Income and Finances

Heaven-Sent Bread

We learn an important new word in Hebrew today - hishtadlus, or effort. The age-old question that each of us has is how much hishtadlus must one do in making a living? What's the relationship between hishtadlus and bitachon, between effort and trust in Hashem? Our sages teach that the material we incorporate in today's lesson is a major income-enhancer.

Get Your Heaven-Sent Bread - Today!

210. Heaven sent bread
"Parshat HaMan", which you'll find in Exodus 16:4-36 as part of the Torah portion "B'Shalach", is the account of the manna falling from heaven, the heavenly sustenance that Hashem fed the Children of Israel during the 40 years that they wandered in the desert. The special attribute of Parshat HaMan is that it unlocks the secret of an easy income.

Hashem gives us a free choice as to how we'll receive our income: If we choose to incorporate emuna – the pure and steadfast belief in Hashem – in our efforts to earn our daily bread, then we are assured an easy income. If we seek our income without emuna, and opt for a life of wage slavery, then Hashem allows us to seek our money in natural means. This way, especially with the economic situation what it is today puts a person in big trouble. Without Hashem, heaven forbid, a person is at the mercy of numerous cruel factors in a cold and cutthroat world, such as inflation, tight job market, competition, dishonest employers, clients that don't pay their bills, breakdowns – you name it.

Parshat HaMan begins with Hashem telling Moses, "I shall rain upon you food from heaven; let the people go out and gather each day's portion daily, so that I can test them whether they shall follow my Torah or not."

Hashem gives the Children of Israel a lesson in emuna, a lesson in trust – bitachon. Rashi explains that if the people will trust Hashem, and live according to His commandments, then they'll have their daily bread effortlessly, like princes in the royal palace.

Our sages teach us that a person with emuna and bitachon, complete belief and trust in Hashem, who has so much faith in Hashem to the extent that he believes that his daily bread will be delivered to his doorstep just like food from heaven, will have such an effortless income.

Most people can't believe in anything other than the might of their hand or the sweat of their brow. Yet, when a human depends on himself, he has nothing other than a wobbly reed to lean on, because even the slightest one-celled virus can totally incapacitate him, as the lesson of the COVID pandemic so painfully teaches. If we look at the world with even slightly spiritual eyes, we see that we're totally dependent on Hashem. If a person thinks that he or she is dependent on their own strengths and abilities, then spiritually, they're on the level of an ox pulling a plow. Physically and emotionally, their lives will become just as difficult.

Our sages teach that Hashem provides an easy livelihood for those who trust in Him. Trusting in Hashem means that we also do what He wants us to do, such as observing the Sabbath and dealing fairly with others. Many people think they can't make a living without doing shtick and try to generate income with dishonest dealings and going against Hashem's will. Ultimately, they end up losing what they have with breakdowns, sicknesses, and even lawsuits and jail sentences.

We should all be praying every day that Hashem should strengthen emuna and attain the level of bitachon where we can learn Torah more and work less, so that we too can experience the wonderful feeling of an income just as pleasurable as gathering heaven-sent bread, amen!

Today, Tuesday of the B'Shalach week, is an opportune day for saying Parshat HaMan, twice in Mikra and once is Targum, which you'll find here in Hebrew and here in Artscroll's English translation.

Here is the podcast of the above post for those who prefer to listen. Download your own free mp3 copy here to share with others and to listen on your own device.

A Debt-Free Chanukah

Debt-Free Chanukah
With COVID lockdowns and unemployment, many people are having a rough time. They can barely afford the the weekly food bill, much less the electric bill and the mortgage. One would think that Chanukah would fill everyone's heart with joy, but many ask, “How can we afford Chanukah gifts?” 

Let's set the record straight: “Gifts”, from a Jewish standpoint, is part of Purim, not Chanukah. Even then, the gifts consist of food baskets to friends and money to the poor. Gifts on Chanukah are an imitation of the non-Jewish custom at this time of the year. The real celebration of Chanukah is lighting candles and singing songs of praise and thanksgiving to Hashem. So, it's definitely not a mitzva to go into more credit-card debts by buying gifts for Chanukah. 

A couple I knew suffered from acute financial difficulties. Neither husband nor wife lived on a budget or knew how to plan one. They were buying Chanukah gifts left and right – on credit, of course, with the false type of emuna that says, “Hashem will provide.” Meanwhile, they continued spending money they didn't have, indiscriminately on frills and needless items. That was really unfortunate, especially in light of the fact that the husband and wife were quite compatible. If Hashem put them under the chuppa together, then they are surely soulmates. They didn't have to be miserable, especially when some simple guidance could help them be happy.

The Talmud is well aware of the havoc that money problems create in a marital relationship. Our sages said that "Whenever a woman lacks wheat in her silo, she immediately screams". No wife enjoys looking at bare cupboards.

To help folks with money problems to sleep more peacefully at night, I made a list of some important pointers for avoiding financial trouble, not only during Chanukah, but all year long:

  1. Sit down with your spouse and make a list of all your monthly income and expenses.
  2. Arrange your expenses in order of priority, highest to lowest.
  3. If your expenses exceed the income, start deleting the lowest priority expenses until you balance the budget. That includes the Chanukah gifts you can't afford.
  4. Don't use charge cards and don't buy on credit unless you have money in the bank to back up your purchases. Credit cards should be used only as a means for not having to carry around a lot of cash. What's more, credit purchases are questionable according to religious law, because of interest payments. 
  5. Avoid impulse buying; look at all the junk you've accumulated over the years, and think about how many things you purchased on a whim, that really add nothing to your life. Sell or get rid of whatever you don’t need in the service of Hashem.
  6. Remember that The Almighty gives you everything you need in life; But, He does not provide you with a stipend for "keeping up with the Jones". Spiritually, debt stems from things you don't really need.
  7. Our sages teach that "Happy is the person who is satisfied with what he/she has". Don't expect material possessions to satiate spiritual or emotional hunger.
  8. Try walking and using public transportation. Try getting rid of the extra car, you'll save time, money, and improve your health. If you live in the city, you probably don't need a car at all.
  9. Don't save on Jewish education - the Talmud promises that you'll be refunded to the last cent. The message of Chanukah is to shun Hellenism and to educate our children in the way of our holy forefathers.
  10. Give at least 10% of your net income to charity. The Almighty is more than happy to give you $1,000,000 when He knows that you'll give $100,000 to charity.
  11. Eat naturally; by cutting out fast food, convenience food and manufactured food you;ll save tons of money and better your health.
  12. Teach your children to perform household and garden chores; let them earn their spending money. It's great for their education and saves on domestic help. Unspoiled kids are less likely to fall into financial trouble when they grow up.
  13. Husbands – honor and respect your wives! This Gemara promises that this will will make you rich. 
  14. Never lose your temper, especially on Chanukah. Anger causes financial difficulties. Rebbe Nachman teaches that oftentimes when a person is about to receive riches, he or she is tested with anger. If they pass the test and don’t lose their temper, they are rewarded with a gift of abundance from Above.

May you be blessed with a wonderful income and a continued Happy Chanukah!

Million-Dollar Chizuk

How would you like to have an adequate income of all the money you need whenever you need it? Today's podcast is a signed check from our sages; take 3 minutes to hear about it, and G-d willing, you too will have a plentiful income.

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