12 Cheshvan 5782 / Monday, October 18, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
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The Real Provider

When we study the message of Chanukah, we’ll discover the master key to earning a good living.


When we study the message of Chanukah, we’ll discover the master key to earning a good living. 


In one of his Torah Wellsprings weekly publications, Rabbi Elimelech Biderman notes that the  Gemara says  Chanukah  candles should burn from sunset until there aren't any people  in the marketplace. This is a unique description that is not found elsewhere in the Talmud. What it basically means is that the candles should burn for half an hour, but the Gemara didn't write it in these simple terms. 


Rebbe Moshe Leib Sassover answered that until there are no more people in the marketplace suggests that the Chanukah lights should influence people not to rely on their own efforts to earn an income. It will encourage them to spend less time in the marketplace, and instead to use their time for Torah and prayer. 


Constant Miracles 


In the daily Shemonah Esrei, we thank Hashem “for the miracles and for the wonders that you perform for us each day. Every day Hashem performs miracles for us. When we light the Chanukah candles, we remember the miracles that G-d  performed way back when,  and  the miracles that He continues to do for us each day. In fact, the famous commentary by the Ramban on Parshat Bo states that the purpose of miracles is to teach us that everything that happens in our lives is a miracle and Hashem is our  true  Benefactor. 


Among the many miracles is how Hashem provides income for everyone.  Certainly,  we  must  make our own efforts, but ultimately the source of our livelihood is G-d Himself. He arranges income for everyone in wondrous ways. The purpose of our efforts at work is to create a vessel to receive Hashem’s blessings. There's no need to obsess, worry, or work excessive hours. We just need make a reasonable effort and put our trust in Hashem. 


The Chanukah miracle shows that Hashem can turn a little into a lot, because there was only enough oil for one day and yet it lasted for eight days. Hashem performs similar miracles when it comes to income. Like the oil in the menorah, a little bit of income can stretch and last longer than expected. 


Even while engaged in work, the mind should always have an awareness of Hashem. We should not be so involved with our income and so anxious about financial matters  that  we completely  forget  Hashem. One way to do this is to pause and pray before each task and then thank Hashem for every success. This will ensure that you don't forget Hashem and will bring great blessing into everything you do. 


We’re working for free. 


Rebbe Nachman told a story about a beggar who was directed to a house where he thought he would get free food but was told by the homeowner that he would have to chop wood for several hours. Finally, when he had completed his required labor and was ready to keel over from exhaustion and hunger, he was sent to a soup kitchen across the street. When he subsequently complained that he wasn't getting enough food to eat after working so hard, the manager of the soup kitchen surmised that he had previously gone to the wrong location. He assured the poor man he’d receive plenty of food and added that he wanted him to recognize one important fact: “Just as you worked across the street for nothing, so here you eat for nothing!” 


It's true. All of us work for free and we eat for free. We think our employers provide our wages, but it’s really Hashem who provides our livelihood. 


Chanukah and Income 


In a lecture from Rabbi Daniel Lapin, I learned that Chanukah has several allusions to commerce and making  an income. 


The Hebrew word for store” (chanut) has the same root as Chanukah. Moreover, Chanukah has within it the word chayn, which means favor or grace. When people engage in business in accordance with Jewish law, and in an ethical manner, this finds favor and grace in the eyes of Hashem. 


We give our children money or Chanukah gelt as a reward for effort in Torah learning.  


There are 36 candles that we light for Chanukah. Take 36 times 10. This equals 360 which is the numerical  equivalent of Shechem where our ancestor Jacob lived. In the Gemara it says that while residing there, he created minted currency and commercial markets.  


Our Sages say that during the time of Chanukah the Greeks impoverished us. Our loyalty to Hashem and our trust in Him is the key to overcoming poverty.  


The Maccabees made a heroic effort to liberate the Land of Israel and restore the Holy Temple. The lesson of the candles miraculously burning eight days is to teach us that while we should certainly honor the valor of the Jewish warriors, the victory was really secured by Hashem.  


Similarly, while we need to make an effort to make a living, we should realize that success is not in our hands. Income comes from our Father in Heaven. Our job is to do our best but not to worry and obsess. Rather we should trust in Hashem Who is the true Provider. 

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