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Why Work for a Living?

Why Work for a Living?

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Question:

If you really trust in G‑d, why do you work for a living? Surely G‑d will provide!

Answer:

If I sit back and wait for money to fall from heaven, that is not faith—that’s lack of faith.

Such an attitude means that I’m essentially saying: if money falls from the sky, it’s from G‑d; but if money is made from smart investments or hard work, G‑d didn’t do it, it was me. I have limited G‑d by relegating His powers to the supernatural. I’m saying that when I do something the natural way, I did it on my own; G‑d had nothing to do with it.

Judaism says otherwise. A true believer is one who works hard, but realizes that the success or failure of his business is not in his hands, but in G‑d’s hands. Our efforts are the vessel, but it is G‑d who fills the vessel with His blessing.

This philosophy is at once liberating and demanding. It frees us from worrying about the outcome—that is in G‑d’s hands. But it places the onus on us—we have to do the work so G‑d can give us the blessing.

This is true not only in making a living, but in all areas of human endeavor. Whether we are seeking our soulmate, need a cure for an illness, or are being attacked by an enemy, we don’t wait for G‑d to do a miracle. We get up and do what has to be done, all the while knowing that the success of our actions comes from above.

Ultimately, when we make the effort but give the credit to G‑d, even we can bring about miracles.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Artwork by David Brook. David lives in Sydney, Australia, and has been selling his art since he was in high school. He is currently painting and doing web illustrations.
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Anonymous FOND DU LAC, WI November 16, 2011

playing a lottery how about those people win a lottery ticket,? do you suggest are those a miracle from G-d?. is playing lotto is allowed to jewish people?. were talking and discussing about supernatural and miracles is that mean G-d creates this supernatural or miracles when some individual people win a lottery. Reply

Raymond Bastarache Plaster Rock NB, Canada March 3, 2011

Why work for a living? I agree 100%, with Rabbi Aron Moss, "Work and leave the results with God'. if I am successful I praise GOD, if I fail, I praise God. Like the scientist, who invented the light bulb? failed 1000 times and said: "that 1000 times, it didn't work?"but eventual he succeeded. possibly he asked God?for help? I wish to think he did?.. for without Him we can do nothing.. like the Jews, that invented the bomb to destroy the enemy and his allies. God gave him the wisdom. Abraham,s seed , has this promise from God: "I will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you? God is in control...like "hands "and" wings". Flesly hands are our doings but the wings is God's doings. Natural and the Spiritual are both involved to succeed. the Bible says:" The sword of Gideon and the Lord?"Sound to me, we cannot succeed unless God get's the Glory"? He gives us the power and strength to accomplish our goals in life , not for our own selfish ambitions. read" Deut. 8:17-18, for your answer, also? Reply

john smith fort lauderdale, fl February 23, 2011

why not just say it G-d knows nothing about monetary policy or money! this is our thing and it seems since their are NO rulers anymore, its every man for himself in a dog eat dog world. it is very apparent that the people who are in charge today are also not in control of monetary policy as it seems to be spread across the globe instead of in your personal banks living in the freeist country on the planet. IT DOESNT SEEM TO BE FREE ANYMORE as now we have to pay for the planet and its short comings from fear of retaliation from being so free! Reply

David Brown Vienna, Austria February 23, 2011

Excellent Answer What an excellent answer. It is also a mitzvah because it encourages me to work even harder. Thank you. Reply

shara dillon mo, usa June 27, 2008

Why work for a living? Thank you for this question and wonderfully clear answer. This is an important message for everyone who has any form of faith. I heard in the past that if we take one step, G-d takes two. This has helped me when I crashed on the couch and cried why? It helped me to get back up again and try harder, realizing that I needed to start the task in order to be assisted with the task at hand. I needed this reminder. Reply

Kelly Rae Sydney, AU June 27, 2008

Excellent answer to an oft asked question. A small example - Say someone wishes for a mate. If they stay in the house and never go out, will they find someone? Probably not. If they attend shul, classes and gatherings at their shul they most probably will.

G-d knows what we need. We often want more than we need. All blessings from above should be accepted as a child accepts one candy from his mother, rather than the two he wants. His mother knows what he needs and what will be too much. Reply

Inge Reisinger Offenbach am Main, Germany June 27, 2008

Wonderful written and absolutely correct. All our work is in G-d's hand and depends on his blessings. Reply

Shaul June 26, 2008

Why do we work? Look at Genesis 2 and 3 In the Garden of Eden we lived as do primitive people in the rain forest, by gathering the food that occurred there naturally, the fruit and nuts, the roots, the leaves of some plants, the seeds of other plants (beans), and maybe even birds' eggs. It took about three or four hours every morning to gather enough food for the day. We received this food gladly from the generous hand of Gd.

The afternoon was then free to be with friends, to tell stories, to sing, to dance, to carve or sculpt, to draw or paint or otherwise exercise our craftsmanship or creativity.

