Caution vs. Fear

This post was written by MJTI Registrar Rabbi Michael Hillel.

Earlier, while answering emails, I was asked how Rabbi Vered and I were doing. I responded that we were doing well while “remaining cautious as COVID-19 numbers continue to climb.”

An almost immediate response returned with the question, “What is the difference between caution and fear?”

In response, I would say it is a matter of attitude or perspective. In Isaiah 41:10, we are encouraged with these words,

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you; don’t be distressed, for I am your God. I give you strength, I give you help, I support you with my victorious right hand.”

On the other hand, Rav Shaul (the Apostle Paul) exhorts us all in Ephesians 5:15 to:

“…pay careful attention to how you conduct your life — live wisely, not unwisely.”

Fear is germinated by doubt and a lack of faith in the One who holds us in His hands. Caution is being wise while walking in trust and faith, doing what we are encouraged to do either by common sense or by the instructions of others who are charged with our welfare.

One last word of encouragement from the Word from Hebrews 11:1:

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of realities not seen.”

Right now, it is hard to see the end of this pandemic and the solution to the multitude of problems in the social and political realm—in Israel, in the United States, and abroad. But by surrendering our fears and our need for control to HaShem, we can ride the ups and downs comforted by His peace and reassured by His promises.

For more by Rabbi Hillel, read his articles about looking towards Elul, thoughts on a visual Shavuot, and continuing to count the Omer.

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