I was standing in line in the mini-market when the woman in front of me started to argue with the cashier. "That can't be right. Please total up my items again," she argued. He added up the items again - a loaf of bread, a carton of milk, two containers of cottage cheese, and two ice popsicles. No, the amount was as he said. "But it can't be," she again protested as she took the money out of her wallet. "Money is like water, like water." I empathized as I looked at my own items and thought about the dwindling cash supply in my pocketbook.

I hear people saying, "What will be, what will be?"For the first time, watching the gasoline prices soar, I am actually thankful that we can't afford to buy a car. I'm incredibly grateful that we have food to eat, clothing to wear, and a roof over our heads. Nothing is lacking as I carefully budget, trying to maximize every penny; but I still can't stop worrying and stop the anxiety from creeping into my heart, as salaries are reduced and the cost of living continues to rise. I hear people saying, "What will be, what will be?" Yes, what will be, I, too, ask myself, as the value of the dollar falls and our income falls along with it.

When Adam and Eve, the first Man and Woman, sinned by eating from the prohibited tree, they, along with the serpent who enticed Eve to sin, each received a punishment. G‑d punished the serpent, "…dust shall you eat all the days of your life" (Genesis 3:14). To the Woman, G‑d said, "I will greatly increase your suffering and your pregnancy; in pain shall you bear children..." (ibid 3:16). And to the Man, "…through suffering shall you eat of it (the ground) all the days of your life…By the sweat of our brow shall you eat bread until you return to the ground…" (ibid 3:19). When you compare the punishment of Man to the punishment of the serpent, it appears that Man received a much harsher punishment. After all, dust is everywhere. The serpent is able to find its food wherever it goes and without any effort, while Man must work and toil and only receive his livelihood by the sweat of his brow. The commentators, however, explain that the serpent actually received the worst punishment of the three.

Ten years ago, my husband worked in the garment industry and things in his business were very difficult. He always paid his employees on Fridays. But one week, there simply was no money to pay his workers. He wrote a check to another merchant and asked him to give him cash for the value of the check which was post-dated for the following Monday. He paid his workers and then came home that Friday with a heavy heart. My husband told me how he turned to G‑d in prayer, and said, "Help me." Shabbat arrived and my husband received it with the same love as he does every Friday evening. Shabbat ended, Sunday passed and Monday arrived, the day the merchant was supposed to cash the check. When my husband arrived at his office there was another check waiting for him from a client. The amount was exactly the same as the amount he needed to cover the check.

Their livelihood and their biggest blessing - children - would come only with pain and toilWhen G‑d cursed the serpent, it was as though He was saying, "I'm providing you with food everywhere you go so that you will never have to call upon me, because I want nothing to do with you." By making the serpent's life so "easy," G‑d was essentially distancing Himself from the serpent, and this is the worst possible curse that there is. Man and Woman, on the other hand, were punished with curses that would require their constant contact with, and direct dependency on, G‑d. Their livelihood and their biggest blessing - children - would come only with pain and toil, but a pain and toil that connected them to G‑d. Our livelihood and our biggest blessings give us the means to bring us closer and closer to our Creator. I remind myself of this as I see the falling dollar and I call out to G‑d, "Help me."

Editor’s Note: We ask that the readers please pray for the safe return of the author’s brother-in-law, David ben Frida, who was kidnapped coming back from synagogue last week. He lives in Mexico City and is the father of four small children.

UPDATE: We are thrilled to report that David ben Frida was released on Shabbat, November 1, and is now home safe with his family.