That was the way Gd meant for us to live. Only after we ate the Tree of Knowledge did we get stuck with working by the sweat of our brow. Only then did we become farmers. Reply

Ieva Latvia June 26, 2008

blessing vs HARD work Shlomo says, that G-ds blessing makes us rich without too big effort from our side. There are 2 questions - how to reach to be blessed and what does it mean - too big effort or to work hard? Choose to obey G-d and G-d promises to bless you. And then maintain balanced life style, not to ruin your health, family, Shabat, to be glad and joyful about the life and to have power to love G-d and people... Reply

sara channa eisenmann bet shemesh, Israel June 26, 2008

why work..... i ave always believed that being able to work is a blessing,even sometimes a hidden one.And that honest work ads dignity to a human being.in the past our Rabbis learned a skill to be able to earn living.When and how this changed,so today we have so many learning Torah,and leave to others to provide for them and often for their families as well? Reply

Sheldon Thornhill, ON/Canada June 26, 2008

Why work for a living? It is a sign of humility to recognize that success is due to G-d (or luck, or good timining, etc. ) as well as due to inspiration and perspiration. But how about failure? Do we blame G-d? Do we blame ourselves: I must have been bad and therefore G-d punished me?

Where do failures come from if "the success of our actions comes from above"? Reply

tamar Israel May 16, 2008

makes sense it's like the saying g-d helps those who help themselves. what a nice article because i also thought about it before. why should we work for a living. first and foremost because if we don't have means of surviving we couldn't do all of his commandments. recently both of my parents died and i'm only 31 so i really feel that every moment g-d gives us on this earth shouldn't be wasted. i mean it's sad to say but almost our entire lives are filled with all of the mundane activities that we must do to keep living. so that's why it even says in the torah, and the shema and it's blessings "Let these matters that I command you today be upon your heart. Teach them thoroughly to your children and speak of them while you sit in your home while you walk on the way, when you retire and when you arise." Meaning that in between all of the activities we have to do in one day don't forget Hashem because we're actually doing everything out of love for our Creator. Reply

Melissa Greenville, SC May 15, 2008

Thank You! Thank you, Rabbi Moss! I was just wondering what I should do next, as though I didn't have the ability to act. This will spur me to right action, I am sure.

I should print this and post it somewhere so that I can read it a lot. Reply

Anonymous May 13, 2008

why work........ no matter how you face this question......it's a darn good one............

fact is fact, no matter HOW you massage it...there are words, that actually say g-d will take care of many things...BUT it will be done, only with the help of the person asking...........

beat around the bush as you will.....words will not change what has been written.

Well said? Reply

Michal Passau, Germany May 13, 2008

We do what we must, G-d gives the blessing Wonderful, Rabbi Moss.
You wrote soothing words for somebody who had to work all his /her life.
I remember, what is written in Pirkei Avot, 3,21: Im eijn kemach, eijn Torah,
im ein Torah, eijn kemach.
G-d and I we work together. But you are right too. Sometimes I forget, that I did not do it all on myself.
Thank you for your article! Reply

Carol Druckman Chehalis, Washington September 8, 2006

Finding a mate I agree with your article completely; but looking at Torah, and Jacob and Rachael for one, what IS one's responsibility in "doing something?" What exactly should one do? Surely G-d is capable of sending the right person to you in any number of common places (grocery store, gas station, post office, etc.). Reply

Morton Bodanis Montreal, Canada September 8, 2006

If you really trust in G-d, why do you work for. . I am puzzled. A true believer is one who works hard, and understands that his success or failure is in G-d's hands. Does this mean that no matter how hard he works, the believer may fail because G-d so wishes? And if he succeeds, it is only because G-d so wishes? A good man may work hard and still fail, not because of his lack of trying, but because G-d so wishes? At what point do his efforts become irrelevent? Reply

Michael N Dineen Ridgefiel;d, Wa. USA September 5, 2006

Work Holy Scripture says---
If you don't work, you don't eat...... Reply

Yehonaton Levy Chicago, IL September 5, 2006

Real Trust... What happens when everything you attempt brings insufficient results? when you put out flyers for your business idea and get no response, or you apply to jobs and are qualified yet get passed over for the position, or when the position is something that would cause you to break Shabbat or Yom Tovim? What then? When you go to collect tzedukah and all you get are pennies? What is HaShem saying to you? be patient, disregrading the past is something we are famous for, and yet it has been said that 'doing the same type of things and expecting different results is the definition of 'insanity'... this not only applies to jobs yet to all relationships, because everything comes down to how we relate... and that is what halacha is for - isn't it? Ultimately we relate to G_d by doing (or not doing), and to each other... etc. Reply

Sbastian Hantjens Sydney, australia December 8, 2004

If you really trust in G-d, why do you work for a We created this way of living, not God. When Adam and Eve landed on this Earth they never had to work for anyone.

Please reply. Reply