‍The Importance of Emunah: What It Means for Your Spiritual Life

In Jewish thought, the word Emunah means "faith." It refers to the state of being sure that God exists and that his teachings are true. According to the commentator Nachman of Breslov, it is the root meaning of "Yehudah" (Jew), for without faith there’s no Torah, or no belief in God. Our connection to God through emunah is essential to our spiritual life and well-being. Because we lack complete knowledge of God on our own, we need to trust in Him and believe that He wants us to fulfill His commandments. When we don’t have faith that G-d exists and that His Torah is correct, we are spiritually dead in a world brimming with life.

Here, Rabbi Shmuel Waldman, who has wide experience in religious education will explain what Emunah is, discuss its importance for your spiritual life, and give practical tips for cultivating it.

What Is Emunah?

"When you have Emunah, you have a basic trust that what you are doing in Judaism is right and true. You don’t question it, but you don’t put great stock in it either. You believe, but don’t necessarily know. When you believe, you are accepting the truth, or the "possibility of the truth" as Martin Buber put it.

If you don’t believe that something is true, you are not accepting it as true. You may know that it is true, but you are not accepting it. When you have faith, it means that you do not fully understand the truth. You don’t know why you believe it, you only know that you believe it. Faith is not knowledge, or understanding. When you have faith, you are accepting what you don’t fully understand," explains Rabbi Shmuel Waldman.

Why Is It So Important?

In Rabbi Shmuel Waldman’s opinion, having Emunah gives you a basic sense of security.

As he states: "It’s hard to feel peace and tranquility when you don’t have an inkling of what is really out there. When you don’t believe in a Higher Power, you may feel safe in this world, but you’re missing a piece of what would truly make you happy. When you have emunah, you don’t dwell on "what ifs." You don’t spend time wondering what would happen if you died, or if there is a life after this one. You know that everything is going to be okay, and you can relax and be yourself. Having emunah doesn’t mean that you don’t think about the spiritual, but it does mean that you don’t obsess over it. You don’t let the small and large wrongs of this world get you down, for you know that G-d watches over you, and that if you trust in Him, everything will be okay."

How to Develop Emunah

Here, Rabbi Shmuel Waldman, who has influenced many hundreds of students for over twenty years though his religious teachings, gives you some tips on developing Emunah:

- Read - Emunah can be cultivated by reading writings of people with emunah, reading teachings of people with emunah, and looking up words in a dictionary that remind you of Emunah.

- Pray - Praying is one of the best ways to build emunah. Even if you aren’t religious, you can use it as a way to express your gratitude to G-d.

- Study - Emunah can be developed by reading and studying Torah, adding passages to your bookmark, and asking yourself questions while studying.

- Create - Emunah is also created by acts. When you bake bread, when you plant a tree, when you make a peace offering, you are engaging in the divine.

- Connect - Emunah is built by connecting to people with emunah. You don’t have to be best friends, but you can at least be friendly.

- Connect More - You can also connect with people who don’t have emunah. This can be done through friendships, your workplace, and even when you’re shopping. - Be Positive - Positive thinking can help you build emunah. Even if you don’t believe in the power of positive thinking, you can use positive words to express your gratitude to G-d.

Rabbi Shmuel Waldman’s Final Thoughts

When we don’t have Emunah, we often obsess over negative things and questions, and we are quick to anger. Our trust in the world is not there, and without emunah, we can’t have faith in G-d to protect us. The good news is that Emunah can be developed, and once you have it, it’s one of the most important things in your life.

For more articles like this, visit the website of Rabbi Shmuel Waldman.