veritable tank would resort to the same sort of defensive tactics used on buses, taxis, and in my local 7-Eleven. But even they have at least $30 on hand after dark.

It got me to thinking about the nature of security. When you look at a prison where the worst criminals are kept, they have barbed wire, electrified fences, steel doors, and armed guards. Would that make you feel comfortable to casually stroll past? Or to have a picnic in the grassy field outside the prison? Not likely.

The reason is that no matter what precautions you take, when there is something to fear, you rarely feel confident that the measures are fool-proof. Your mind thinks of the worst-case scenario, and you realize that it is wiser to avoid the area entirely. That’s probably why more people would choose to be a security guard at a pet store than a guard riding in the back of the armored car, even if the pay is higher.

By writing “Training Vehicle” on the truck, they remove a level of temptation for people to attack, thus making it safer for their staff. [Of course, I couldn’t help wondering why, if this helps, they don’t write it on more vehicles, even when they ARE carrying cash. Then I realized – who says they don’t?]

Bottom line, no matter how many barriers and protective devices people have to prevent others from harming them, there’s no way to gain complete peace of mind from them. There’s always the chance that someone can work around the system and do what they want.

Unless, of course, you have Jewish security. The Hebrew word used for Security Services is Bitachon. However, this term is borrowed. It has been used for millennia, well before machine guns and bulletproof vests. Jewish Bitachon is more than simply creating safeguards to stop people from harming others.

Jewish Bitachon refers not to the measures taken to protect oneself, but to the feeling of confidence and serenity he has that he will remain safe. One who has this bitachon is not calm because he has a bodyguard, but because he knows that HaShem Himself provides 24-hour surveillance and protection.

Probably the most famous manual for acquiring this security is the Shaar HaBitachon, The Portal to Security, found in the sefer Chovos HaLevavos, Duties of the Heart, by R’ Bachya ibn Pakuda. In it, he clarifies that the most powerful tool for success in life is being able to completely trust that HaShem is protecting you.

It frees you from worry, enables you to stand up to bullies, corrupt people, and your own fears, and helps you to serve HaShem with a clear mind. It also increases HaShem’s protection of you, since you have “hired” him to do so.

Now, this is not to say that a person should announce, “I completely trust in G-d,” and then walk through a bad neighborhood with a blinking neon sign that reads, “Carrying cash but no means of self-defense.” That would simply be crazy. HaShem does not want us to place ourselves in danger, even though He could save us, like He saved Avraham from the fiery furnace and Daniel from a group of hungry lions.

Rather, when one is doing something normal, such as flying on an airplane, he should feel confident that he is being kept aloft not by the wing stabilizers, but by the Hand of HaShem, Who put into effect the laws of nature and aerodynamics, and Who constantly cares for us.

When he is faced with a moral dilemma at work, he should remind himself that his livelihood comes from G-d, not from his boss. While he must remain respectful and appreciative of his employer, he must also remember that his employer is simply the messenger of G-d to give him money. If his boss asks him to do something illegal or unethical, he can only have the strength to object if he has Bitachon. Besides, if the boss is willing to do something wrong, would he stand by the employee if there were backlash just because he carried out orders?

So how can we get this confidence? It’s a simple process, though not so simple to wrap our brains around at first. The way to do it is by studying things like Shaar HaBitachon, and by constantly reminding ourselves that everything comes from HaShem and that He is wholly dedicated to caring for us, His creations.

The Chazon Ish said that when a person needs new shoes he should pray, “G-d, see how my old shoes are worn out. Please give me the money to buy new ones so that I might continue to serve You.” He can add, “Please help me find a pair that is comfortable, reasonably-priced, and help me to find it without too much trouble.” By doing so, you will turn your conceptual knowledge of HaShem into a concrete one.

So, if you want Maximum Security, you know what to do. Study, pray, and who knows? The next time you ask HaShem for a good parking spot, it just might be at the bank, right next to the Armored Car service’s training vehicle – and you’ll the one who is more secure.


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