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6:37 PM in Flatbush
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Friday, 20 Sep 2019
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Do I Need to Work for a Living?
by Rabbi Yosef Braun
Question:

I usually spend many hours at work, helping to provide for my family. However, yesterday I attended a shiur where the rabbi explained the conflict of work vs. faith. According to this rabbi, all sustenance comes from above and our efforts at work are purely meaningless. Do you believe in this kind of stuff? Should I quit working and the blessing will just rain down from above?

Answer:

Are you sitting or standing? You're better off sitting, taking it easy, inhaling and listening carefully. Yes. I too ascribe to this belief. Regardless of whether you spend 10 hours at your desk or less, you'll be showered with an abundance of blessings.

I believe in many other outlandish fantasies too. Here is one of the better ones. Have you heard of the latest "cash growing on walls" fantasy? I belong to a group of people who are convinced that if you design a plastic card with an encoded magnetic strip you can access hard cash and become wealthy in a matter of minutes.

Oh. Of course there is the fine print. The catch is: you need to have an account with a particular bank to be able to access your money. Sure, you might have the latest glossy colour-photo fraud-protected gold ATM CARD, but you would do well to make sure there is money in the account first.

There is another side to the coin too (excuse the pun): while there is no doubt that the money in your account is not affected by you misplacing your card or forgetting you PIN, it becomes virtually impossible to reap the benefits from your account without that crucial information.

Going to work and investing time and energy into your business is as important as obtaining the PIN for your ATM card. But, but it won't get you anywhere unless Divine blessings are pouring into your account stocking it up with capital funds.

And the reverse is also true: I can't agree more with the rabbi that quitting work, like forgetting your PIN, will have zero effect on your balance. Your balance will remain untouched; it is influenced purely by Divine movements only. Does that make you richer? No. you still need that card, PIN or extra hours at work to cash in on those blessings.

The practical relevance: Number one, don't quit your job just yet. But there is more to it. We need to put things in perspective and relegate our work to where it really belongs. Your job doesn't make you wealthy or poor. It is just a necessary tool to assist you in obtaining your pre-ordained riches. And thus, it should be treated as such.

Hey, we all love options and choices. Alternative treatments, alternative lifestyles and even alternative music or news.  But not everything in life is an elective.  There are some non-negotiables. Some things are "must haves" or "must dos"; they just have to get done, whether we like it or not. You're not expected to enjoy it; you do what you have to and "get on with the job". Like paying taxes, eating healthy food or visiting the restroom.

In our case, investing large amounts of hard-earned cash in your bank account is indeed a pleasure. It's altogether an exciting experience. However, committing to memory random six-digit passwords (with a reasonable mix of letters and numbers) might be an important and necessary act to protect your income, but it wouldn't qualify as your number one favourite pastime. It's another one of those musts.

Similarly, exerting yourself in your job is borne out of the necessity to fashion a vessel for collecting your Divine blessings. The fun, however, lies elsewhere. Going to a shiur or davening with a minyan - that brings in cold cash. Channel your enthusiasm there.
Should you quit your job? Don't know about that.

But, attending that shiur wasn't such a bad idea after all; it was another investment in your account. One step closer to quitting your job for good.
 

 


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