Part 1: Faith, Truth, and Trust
Para. 2: Faith as the Source
“Faith is the foundation of the entire Torah”, Reb Tzadok asserts . And it alone enables us “to attach onto God’s presence” and to “be eternal” .
“Even if you’re stuck in whatever (untenable, sinful, etc.) situation you’re stuck in, faith can (nonetheless) extricate you from it”. In fact, even if “you’re stuck in one of the world’s deepest, darkest crevices (of sinfulness) from which all light is darkened and hidden” still-and-all by “bolstering your faith” you can merit earning God’s light .
And you “can reach the highest stages a person can reach” with faith, “since faith is the gateway to God.” In fact, he concludes, “the promised great redemption will only come about through faith” .
(From Pri Tzadik, KedushatShabbat 7)
 That’s pretty obvious, given that one would only observe the Torah if he believes in God and His Torah. But his point is less straightforward than that, as we’ll see.
It’s clear that Reb Tzadok is speaking of a higher, deeper, more vital sort of faith than we might first come to think of, as we’ll soon see. For there are many degrees of it.
The lowest degree of faith comes down to just accepting the idea of something despite the lack of proof. I might “believe”, for example, that there are specifically Japanese bananas simply because it seems reasonable enough to accept that. But rather than being a statement of faith, that’s a good and tepid guess with nothing to lose if I’m wrong.
The deepest level of faith, though, touches on a felt near-certainty based on the degree that I sense and intuit the existence of the thing I believe in. It comes down to an inward, experienced conviction that’s rooted in a seemingly and perhaps actually palpable sense of the thing’s reality. That’s the sort faith Reb Tzadok is referring to here. It’s the only one that would enable us to attach on to God, to be immortal, etc. which is about to be spoken of.
Also, just as you have to want something before you can think about how to affect it, you have to believe in its existence before you can want it. Hence, belief is the deepest root of both thought and action. We’ll speak of another aspect of faith in note 4 below.
 The implication is that you can only attach onto God if He is as palpably real to you as eternity is in your heart.
 Reb Tzadok here cites and draws from the well know verse that reads “Even when I walk in the valley of darkness I will fear no harm, for You are with me” (Psalms 23:4) which then ends with assertion that as a consequence of my belief in that fact “I will dwell in the house of the Lord” (Ibid. v. 6)
 We’re promised a world of things — and more — here if we believe: a Torah-life; attachment onto God’s presence and His light; eternity; the highest spiritual levels imaginable; and redemption itself, both personal and national. How is that possible?
Perhaps the best illustration we could offer is this. Many fiction writers approach a project and actors approach a role by assuming what’s termed an “as if” attitude. That’s to say that they’re to imagine as if what they were writing about or planning to act out were laid before their eyes, and that all they had to do was to follow through on it. One might, for example, write or act out a scene as if there actually was a rainstorm in front of his eyes, and he’d thus pick up a signal from there what to write or manifest. On one level it’s placing oneself in the right “mood”, but on another it’s an instance of imaginatively placing oneself in the very situation, feeling or sensing its reality, and going on from there. And in a sense they’ll be right “there” — in the thick of the situation they’d have taken so seriously.
This is very much in keeping with the Ba’al Shem Tov’s remark that “A person is where his mind dwells” — that you’re very soul is transported to whatever your mind concentrates upon.
Hence, believe in and act as if God exists from the depths of your being and you’ll be with Him and inherit His Torah, you’ll bask in His light, be timeless, achieve the highest spiritual levels, and be redeemed on all levels since you’ll be with Him, so to speak.
(c) 2015 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com
AT LONG LAST! Rabbi Feldman’s translation of Maimonides’ “Eight Chapters” is available here at a discount.
You can still purchase a copy of Rabbi Feldman’s translation of “The Gates of Repentance” here at a discount as well.
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).