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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.
About the artist: Sarah Kranz has been illustrating magazines, webzines and books (including five children’s books) since graduating from the Istituto Europeo di Design, Milan, in 1996. Her clients have included The New York Times and Money Marketing Magazine of London.
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Discussion (60)
July 23, 2014
Thank you
Great - so very helpful. It makes you think and it put things in perspective.

Most grateful here.

Thank you,

London, UK
July 13, 2014
This is beautiful, helped me makes sense of things. Thank you :)
Vancouver, Canada
January 8, 2014
I always try to make contact to the god from my heart ...since my childhood
ahmedabad ,india
January 6, 2014
Bad Luck
Although Jews are the Chosen ones, they seem to have more than their share of bad luck (Me included). My wife (Non-Jewish) probably never did a bad thing in her life and she has had the worst luck I've ever seen Even when she tried to convert to Judaism she had bad luck... The Rabbi gave her a hard time because he told her that Moses wast the first Jew and she disagreed and said Abraham was... The Rabbi (Reform) threw her out of the class, now she's hesitant about trying again.
A. Greenberg
January 5, 2014
:) People have written books on this topic but you were able to explain the whole think in a few sentences. Thank you.
Ana León
December 30, 2013
no religion
Can make no comment as my luck is schizophrenic. Life and luck the same. Sending me that way completely. Focus on this second in time. Worry about this second in time. Enjoy this second in time, and most importantly learn from this second in time. Then move on to the next second and so on. Fill up your seconds in life and fully appreciate them. Then take a little time out anywhere and take the deepest breath you can. Relax. Then get on with the next second. Unfortunately its life, religious or not.
October 22, 2013
True flow
I congratulate Sarah for speaking about Mazel and inspiring others. Many religions and philosophies, even science at some point, speak about a Flow which comes to us, surround our bodies, minds and actions, influence the world we create for us and seems to be able to impregnate us in some ways if we know how to draw it and accept it.

From someone in Japan or China talking about how to use a Toki-Moai changed his/her luck for ever to someone in Brazil speaking about how Iemanjá flowers offer changed his/her life, many speak the same. Thousands believe their lives changed because of something like that, I they have reason.

Even if the source of the Flow is differently explained or assigned, it is recognizable across boundaries and is there.

We perhaps don't have a Toki-Moai or need it, or we don't believe in Iemanja, but we should give a better look on Mazel and how to inspire it , this may open many interesting doors. Well done Sarah
Rennee Yudka
Florida US
October 17, 2013
Given a Second Chance
I believe there is a G-d. In 2006 I had a minor operation in a hospital. I had my gall bladder removed. By mistake, the laser hit my small intestine and made a large hole in it. The doctors did not pay attention and closed up my stomach. The next day I fell into a coma and septic shock. No one believed that I would come out of the coma. My family was told to prepare for a funeral. Well, needless to say, I woke up. I was given a second chance in life. It wasn't my time to go. HaShem was with me and did not abandon me in my time of need. I thank G-d every morning for bringing me back to life. I feel very lucky because I got to see 2 of my sons get married and now I have 4 grandchildren. However, I have no luck financially. I do not pray to be super wealthy. But it would be nice to have enough money to be able to help my 3 sons and my grandchildren and to have enough money left over for when I will be on pension. I wish everyone could fulfill the same dream I have.
August 30, 2013
Pray for food and get a snake
I am over 60 now and always had bad luck. I am well educated in International business and finance but was never able to really make a living on my own. I had very little luck when I decided to become self-employed in International business and in the end my partner cheated me out of my business. When things went wrong I used to pray to God but it looked like as if he was never there as I never received what I was praying for but things only got worse. When I asked for bread I was happy when I received a Stone because there were times I received a Snake. My live has been like "The law of Murphy" and "Anything that could go wrong, would go wrong".

Now I am praying and see things in a different way and thank him every morning when I wake up for given me a new day which is the best gift of all. I am no longer restless waiting for his grace in the form of funds, maybe it was not my destiny to become rich even when I have the education therefore.
June 27, 2013
Bad Luck
Viktor Frankl, writing of what he learned in concentration camp said that, no matter how difficult one's circumstances, nor how little freedom there is to alter them, one important choice remains, that of deciding on one's attitude and taking the suffering upon oneself. There is no luck and HaShem is not a penny-in-the-slot machine to be ordered or cajoled into satisfying our wishes. Better we set about dealing with matters and keep an open mind to discover the ways in which encouragement and support come to us as we struggle along. With sympathetic wishes that it will all work out for you. I'm in the same situation.
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