Israel – Where Our Trust In G-d Is Tested (part 3 of 4)

It is Necessary for Man to Exert Himself – Jews Will Not Be Magically Brought to Israel, Automatically

A Jew needs to use this time of “free will” to make the choice to come to Israel. The Ramban (Vayikra 18:25) is very clear that the main place to fulfill the mitzvos is in Israel.  He singles out two specific mitzvos of tefilin and mezuzah which are performed by physical actions, specifying that they are fulfilled properly only in Israel.   The main purpose of all the mitzvos is to perform them in Israel.  The purpose of being in galus is just practice for the real purpose in life – to serve G-d via the mitzvos in Eretz Yisrael (Rashi Devarim 11:18, quoting the Sifri).

Those of us in Eretz Yisrael are not in real galus; for sure not in a physical galus.  The term “galus” specifically refers only to Chutz La’aretz.  The Zohar (Vayechi 214b) clarifies this point that it is not called “galus” unless one lives in the non-Jewish lands. The Yalkut Shemuel (92) quotes Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai who taught that “galus” refers to one who is send out of Israel to Chutz La’aretz.

One very weak excuse used to exempt one from Aliyah is the topic of “making a living” or “parnasa“. There is an erroneous concept that G-d is limited in that He cannot provide for our needs in Eretz HaKodesh and can only provide for us in the galus in the gentile lands.  This is false.  We must work wherever we live and G-d decides what our physical reward will be.

 

Why Man Must Exert Himself to Obtain a Parnasa (livelihood)

G-d tests the soul with what will reveal its choices: food drink, clothing, shelter, and relations. He commands us to obtain these requirements in specific ways and at certain times.  What Hashem does not decree, we do not attain.  Thus, by divine decree, the means are withheld from us to obtain things that are not ours.   Our sins עבירות and our spiritual effort עבודה determines our reward and punishment.

If we did not have to trouble and busy ourselves with seeking means of obtaining parnasa, we would rebel and chase after what is forbidden אסור and would therefore not pay attention to what we owe G-d for His goodness to us.

דברים לג:ט”ו

וַיִּשְׁמַן יְשֻׁרוּן וַיִּבְעָט שָׁמַנְתָּ עָבִיתָ כָּשִׂיתָ; וַיִּטּשׁ אֱלוֹ-הַּ עָשָׂהוּ וַיְנַבֵּל צוּר יְשֻֽׁעָתֽוֹ:

And Yeshurun became fat and rebelled; you grew fat, thick and rotund; [Israel] forsook the G-d Who made them, and spurned the [Mighty] Rock of their salvation. (Devarim 32:15).

משניות אבות ב:ב

רבן גמליאל בנו של רבי יהודה הנשיא אומר, יפה תלמוד תורה עם דרך ארץ, שיגיעת שניהם משכחת עון. וכל תורה שאין עמה מלאכה, סופה בטלה וגוררת עון.

Excellent is the study of torah together with a worldly occupation, for labor at both puts sin out of his mind. And all Torah without work will in the end be neglected and lead to sin (Avos 2:2).

Out of mercy for man, G-d preoccupies us with the affairs of this world, so that all our life we should be absorbed in them and not seek what we do not need.

If a person gives priority to the service of G-d and resolves to fear and trust in Him, in all his interests, religious and secular, aspires to good qualities, does not rebel when in comfort; then he will be relieved of the burden of seeking and searching for a parnasa.  Then our parnasa will come to us without trouble, to the extent of our needs and requirements.

משלי י:ג

            לֹֽא יַרְעִיב ה’ נֶפֶשׁ צַדִּיק וְהַוַּת רְשָׁעִים יֶהְדֹּֽף:

Hashem will not starve the soul of the righteous, but the destruction [wrought by] the wicked will cast [them] down. (Mishlei 10:3)

 

When the Righteous are Afflicted and the Wicked Prosper

Some Tzadikim obtain their parnasa only after hard work and toil.  While many transgressors are at ease and pass their lives in prosperity and comfort.  The Prophets ניבאים , have already addressed this controversy.

ירמיהו יב:א

צַדִּיק אַתָּה ה’ כִּי אָרִיב אֵלֶיךָ אַךְ מִשְׁפָּטִים אֲדַבֵּר אוֹתָךְ מַדּוּעַ דֶּרֶךְ רְשָׁעִים צָלֵחָה שָׁלוּ כָּל בּגְדֵי   בָֽגֶד:

You are right, Hashem, when I contend with You, but I will argue with You. Why has the way of the wicked prospered, all who deal with treachery have peace? (Yirmiyahu 12:1).

