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What Can I Do about My Bad Luck?

What Can I Do about My Bad Luck?



Is it possible for someone to have bad luck? My grandmother used to say about such people that they have "no mazel." I am a college graduate, a learned man, but cannot seem to make any money.


The word "mazel" is derived from the Hebrew verb "nozel" which means to flow. Mazel is the energy which flows to us from Above, and thus we often wish each other "mazel tov," which really means, "may you have a flow of positive energy."

Mazel affects every area in life. One person has mazel with his children, one has mazel in his looks, one has mazel when it comes to health, one when it comes to making money. One person has mazel with her friends, one with parents-in-law, one with great spouses for their children. One has mazel in his job, one has mazel with his bosses, one in making investments. One has mazel with her plants (a "green thumb") and one with scrabble. The list is endless.

So I'd like to make two points:

1) As you can see, mazel affects innumerable areas in a person's life. A person can have bad mazel in a specific area—but great mazel in many others. If someone has great mazel when it comes to making money, but no mazel at all with children, spouse, health, etc.—would you say he is a truly fortunate person, just because he is financially successful? What about a brilliant person in an unhappy marriage? The friendless millionaire? You write that you don't have good mazel financially—but do you have mazel in other areas of life? Nobody has good mazel in everything! And mazel with money is of far less importance than mazel in many other areas in life.

2) Mazel does not occur in a vacuum. We believe that every year on Rosh Hashanah it is decreed in Heaven what a person will earn during the coming year. That doesn't mean that a person can sit with folded hands a whole year, and say, "well, I don't have to do anything, whatever is decreed for me will just come to me." A check will not come flying in through the window. A person must make a "vessel" for the mazel, for G‑d's blessing. The vessel is hard (and honest) work, and prayer that the efforts be blessed from Above. Similarly, we pray that we should have good mazel with our children, while simultaneously working hard to be good parents and directing them in the proper way.

So instead of focusing on the presence or absence of mazel in your life, focus on doing whatever is in your ability to make a living. Make sure to pray properly three times a day to G‑d—the source of all wealth; and give charity to the best of your ability, because that is the best vehicle for financial mazel. And then stop worrying, because our livelihood is in G‑d's hands.

Chaya Sarah Silberberg serves as the rebbetzin of the Bais Chabad Torah Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan, since 1975. She also counsels, lectures, writes, and responds for’s Ask the Rabbi service.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
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Discussion (70)
December 25, 2015
Hahaha you are completely wrong mazal in Hebrew means luck and nozel has nothing to do with it it's a completely different word... Please make sure you post correct things
December 16, 2015
To Anonymous on December 8th
I really do know what you mean. For a long time I tried to be positive. Then I became very angry. At this point I think that there is simply nothing that can be done. G-d does some things that seem very strange to me, and it makes me feel that He does not want me to think He cares, so I don't. I don't get why G-d would do things to make people so sad. If He created us people in a way that not understanding His ways will make us angry, or depressed, or sad, or apathetic, then how can He expect anything but those reactions? Asking Rabbis doesn't help at all. They don't really want to answer questions such as these; or maybe they just can't.
There are people who can rise above their terrible lives, or terrible events that occur in their lives. I have ideas of why they can do that, but I think that's for another time. In the meantime, I hope you can find some peace.
New Jersey
December 8, 2015
For the past 5 years I have tried to be positive and believed that good luck will come my way however it is just getting worse. I just feel that I am falling into a bottomless pit and there's no way back up.
November 17, 2015
Regarding: Bad luck
I'm Still looking for an answer but I did have something of interest pointed out to be. I was born in October and am a Libra (I never really believed in astronomy). But... It seems that my sign shows a scale and as I think back into my past situations I see that some times I have a run of very bad luck and then down the road I have a sign of very good luck (For example, offset my previous financial loss (Not gambling). It's not really a Jewish way of looking at things but very interesting in my situation, wouldn't you agree?
Alan Greenberg
November 16, 2015
I am so angry, yes I lived through a heart attack and Quadruple bypass. Then discovered my carotid was so clogged I should have had a stroke. Instead of going on disability I got well and went back to the job a hate and I mean hate! Now I'm stuck and miserable. The only saving grace I'm blessed with a great living wife. Yet wish I died from that heart attack!
September 20, 2014
Fools have all the good luck.
July 31, 2014
Bad Luck >>>My friend always says:
THIS IS A TEST!...He says this anytime something goes wrong with him.
In other words, maybe G-D puts people in a predicament and then waits to see how you cope with the situation.
I'm OK, and am always ready (Hopefully) for the next test!
I feel that my experiences are minimal compare to what Jews experienced during the "Nazi error" or what Israel always had (Has) to deal with!.
A. Greenberg
July 30, 2014
To bad luck continued:
My goodness, I share your pain. I too have tried to keep my head above water and to push unwanted thoughts out of my head, but it is almost impossible to do so. I AM beginning to think that sometimes bad luck can be connected to having a trusting personality and to assume that no-one will ever do you wrong because you try to be a good person. (This just happened to me this morning, so I'm wearing it on my sleeve). So tt's possible that because a person trusts, they do things that make people, who are generally kind of self-serving for the most part, do them wrong and that seems like bad luck. Of course, this is only talking about bad luck events that happen between people and people. Between people and G-d, I just can't figure out.
July 29, 2014
Bad Luck... Continued
I recently wrote about our (My wife & I) bad luck. This has nothing to do with making money, I'm not looking to get rich or anything like that. However, it does seem that some people we know have great luck & I'm surprised because these people are selfish & self-serving. They have done things that are morally wrong & aren't even good to their parents! I'm wondering if this is "Their" heaven & "Our" hell. If so, at least we have something to look forward to!
We try to stay positive, even making jokes about it. One day I helped a woman that was stuck at the side of the road with car problems. On the way home I said to my wife, "I did a good deed, now watch our car have problems"...
The next day I got a flat tire... Hmmm!
A. Greenberg
July 29, 2014
it is in your hands to change luck!
i would like to say only one thing after reading many of your posts on bad luck! if you keep on thinking you have bad luck and always think negative, then you will only attract it. anyone heard of the law of attraction? attract GOODness by thinking good things, doing good deeds.
i have always been unlucky in making my own money. i worked for family run businesses and they made/make the money i have earned for them. when i ran the business on my name, i made nothing!
but that didn't stop me.
my marriage last year failed completely... on the verge of giving up, i prayed hard. very hard. i thought that ending the marriage as being a GOOD thing, believing that there is a reason why it is ending, because there is goodness waiting for me. a year later, i am still married and our marriage has never been any happier. i thank god as much as possible because HE had helped me through my hardships.
don't give up on praying. things happen for a reason, one day we all will know why life holds hard
leicestershire, uk