Sari Cohen, Beis Moshiach
“You won’t believe it,” a friend told me, after an in-depth conversation with her business advisor.
“Deep down, I’ve already gotten used to running my financial affairs on a survival basis. My sense of awareness has been firmly bound to this situation – overdrafts, debts, loans, etc. All this and more tells you one thing: I’m just fearful of money!”
“Fearful?” I asked her.
“Yes. Look, on the one hand, I really like comfort and security, buying things, giving with an open hand, etc. However, it always comes from a position of ‘I don’t have’, i.e., I withdraw money, use my credit card, checks, loans, and the like, but truly, I simply don’t have it. What’s more peculiar is that even on those rare occasions when I do have a little “extra” money left, as it were (in my line of credit – yes, don’t get confused…), I am consumed by a very uncomfortable feeling as if there was something wrong here… ‘What is this? I’m not supposed to have any money…’”
Wow! It was simply amazing to reveal anew these hidden deep-rooted levels within us that have seemingly slipped past the radar, wielding a powerful influence over our daily lives!
You have surely realized by now that the manner in which we relate to all aspects of our lives is not by chance! It is influenced directly by the beliefs and outlooks that our minds have accumulated over the years…
In the following article, we touch upon a thrilling and unseen aspect that influences how we relate to money matters.
THE COMFORT OF SAYING“I DON’T HAVE”
“It’s quite easy to get addicted to an endless and unlimited situation of ‘I have no (ein li) money,’ says Rabbi Tzvi Silver, financial advisor and author of Penny-Ante Psychology. “In contrast, the ‘yesh’ is something measured, limited, and extremely practical, i.e., I have X dollars – no more, no less…”
“The true ‘Ein’ in Yiddishkeit is the Hashem – ‘Ein Keilokeinu’, ‘Ein Od Milvado.’ And why? Because this ‘Ein’ is limitless!
“A person who manages his finances according to the ‘vicious cycle’ of loans, debts, etc. will reveal with a little inner contemplation how unrealistic it sounds that it’s ‘comfortable’ for him to remain in a place of ‘ein’ because there are no limitations there. For if I have nothing in any case, what difference does it make if I’m $5,000 in debt or $5,500? I’ll charge another five hundred on my credit card. Everything’s fine…
“When you live with the ‘yesh’ one encounters the limitations…and a person naturally enjoys his freedom.
“This is what explains the absurd situation that even though a person ‘doesn’t have’, he continues to expend more – via credit cards or checks – and this increases the size of his overdraft, etc. This causes pain to the person, as he eventually is punishing himself.”
THE SUPPOSED “FREEDOM” WITHIN THE REDUCTION
Nevertheless, people tend to conduct their household economy in this fashion because it’s much ‘easier’ to live with it, as we noted in another article that when a person directs his strengths towards increasing his income, we see which frameworks and principles he adopts. As a result, he chooses the supposed “freedom” within the reduction.
The approach of reducing expenses says in effect, “Come into the house, close the doors and windows, and say ‘No’ to any and all expenses. A kind of ‘Sit and do nothing.’ In contrast, when a person is expected to increase his income, he must ‘open the doors and windows’ – rise up and take a-c-t-i-o-n = start dealing with the situation! Above all, you should begin to reveal and work with your temperament…”
MONEY IS NOT A BAD THING
There are people whose viewpoint in matters relating to money is that money is a negative thing that can cause harm, etc.
In addition, there are those who believe that their complicated financial state is a Heavenly decree, and there is nothing they can do to make things better.
They say that Hashem showed Moshe Rabbeinu three things with fire: the menorah, the half-shekel, and the image of the moon. What is the fiery example in relation to money?
Fire, if you get too close to it, can burn and consume you. In contrast, if we keep too far away, it won’t be possible to use it to cook or get warm. Thus, if it gets closer, by pursuing and worshipping money – it is liable to cause you harm! On the other hand, if you distance yourself from it too much, it won’t be very useful nor will it serve you well.
“This matter relates to one of the greatest concepts in Avodas Hashem: there’s a very ‘comfortable’ place for an observant Jew to blame his laziness in the matter of parnassa on Yiddishkeit and turn it into a kind of spiritual prominence, martyrdom, abstinence from materialism…
“The highest form of Avodas Hashem, however, is to subjugate the highest form of materialism – money, and transform it into holiness.
“Hashem created the world in such a way that money is a most essential necessity, which seemingly stands in contradiction to spiritual life. And here comes our avoda to make a ‘match’ between them in the best possible way, connecting materialism with spirituality.”
