“You were shown to know … ein od milvado — there is none other than He” (Devarim 4:35).
The Nefesh HaChaim discusses a Gemara regarding a woman who wished to take the dust from the feet of Rabi Chanina to perform witchcraft and kill him. Rabi Chanina granted her permission, for he was confident that he had enough merits that she would not succeed. The Gemara asks: How could Rabi Chanina not be frightened of this power of evil?
Rabi Chanina knew: “Ein od milvado—There is none other than He.”
The forces of impurity don’t harbor power of their own. Hashem is the One Who gave them the ability to override the forces of nature, but without Hashem, they are helpless.
Thus, Rabi Chanina believed with singularity of thought that nothing other than Hashem possesses any power at all. Therefore, he was sure that the witchcraft would not overcome him. (Lekach Tov, Rav Beifus)
1939. A deathly storm is brewing over Europe. Nazi soldiers instill fear and terror in the hearts of Polish Jewry. Glass shatters in the streets; Jewish blood is spilled as water. A horse-drawn carriage dashes wildly through the countryside carrying the famed Brisker Rav zt”l. The tzaddik’s whole mind is focused intensely on one thought: Ein od milvado—There is none other than He.
Magnificent scenery passes by, but nobody in the carriage can appreciate it now; their hearts pound in trepidation, in sync with to the frantic hoof beats. The Angel of Death may appear at any moment.
Only the Rav seems oblivious to the danger and remains completely focused on the words: Ein od milvado.
Suddenly, an elderly German shrieks at the driver to stop. Everyone cringes, waiting for the inevitable shots that would bring them to an end. Yet, to their astonishment, the German does not slaughter them in cold blood. Rather, he begins to scream, “Flee! As fast as you can! There are soldiers nearby and they will finish you off!”
The shaken travelers escape immediately into the forest and are saved.
Years later, the Brisker Rav divulged his secret: any time his thoughts drifted for a second away from his concentration on the words of the pasuk, those in the carriage immediately encountered danger. When he would quickly resume focusing on this segulah, the danger would pass.
When a person focuses completely on the Omnipresence of Hashem, then Hashem nullifies all the forces of evil that they cannot act against him. (ibid.)
I wearily pushed my suitcases closer to the check-in desk. I hadn’t even gotten on the plane yet, and I was already exhausted. As my turn approached, I anxiously glanced at my bulging bags. They were probably overweight. No, they were overweight. But I had no strength to deal with it, nor did I have the extra money to pay the fine. I noticed that some clerks barely glanced at the weight of the suitcases while others were demanding scrupulous adherence.
Please Hashem. Let the clerk ignore the extra pounds. Please. As I nervously approached the counter, I picked up one of my bags to be weighed. Ein od milvado, I whispered. It’s all up to Hashem. I refused to look at the clerk, focusing all my attention on the words filling my mind.
“Are you checking one bag or two?” the clerk’s voice said briskly.
Glancing up, I noticed she had already removed my overweight bag from the scale.
“Uh, two,” I said hastily and put my other oversized bag on. I quickly resumed my thoughts.
“There you go; have a nice flight.” I was through. I felt a rush of relief flow through me. True, this scenario had only mundane repercussions. But the lesson remains true.
The snake can kill, and the snake can give life. Yet, when Yisrael looked upwards to their Father in Heaven, they were healed.
By trusting that only Hashem has the power to help us, we merit His constant protection.