NEW POST: Rav Mike–“Who Can You Trust These Days?”

Who can you trust these days?[1]


Once, the social fabric bound us tightly in roles and relationships. Identity issues aside, this allowed shared assumptions to facilitate understanding, which is an essential underpinning for trust. In a world where we click to transact, and if we meet it’s often in faceless connection, the intimacy of understanding is vanishingly precious. Can you imagine real communication with all your friends, or a butcher that knows everyone who eats his meat?


Trust is the foundation for a healthy culture. I am nostalgic for my glory days in college where we lived by the ‘universal gear rule’ – borrow what you like, just bring it back how you got it[2]. Small-scale communism, communalism, underlies relationships of intimacy. Money only serves to protect this trust, never to create it.


Questioning one’s trustworthiness it questioning their self. So before we explore the bearing of this question on matters financial, it is best to clarify terms.[3] It feels too narrow to define a state of being, a posture in the world. I’d rather flesh it out.


Trust is rooted in courage. The willingness to take risk is intrinsic to trust, and essential to the success of the relationships we build on it. If I never rest on another’s word, I will never know if I can trust them to hold me.


Trust grows out of communication. Real communication is a fundamental expression of trust, because it involves an intimate sharing of self. I can only be honest if I feel safe, inside and out. Then I can fit my words and decisions to match my true expectations of self and other. This harmony of action and intention is the definition of integrity[4], and the Torah’s foundation for binding speech.[5]


Trust relies on forgiveness. Anyone who aspires to honesty and lives in reality knows the loving wisdom of forgiveness for self and other. Not a willful indulgence, or blindness to behavior; rather a deep faith in our ability to become who we wish to be, even in the face of failure.


On the dollar bill it reads ‘In Gd We Trust.’ The banks in America tell you they are backed by the full faith and trust of the US Government. And the fine print on any contract says, the rule is – trust no one. So who can we trust?




[1] The definition of נאמנות, halachic trustworthiness, is a critical underpinning for most areas of halacha. For an overview see Mishna Demai 2:2 w/Rambam, Yoreh Deah 119:1 w/nosie kelim (esp. Taz), Aruch HaShulchan 119:20, Avodah Zarah 39b (Rashi ein lok’chin), Mishne Torah Ma’achlot Assurot 11:25-26 w/Raavad, Aruch HaShulchan 119:11. Thank you Rav Fink for years of well organized shiurim!

[2] This was no small amount of trust in a world of climbers, bikers, boaters and skiers

[3] Ah the tragedy of signifier and signified. The words I use as laden with meaning, but how can I know that their meaning for you is the same as what I hope they carry when I choose them? You could hear me speaking and be having a completely different conversation

[4] תוכו כבראו

[5] In order to be binding, a neder must be אחד בלב אחד בפה, we see that the discussion of it revolves around personality clarity of intention and word choice, as well as external perception of action and broader social meaning of terms


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