By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui
A man once brought his concern to Rabbi Meir of Premishlan, “someone is stealing my livelihood!”
“When a horse lowers its head to drink from the river,” Rabbi Meir told him, “he stamps his hooves down on the ground. Do you know why? Seeing another horse reflected in the water, he becomes angry and envious that someone else might be taking some of his water, so he stamps his hooves.” “You however,” continued Rabbi Meir “surely understand, that only a horse can think that way, since, there is enough water for both horses.” “Our sages have already taught us, that no one, can ever take what belongs to another, and surely no one can add more for himself than what was already pre-ordained for him to earn.”
It is true the Bible says, “G-d will bless you in all that you do,” and, “six days a week you shall work, and the seventh day you shall rest.” Undoubtedly, it is expected of us to labor in order to earn a living. However, the books tell us that since a person’s income is already preordained by G-d at the beginning of the year, it is unnecessary and futile for a person to work in excess of what is essential, to earn the amount necessary to live on for the present time.
Overworking, is a person’s choice, to add stress and heartache in one’s life. Deciding that you will work earlier than everyone else, and stay later than everyone else, is a person’s own choice to take time away from other responsibilities he has in life, which will surely suffer as a result, while he earns no more money than is already predestined for him.
From time to time during the winter months, Rabbi Shmuel would travel out of Lubavitch for health reasons. Once, before he left the village, some of the local residents who made their money on the people who would come to visit this Rabbi, they went over to Rabbi Shmuel and said, “When the honorable Rabbi leaves, how will we, earn a living?”
Rabbi Shmuel responded with the following. “Did you ever hear of a cow worrying when the trough he eats out of breaks? It is the cows’ owner who must worry. So too with you. While I’m away you must trust that G-d will take care of your livelihood. There is no need for you to worry. You must be worthy individuals in the eyes of G-d, make your effort, and there are many ways G-d can, and will, provide.”
There are two approaches one may take to their employment. Some, identify with their work as a kind of indispensable and essential tool through which they earn their income and livelihood. Therefore they see their business/employment as the actual source of money albeit by the grace of G-d. These people are prone to guard and view their employment/business in a way that would detract many times from other responsibilities.
Then there are others, who see their work as merely an excuse and a means in nature for G-d to provide their money. The only reason they go to work, is because G-d commanded us to do so, not because G-d needs the job to provide us with sustenance. Work, is not the source of income. G-d is the source, and it doesn’t matter to Him, what we are doing, for Him to provide.
This second approach allows a person to dedicate himself to his responsibilities in life, in a way that his health, and his family life, and his religious responsibilities, are not affected by his work. With this approach, a person understands that what counts most, is that he carry out his moral responsibilities properly, and when G-d is happy, blessings will come from heaven, in an abundant measure, in all the areas of life that matter most.
To read more articles from Rabbi Ezagui visit him at http://koshercaffeine.blogspot.com