There is no answer, because the reason for prosperity differs for each and every individual. G-d has a plan and He knows what He is doing.  He is Just and does not make mistakes.

דברים כט:כח

            הַנִּסְתָּרֹת ה אֱלֹקינוּ וְהַנִּגְלֹת ֹלָֹנוֹּ ֹוֹּלְֹבָֹנֵֹיֹנֹוּ, עַד עוֹלָם לַֽעֲשׂוֹת אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּֽאת:

The hidden things belong to Hashem our G-d but those that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever: that we must fulfill all the words of this Torah. (Devarim 29:28).

דברים לב:ד

הַצּוּר תָּמִים פָּֽעֳלוֹ כִּי כָל דְּרָכָיו מִשְׁפָּט; אֵל אֱמוּנָה וְאֵין עָוֶל צַדִּיק וְיָשָׁר הֽוּא:

The Rock, His deeds are perfect, for all His ways are just; a faithful G-d, without injustice He is righteous and upright. (Devarim 32:4).

 

Righteous Men May Find Hardship in Earning a Living, Even in Israel

It may be the consequence of a previously committed sin, for which we now paying the penalty.

משלי יא:לא

            הֵן צַדִּיק בָּאָרֶץ יְשֻׁלָּם, אַף כִּֽי רָשָׁע וְחוֹטֵֽא:

 

Even the righteous get their payment on earth; surely a wicked man and a sinner. (Mishlei 11:31).

Sometimes hardship is in accordance with the principle of compensation for the future reward in Olam Habah. Even Rabbi Elisha Ben Abuya (Acher), did not understand this. Sometimes, hardships come about to learn patience and help one build a positive outlook in the service of G-d, so that other people might learn from us.  This was clearly demonstrated in the case of Iyov.

איוב א:כא

וַיֹּאמֶר עָרֹם יָצָאתִי מִבֶּטֶן אִמִּי וְעָרֹם אָשׁוּב שָׁמָּה ה’ נָתַן ה’ לָקָח, יְהִי שׁם ה’ מְבֹרָֽךְ:

And he said, “From my mother’s womb, I emerged naked, and I will return there naked. Hashem gave and the Hashem took; may the name of Hashem be blessed. (Iyov 1:21)

 

 

Why Might G-d Bestow Favor Upon A Wicked Man?

A wicked person who performs a good deed; G-d rewards him in this world.

דברים ז:י פרשת ואתחנן

            וּמְשַׁלֵּם לְשֽׂנְאָיו אֶל פָּנָיו לְהַֽאֲבִידוֹ לֹא יְאַחֵר לְשׂנְאוֹ אֶל פָּניו יְשַׁלֶּם לֽוֹ:

And He repays those who hate Him, to their face, to cause them to perish; He will not delay the one who hates Him, but he will repay him to his face. (Devarim 7:10)

 

On account of past piety of one’s father, in return, a son may benefit.

תהילים לז:נב

            נַעַר הָיִיתִי גַּם זָקַנְתִּי וְֽלֹא רָאִיתִי צַדִּיק נֶֽעֱזָב וְזַרְעוֹ מְבַקֶּשׁ לָֽחֶם:

I have been young and now am grown old, but I have never seen a righteous man forsaken, or his children begging for bread. (Tehillim 37:25).

 

Choice of Trade and Occupation

Man needs to strive for parnasa. Some ways of earning a parnasa are easy; some entail much trouble and effort. A person who is strong in body is suited for an occupation that demands physical exertion.  One who is strong intellectually should not choose a physically demanding occupation.

Each person has a preference for a particular occupation or business over any other, as G-d has implanted within his nature love and affection for it.   Personality and physiques are predisposed toward certain trades and occupations. Whoever discovers within his personality and nature an attraction to a particular trade, should pursue it and make it his means of livelihood, accepting its sweetness and bitterness.  Let him not be discouraged if his income is denied him on occasion, rather let him trust in G-d that He will provide him with his livelihood all his life.

