In the world of Harry Potter where even children wield otherworldly power, the Deathly Hallows are nevertheless a trifecta of near omnipotence, created (if one believes the legend) by Death himself. They are the Elder Wand, most powerful wizarding tool of all time, the Resurrection Stone, which can raise the dead, and the Invisibility Cloak, for those who always played Rogues in Dungeons & Dragons.
In the real world, in Medieval times, there lived a Jewish scholar named Rabbi Bachayye ben Yosef Ibn Pkuda, and he wrote a holy book called Torat Chovot HaLevavot, Duties of the Heart, which describes in great detail the inner world of an observant Jew, with a focus on what G-d requires of the Jewish character (e.g. love, humility). In his preface to the Gate of Trust, he lists ten ways in which a rock-solid confidence in the Creator is more desirable than the abilities of the Alchemist, who can turn copper to silver, and silver to gold.
Bitachon, or Trust, means not just the belief in G-d’s omnipotence or in his involvement with the world, but also a positive reliance on his goodness, i.e. “things will go well for me, in a way I can easily appreciate, because G-d is kind.” Trust involves abandoning one’s worries and cares to G-d and is so great that it is repaid in kind with the object of one’s trust, regardless of one’s past actions. Even the dirtiest no-gooder in the world can live a life of perfect satisfaction if he trusts completely; it is a service of such loftiness as to reward itself. It is the method by which even the most normal of us can work miracles.
I began to think: what does Bitachon/trust offer the modern muggle that the most powerful form of wizardy does not?
1. You Have to Actually Acquire the Deathly Hallows
It takes more than a smile. You’ll have to fight every step of the way or flaunt extravagant wealth, and you better not have any qualms about grave robbing. If you don’t get the magical objects, you get no special powers.
But one who trusts in G-d knows that the Creator will sustain them even through severe poverty, famine, weakness, zombie apocalypse, etc.; He has many messengers with which to feed and protect, no matter what the material situation of the recipient. “Young lions suffer want and are hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good.” (Tehillim/Psalms 34:11)
2. Using the Deathly Hallows Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
Even in the ancient tale of the Hallows, things didn’t end well for the three brothers. And in more modern times there was that whole incident with the Elder Wand, and no one wanted to breathe the Voldemort-dust afterward. Good thing Harry made the right choice.
One who trusts in G-d will find long years of peace and happiness, with the knowledge that everything that happens comes from the benevolent Master. “He causes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters.” (Tehillim/Psalms 23:2)
3. Keep the Hallows Secret, Or They’ll Be Taken From You
Even the mighty Professor Dumbledore didn’t go shouting about them, did he?
A person who trusts isn’t afraid to let others know it, and is in fact revered by his peers. “In God I trusted, I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Tehillim/Psalms 56:12)
4. You’re Always Doing Too Much or Too Little, and It’s Stressful
Wow, I just got my hands on the Elder Wand. I think I’m gonna whip up a Philosopher’s Stone. Why wouldn’t I want to live forever? I’d ask Nicolas Flamel, but oh wait, he agreed to die after the struggle for his invention nearly led to Voldemort’s resurrection when Harry was far too young and not nearly angsty enough to face him. It’s nothing but trouble when you just leave your powerful magic objects lying around.
Oh, you think, so I won’t create anything potentially dangerous. I’ll only use the Hallows when I need them, and the rest of the time leave them safely locked up in Gringotts. But then, what’s the point of having them in the first place? You just know there’s gonna be a dementor attack or an abundance of dirty laundry or something, and who has time to schlep to Diagon Alley and wait for the goblins to fetch your stuff?
If you trust G-d, you needn’t worry. He’ll get you what you need, when you need it, as he does for every living creature. “I was young, I also aged, and I have not seen a righteous man forsaken and his seed seeking bread.” (Tehillim/Psalms 37:25)
5. No Matter How Secure Your Power, You Must Always Watch Your Back
One who trusts in G-d fears no one, and on the contrary, the world bends to one’s will and is on one’s side. “In six troubles He will save you, and in the seventh no harm will touch you. In famine, He redeemed you from death, and in war, from the power of the sword. You shall be hidden from the scourging tongue, and you shall not fear plunder when it comes. You shall mock plunder and hoarding, and you shall not fear the beasts of the land. But you have a treaty with the stones of the field, and the beasts of the field made peace with you. Then you shall know that there is peace in your tent, and you shall visit your habitation and miss nothing. And you shall know that your seed shall be many, and your offspring [as numerous] as the grass of the earth. You shall come to the grave at a ripe old age, as the grain stack is taken away in its time.” (Iyov/Job 5:19-26)
6. Some Problems, Even Magic Can’t Fix
And they really prevent you from enjoying your massive cosmic-scale powers. Think heartbreak, or old age, or an unlucky Bertie Bott’s bean. These can really ruin your day even as you’re creating giant fireballs of death or whatever. Not cool.
For someone who relies on the Almighty, pain, troubles, and sickness don’t enter the picture. If they do, he knows they’re an atonement for his past breaches of his relationship with G-d, or, if he has nothing to atone for, that he G-d will reward him in the world to come for his suffering. “Now youths shall become tired and weary, and young men shall stumble. But those who put their hope in the Lord shall renew [their] vigor, they shall raise wings as eagles; they shall run and not weary, they shall walk and not tire.” (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 40:30-31)
7. There Is No Guarantee Of A Finished Product
Sure, the Weasleys have a house that defies physics and self-cleaning flatware, but they clearly can’t create their own money out of thin air. They have to actually hold jobs and stuff, and even then they (presumably) have to take the money to a market and buy food, which even then has to be eaten with the hope they don’t have tapeworms or slugs or something in their intestines. Even if you had all three Hallows, you’d still have to resort to robbing the bank, or the store, or both, or maybe getting an honest job in the Ministry to get food into your stomach. And if you’re fired, or there’s a famine, everything unravels.
G-d, of course, has no issue with production and consumption, from money through digestion. “In famine, He redeemed you from death.” (Iyov/Job 5:20)
8. The Bearer of the Hallows Is Always On The Run
If the secret gets outs that you have some magical super powers, you can bet that they’ll be after you eventually. Who? Everyone.
Someone who trusts in G-d can settle down and be at peace. “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and be nourished by faith.” (Tehillim/Psalms 37:3)
9. The Deathly Hallows Don’t Effect Your Afterlife
Philosophically speaking, they’re actually quite weak. Beyond this mortal coil, what use are they? Magic is only helpful on this earth; on future journeys, who can say?.
One who trusts in G-d, however, is rewarded not just in this world, but in the next as well. In fact, even if one were to face torment in the next world, trust in G-d would prove just as useful as with the torments of our world. “How great is Your goodness that You have hidden away for those who fear You.” (Tehillim/Psalms 31:20)
10. Harry Potter isn’t Real!
Seriously. It’s all in your head. Don’t run around saying you own the Deathly Hallows, you’ll get locked up in the funny farm.
People see someone who is confident in G-d, however, as a pretty cool all-around real-deal type of fellow, because he is. People respect him and befriend him, and he brings blessing to all his familiars. “The Righteous is the foundation of the world.” (Mishlei/Proverbs 10:25)
Featured image of America’s Elder Wand courtesy of Flickr. Other images courtesy of the Internet.