How to Build Resilient Faith

April 25, 2024

The holiday of Passover celebrates redemption from Egyptian slavery. But how did the Jewish people survive hundreds of years of bitter slavery with their faith intact? How do we continue to maintain our faith in God after suffering so many horrors throughout Jewish history?

I found the answer to this question from an unlikely source, a magazine article about an unassuming woman from Jerusalem.

Devorah Paley was a name that was unknown to many before she experienced a tragedy that sent shockwaves across the Jewish world. Now, she is a national icon of strength, resilience and faith. Because of her deep belief and faith in God, she was able to transform her profound loss into a beacon of hope and comfort for people across the globe. Devorah teaches us how it is possible to maintain faith in God during dark times.

The tragic loss of her two young sons in a terror attack, coupled with her husband Avraham’s critical injuries, would have been the breaking point for many. Yet, Devorah’s story is not one of despair but one of inspiration, an incredible journey of faith, or emunah, as it’s known in Hebrew.

The essence of Devorah’s faith is beautifully encapsulated in a verse from Psalms 92:3:

This verse speaks of proclaiming God’s steadfast love in the morning and His faithfulness at night. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz explains that “daybreak” symbolizes times of clarity and blessing, while “night” represents the difficult and dark times in our lives when God’s presence seems obscured. It is during these metaphorical ‘nights’ that faith becomes crucial. Our unwavering faith in God carries us through these dark times.

Where does the faith in the dark times come from?

Devorah explained that faith, emunah, shares a root with the word imun, meaning training in Hebrew. This suggests that faith is a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time. Though for some it comes more naturally than others, faith can be cultivated through practice and reflection. By actively looking for God’s presence at all times and by regularly speaking about God and his involvement in our lives, we can fortify our faith, preparing us for those times when it will be tested.

Another way to increase our faith is through perspective. Do we view the negative events in our lives as happening despite God (where was He when…), or do we see everything, both good and bad, as coming from Him? Every day in the morning prayers we say that God “decrees and upholds.” While on a simple level this means that God upholds His decrees, Devorah’s father explained to her that it also means that when God decrees something difficult for us, He Himself is there to uphold and sustain us during these times.

These insights are not just theoretical. Since October 7th Devorah has visited many bereaved families. Her outreach to these families has shown her that those who have nurtured their faith can tap into a reservoir of strength in times of loss, while those who haven’t often struggle with anger and blame. This observation highlights how a deep-seated faith can provide strength and comfort even in the deepest of sorrows, and underscores the need to cultivate our faith in the good times. It underscores how, despite all the suffering and horrors throughout the thousands of years of our history, the Jewish people continue to maintain their faith in the Almighty.

Devorah Paley reminds us that in the darkest of nights, our faith can illuminate the path forward. It teaches us that faith, like any other aspect of our lives, requires attention, cultivation, and practice. In the moments of our greatest tests, it is this faith that sustains us, ensuring that when night falls we do not get lost in the darkness, and guiding us through until the break of dawn. As you reflect on Devorah’s resilience, consider your own moments of darkness and renewal. What personal trials have tested your faith, and how have you navigated them? How can Devorah’s example inspire you to strengthen your own emunah? In what ways can you nurture your faith to not only endure but thrive in adversity?

As we sit at our Passover tables we remember not just the slavery in Egypt and the great Exodus from it, but we recall how “in every generation, they stand [against] us to destroy us, but the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hand.” Throughout every generation, for thousands of years, there are those who try to destroy the Jewish people. We have been downtrodden and oppressed, but not broken. God is always on our side and He always redeems us. Let Devorah’s story inspire us to recognize the miracles in our lives, both past and present, and invite us to cultivate a deeper faith that can guide us through life’s challenges.

Israeli soldiers are risking their lives to protect us all from Islamic terrorism. But they need our help. Sign up for Israel365 Action to receive updates on how YOU can help fight Hamas and its supporters in the United States and around the world.

Shira Schechter

Shira Schechter is the content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. She earned master’s degrees in both Jewish Education and Bible from Yeshiva University. She taught the Hebrew Bible at a high school in New Jersey for eight years before making Aliyah with her family in 2013. Shira joined the Israel365 staff shortly after moving to Israel and contributed significantly to the development and publication of The Israel Bible.

Shira Schechter

Shira Schechter is the content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. She earned master’s degrees in both Jewish Education and Bible from Yeshiva University. She taught the Hebrew Bible at a high school in New Jersey for eight years before making Aliyah with her family in 2013. Shira joined the Israel365 staff shortly after moving to Israel and contributed significantly to the development and publication of The Israel Bible.

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