“HASHEM, I ACQUIRED A LOAN… I’VE WORKED THINGS OUT!“
Rabbi Silver continues:
“There’s a very simple question through which we can check precisely whether you are truly serving Hashem by these catch-phrases (‘That’s what Hashem decreed upon me’ or ‘I will manage with little’), or you are essentially running away from taking action:
“This is the question: Are you happy with your lot in life or are you complaining? Complaints don’t go well with saying ‘This situation is a Divine decree, and therefore, I don’t make any efforts in matters of parnassa.’ If you really believe that this is the budget Hashem decreed that you should have, then why aren’t you happy about it?’
“Here’s another question for your personal analysis: What happens when you have to buy food for your children, and you don’t have the funds on hand? Do you use your credit card? Do you add it to your bill at the grocery store? Do you pay with a post-dated check?
“If you say that you have been destined to live in poverty, then why are you taking out a loan? A loan is a way of saying to the Creator, so to speak: ‘I “provide” for myself those things that You don’t help me to obtain.’
“The loan stands on the place of “my strength and the might of my hand”, because Hashem isn’t telling you to take out loans!”
TURNING THE CONTRADICTION INTO FULLNESS
“This is a most delicate point,” Rabbi Silver clarified. “The Ramban writes: ‘That which Hashem decrees is the ultimate truth, and will always happen, and any attempt to try to get away from what Hashem decrees is a falsehood, it will never happen.’
“If Hashem decrees a certain matter upon us, then why the need to make an effort and be diligent, as if we can overrule the decree?… In fact, we’re talking here about the faith of a Jew, summarizing the whole concept of parnassa.
“The components of Avodas Hashem in parnassa matters are on the level of a total inner contradiction: Bitachon and Trust in Hashem on the one hand, an obligation to make an effort in making a living on the other.
“These two concepts stand in direct contradiction to one another, and Hashem gives us the strength and ability to transform this contradiction into a sense of fullness.
“The person is expected to bear these two opposites: On the one hand, working and striving diligently in parnassa – “Six days you shall labor”, etc., as if there is no Divine decree. However, in his mind, knowing absolutely that he is not the one who brings the parnassa! All that he receives comes from Hashem, and even if he does nothing, Hashem will provide for him.
“If such is the case, this immediately begs the question: Why do I have to do anything? The answer is: Because Hashem created the world in such a way that the miracle is hidden and concealed. Specifically through our avoda in the world, making an effort and meeting the challenge of feeling that ‘my strength and the might of my hand’, etc., we sanctify and reveal Hashem’s presence in material existence.
“In other words, looking at money in a proper and healthy manner requires that we consider it a means, not an objective. A means through which we can purify and bring it to the very highest and loftiest of places. And at an earlier stage, living humbly and with great thanks to Hashem that everything comes from Him and in His merit, we develop a close inner connection to the Creator.”
ECONOMIC SECURITY VS. TRUST IN HASHEM
“There exists in Yiddishkeit the concept of the financially independent, i.e., those who experience the connection to Hashem at every moment. Those who are self-employed and therefore know and feel that parnassa truly comes from Hashem.
“In contrast, the salaried employee lives with economic security – when his promised monthly salary comes through in an orderly fashion. Yet, he still has the avoda of ‘peeling away the kelipos’ and reaching a true sense of faith in Hashem.
“If we were to listen to the quiet prayers of the salaried employee, what would we hear him say? ‘May my salary come on time’, ’May my employer not fire me’, etc. – constantly referring to matters of flesh and blood.
“Whereas, someone financially independent constantly speaks directly to Hashem. ‘Hashem, plese send me customers,’ ‘Hashem, please make help me get that contract,’ etc. Therefore, if we return to the starting point – people prefer to live in a place of survival, taking loans, etc., because they don’t need to deal with the higher and more spiritual challenge facing a Jew – ‘Hashem, your G-d, will bless you in all that you do,’ i.e., acting coupled with the faith that it’s not me.”
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS!
“This is the time to contemplate and reveal all the unique talents that Hashem has given us for our specific shlichus in the world. Starting to realize them in actual practice! Hashem thereby opens the vast and limitless material wealth He has to spoil us!
“We examine our total faith in Hashem that there is simply none else aside from Him! We internalize the fact that we are worthy of His revealed and abundant good with joy and health! Because we are the sons of kings”.
not to be embittered because of them. ■
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