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Philanthropist to the Sage: “Pray to G-d for Money”

Philanthropist to the Sage: “Pray to G-d for Money”

Philanthropist Isaac Shalom, of blessed memory.
Philanthropist Isaac Shalom, of blessed memory.

In the first half of the 20th century, Rabbi Avraham Hecht, then rabbi of Congregation Shaare Zion, one of New York City’s largest synagogues, arrived at the offices of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory with Mr. Isaac Shalom, one of Sephardic Jewry’s greatest philanthropists. Rabbi Hecht hoped that the philanthropist could assist the Chabad-Lubavitch community with their work on behalf of Jewish education.

Mr. Shalom, a Syrian Jew, made his fortune from manufacturing handkerchiefs. Nevertheless, he considered his most valuable work to be assisting Jews in Middle Eastern countries to obtain a Jewish education. From New York he funded numerous Jewish institutions in countries such as Egypt and Lebanon.

Until this day Mr. Shalom’s name invokes admiration, in a community famed for giving charity, for his renowned philanthropy and vision. In the tradition of Syrian Jewry, Mr. Shalom held a tangibly deep faith in G‑d.

Mr. Shalom asked, "Lubavitcher Rebbe, I do not understand you. Why don’t you write a letter to G‑d asking Him to send you the money." In an early 1950’s meeting with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Mr. Shalom asked, "Lubavitcher Rebbe, I do not understand you. Why don’t you write a letter to G‑d asking Him to send you the money that Rabbi Hecht says you need to continue your good work?"

In his thick Syrian accent, Mr. Shalom explained that he was certain if only the great sage would write to G‑d, his wish would surely be fulfilled, removing all financial concerns.

The Rebbe responded, "Mr. Shalom, if I would write such a letter to G‑d, I would be asking him to take away my job!"

It is important for us to remember not to give up on what we, the citizens of the world, need to perfect this world. We need to toil in order to make a difference, and not pray that G‑d do everything for us.

As told by Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht, Rabbi Avraham’s brother, in a September 1987 speech.

Dovid Zaklikowski is a freelance journalist living in Brooklyn. Dovid and his wife Chana Raizel are the proud parents of four: Motti, Meir, Shaina & Moshe Binyomin.
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Anonymous July 23, 2012

Zara What if I pray to Hashem for a better job? Or for a beautiful house? Is it wrong? Can I ask him to be generous to me and my child as I am a single mother raising my child alone and need support from G-d. He can't transfer me money but he can make me to find better job, to find good deals, some extra bonuses? Can't he? He hears when people in need ask him, doesn't he? Reply

What is the point Margate , florida September 2, 2011

Great , The Rebbe didn't want his job ? While I understand the concept of mission the concept is one where anything can be on a mission . Man made mission are assigned to us everyday by the work we do. Can we really say we are doing G-d mission by the type of work we do?
Especially when the work bites us . How about soldiers , are they doing G-d work or the mission for a country . Rarely are they the same . I guess the soldier who died or die have done G-d 's work and their work is over . You have too many holes in what is G-d mission and man's mission. This could be solved by more instruction on how to be aware of G-d s 'mission for us , and how to keep on this track .


Raphaela Sorkin Foster City, California September 1, 2011

Pray to G-D for Money? People say that if we pray for health it's the same thing as praying for money. I am just wondering about people's priorities! I do think that without health you can't have money. Even though all of us need the money to survive, we should probably not ask G-D for money, but instead ask him not to forget us when he generously donates health, luck, longevity, good fortune to the world and his people. I think that would be more appropriate, than just saying " give me some money". I am also wondering, how he is supposed to send you this money? It's a long distance service!!! Reply

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