 

The Intent of the Heart and the Mind

When occupied with earning a parnasa, let our intent be to fulfill the commandment of the Hashem, Who has commanded us to engage in worldly means as it is written:

בראשית ב:ט”ו

וַיִּקַּח ה’ אֱלֹקים אֶת הָֽאָדָם וַיַּנִּחֵהוּ בְגַן עֵדֶן לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָֽהּ:

Hashem, G-d took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to work it and to keep it. (Bereshis 2:15)

He will be rewarded for the intent of his heart and mind to perform these for G-d’s sake, as it is also written:

תהילים קכח:ב

יְגִיעַ כַּפֶּיךָ כִּי תֹאכֵל אַשְׁרֶיךָ וְטוֹב לָֽךְ:

You will eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you will be happy and it will be well with you. (Tehillim 128:2).

משנה אבות ב:יב

רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, יְהִי מָמוֹן חֲבֵרְךָ חָבִיב עָלֶיךָ כְּשֶׁלָּךְ, וְהַתְקֵן עַצְמְךָ לִלְמֹד תּוֹרָה, שֶׁאֵינָהּ יְרֻשָּׁה לָךְ. וְכָל מַעֲשֶׂיךָ יִהְיוּ לְשֵׁם שָׁמָיִם:

Rabbi Yosi says: The money of your friend should be as dear to you as your own. Prepare yourself to study Torah, for it is not an inheritance for you. Let all you deeds be for the sake of Heaven. (Avos 2:12).

Our trust in G-d will remain intact, and we will not be harmed at all by the search for the means of a parnasa, in our heart and mind we intend the for the sake of Heaven.

We should not think that our parnasa depends on a particular source, and that if that source were to fail, there would be no other way for us to earn a parnasa.  Such as thinking that one can ONLY make a living in the USA and not in Israel. Rather, we should rely on G-d for our sustenance and realize that for G-d all the means are equal. He will support us by whatever means and at all times and from whatever element He wishes, as it says:

שמואל א יד:ו

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוֹנָתָן אֶל הַנַּעַר נֹשֵֹא כֵלָיו לְכָה וְנַעְבְּרָה אֶל מַצַּב הָעֲרֵלִים הָאֵלֶּה אוּלַי יַעֲשֶֹה ה’ לָנוּ כִּי אֵין לַָֽה’ מַעְצוֹר לְהוֹשִׁיעַ בְּרַב אוֹ בִמְעָֽט:

And Yehonasan said to the youth, who bore his weapons, “Come, and let us go to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps Hashem will act on our behalf, for with Hashem there is no limitation to save with many or with few.” (Shmuel I, 14:6)

 

דברים ח:יח פרשת עקב

וְזָֽכַרְתָּ אֶת ה’ אֱלֹקֶיךָ כִּי הוּא הַנֹּתֵן לְךָ כֹּחַ לַֽעֲשׂוֹת חָיִל לְמַעַן הָקִים אֶת בְּרִיתוֹ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לַֽאֲבֹתֶיךָ כַּיּוֹם הַזֶּֽה:

But you must remember Hashem your G-d, for it is He that gives you strength to make wealth, in order to establish His covenant which He swore to your forefathers, as it is this day. (Devarim 8:18)

זכריה ד:ו

וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלַי לֵאמֹר זֶה דְּבַר ה’ אֶל זְרֻבָּבֶל לֵאמֹר לֹא בְחַיִל וְלֹא בְכֹחַ כִּי אִם בְּרוּחִי אָמַר ה’ צְבָאֽוֹת:

And he answered and spoke to me, saying, “This is the word of Hashem to Zerubavel, saying: ‘Not by military force and not by physical strength, but by My spirit,’ says Hashem of Hosts. (Zechariah 4:6).

 

Everything Is Predetermined By G-d

One can only attain what is most fitting for his situation for his ultimate good.  No human can exert control over food, shelter, health, or parnasa except with G-d’s permission.  Just as life and death, illness and health are not ultimately in the power of man, neither is parnasa.

 

One Must Take Initiative and Pursue Natural Means

Hashem’s choice for us is the best choice. We must pursue what appears to be the best for us, and G-d will carry out what He has foreordained. We must still work and pursue a parnasa and eat properly. We are not allowed to expose ourselves to danger.

We must preserve our health, eat proper food, wear appropriate clothing and seek shelter. We must pursue parnasa while we trust in G-d, that sustenance is in His power and under his control. He guarantees sustenance to man and provides it to man by whatever means He pleases.  One should not think that the intermediate cause can help or harm him at all.

If one obtains his parnasa by one of the various means that he has employed, he should not grow to rely on that source, becoming enamored and obsessed with it; for then his reliance on G-d will be weakened. He should not think that it can be of more use to me than it had already been determined by Hashem.  We should thank G-d Who gives us parnasa after we work, that He did not allow our toil and trouble to be in vain.

תהילים קכח:ב

            יְגִיעַ כַּפֶּיךָ כִּי תֹאכֵל אַשְׁרֶיךָ וְטוֹב לָֽךְ:

You will eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you will be happy and it will be well with you. (Tehilim 128:2).

If one fails to secure a parnasa by the means he has employed, the reason may be that he already has in his possessions provision for the day, or that it will come to him through other means.

No matter, we must engage in pursuing a parnasa, provided that it is suited to our personality. Place our trust in G-d that He will not abandon us, neglect us, or ignore us.

            נחום א:ז

טוֹב ה’ לְמָעוֹז בְּיוֹם צָרָה וְיֹדֵעַ חֹסֵי בֽוֹ:

 

G-d is a good stronghold on the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him (Nachum 1:7).

Health and illness are based on trust in G-d. We place our trust in G-d, while seeking continued health through natural means.  We fight illness through modern medical practices; however, we do not believe that the natural causes of health and illness can help or harm except with G-d’s permission.

When we trust in G-d, He will cure us of an illness by modern medical means or without such means (a sickness may miraculously pass). G-d may heal by means of something harmful, such as surgery or potent medications.

Pursue Worldly Means Only to Meet One’s Basic Needs

This is the lesson of Aliyah and living in Eretz Yisrael. G-d gives us what we need and we should be truly satisfied and happy with what we have.  One should engage in whatever occupation G-d has prepared for him, to the extent necessary for his maintenance and sustenance, to attain what suffices him in this world.

If G-d ordains more for him, it will come to him without trouble or effort, provided he relies on G-d for it, and does not  overly pursue natural means or rely on them in his heart.

If no more than his subsistence has been decreed for him, even if all those in heaven an on earth were to try to increase it, they would not succeed in any way or by any means. And if he trusts in G-d, he will find peace of mind and tranquility of soul, for his allotted portion will not be transferred to another, nor will it come earlier or later than the appointed time.

G-d, Not the Means One Employs – Gives Wealth

Trust in G-d, In Regard to Livelihood

If parnasa is withheld on occasion, we should say:

“The One Who brought me into this world at a certain time and at a certain moment, neither earlier nor later, He is the one Who withholds from me my parnasa until a certain moment and day, knowing what is best for me.”

So too when parnasa is limited, we should say:

“He provided me, at the start of my life, with my daily food according to my need and enough to sustain me, until replacing it with something better. In the same way, I will suffer no harm on account of the limited minimal, income He now gives me, to end of my days.

Here in Israel, jobs come and go. I have worked at Kaplan hospital fulltime and then got decreased to half-time; my income then increased. I have been part of private surgery clinics that thrive and then decline.  Money comes in and then taxes, VAT, social security may then seemingly take away perceived financial gains.  G-d is clearly in charge.  There is not logical explanation for the financial ups and down in the Holy Land. G-d is testing our trust and faith in Him on a continual basis.

We will be rewarded for this just as we followed G-d in the Desert מדבר.

            ירמיהו ב:ב

הָלֹךְ וְֽקָרָאתָ בְּאָזְנֵי יְרֽוּשָׁלִַם לֵאמֹר כֹּה אָמַר ה’ זָכַרְתִּי לָךְ חֶסֶד נְעוּרַיִךְ אַֽהֲבַת כְּלוּלֹתָיִךְ לֶכְתֵּךְ אַֽחֲרַי בַּמִּדְבָּר בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא זְרוּעָֽה:

Go and call out in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, so said Hashem: I remember to you the loving kindness of your youth, the love of your nuptials, your following Me in the desert, in a land not sown. (Yirmiyahu 2:2).

G-d chooses that my parnasa come to me in the ways most suitable for me, and not in other ways.

 

תהילים קמה:יז

            צַדִּיק ה’ בְּכָל דְּרָכָיו וְחָסִיד בְּכָל מַֽעֲשָֽׂיו:

G-d is just in all his ways, and kind in all His deeds. (Tehilim 145:17)

About the Author
Arie E. Pelta, M.D., a Board Certified General and Colorectal Surgeon from the USA , made aliyah with his wife and 7 children in 2013. He is also a active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Currently practicing in Laniado Hospital in Netanya; speciaizing in the surgical care of all problems of the colon, rectum and anus.
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