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Pulling the Strings    

Pulling the Strings

It seems like our income is determined by the company, the boss, or the clients – but only Hashem is in charge! Only He decides if we get hired, or fired…


In tough economic times, it’s especially important to remember that Hashem alone is in charge of our parnassah, our livelihood.


One day earlier this week, I took the bus to and from work, even though I usually drive. A friend of mine got on the bus at the stop after mine. After the usual chit-chat, she started pouring out her work woes to me.
It turns out that her boss gave her a large project on Friday at 1:30PM, only an hour before she had to leave to make it home in time for Shabbat. He then proceeded to ask her to come in on Saturday so the project could be done by Monday morning.  My friend has worked in the same office for more than three years, and her boss knew very well that she was unable to fulfill his request.
Instead, she came in on Sunday and worked the entire day, and then some. But at the end of the day, instead of being grateful (mind you, she is salaried, so there is no overtime paid here) - her boss chewed her out completely for not being able to come in on Saturday as well! She also told me she was terrified to request time off for the Passover holiday, since it falls in the middle of a large project and her boss had already made it clear that if she wasn’t there during that time, there wasn’t much reason for her to come in at all.
After discussing various ways she could address the issue, I gently reminded her that her parnassah (income) comes completely from Hashem, and that her boss has absolutely no power over her. “Whatever hishtadlus (personal effort) you need to do, you should do,” I said, “but remember that Hashem alone is in charge of the outcome. Place all your trust in Him alone, and not in Human Resources or anyone else. If you fear Hashem, and you keep doing your best to keep His commandments, including Shabbat – then you have absolutely nothing to fear from your boss or anyone else. If Hashem wants you to stay in this position, your boss can't touch you. Even if they do fire you, it is from Hashem – He can give you parnassah from wherever He pleases, be it this job or another. Don’t budge in your emuna, and let Hashem take care of it.”   We then parted ways to head to our respective offices.
Upon arrival at my office, I noticed a farewell email from one of the women in my department. “Strange,” I thought to myself, “I didn’t hear anything about her leaving.” Upon further (very quiet) investigation, I discovered that her position was “permanently eliminated” with basically no notice. Later in the afternoon, I discovered that another co-worker of mine had also been let go under similar circumstances a few weeks before.
At that point, the full magnitude of the hashkacha pratis – guiding hand of Hashem – hit me like a ton of bricks. You see, the other co-worker was my boss only a few months ago, and he was difficult to say the least. The woman who got fired also didn’t like me, and I was pretty sure that together, they were quietly complaining about me and trying to get me into trouble, adding fuel to the fire since I was already in the midst of severe personal issues that left me struggling to continue my work pace.
As I returned to my desk, my mind was reeling. During that difficult time, I had prayed so hard that Hashem protect me from them, using the same formula I had recommended to my friend that morning. Baruch Hashem, I was not fired, and on Hoshana Rabba (the day when the judgment of the New Year is dispatched), I found out that my department was being moved under different management. This also resulted in my cube being moved away from these two particularly problematic individuals, and the complaints against me ceased. I thanked Hashem profusely for completely saving me from the situation and put it behind me.
But Hashem didn’t put it behind Him. Only a few months later, they are now gone. Everyone else in my department is still here, I am still here, and they are not. They tried to get me fired, and middah k’neged middah – measure for measure – Hashem had them fired. This wasn’t something I had asked for at all – it is never a good idea to call for justice or for the punishment of others, for who knows who might have something against you? I only asked that Hashem not let them harm me and take care of my monetary needs.   Although I am not celebrating their forced departure (albeit somewhat relieved), it was a poignant reminder that in the end, Hashem settles the score.
On my way home I was thinking about the events of the morning, when this same friend from that morning gets on the bus! Thankfully, the Human Resources department did take care of the situation, and even approved her Passover days off, reminding her that she works for the company and not the boss and they would continue to accommodate her religious needs. I smiled and said “Don’t forget - you work for Hashem! Trust Him and He helps.”   She agreed and said she was so grateful to Hashem, she plans on sponsoring Kiddush at her synagogue since her boss specifically targeted her Sabbath observance, and said she would call to invite me.
Hashem specifically orchestrated all these events to happen on the same day to drive home an important message, one that is not only applicable to my own life – that Hashem, and only Hashem, is in control of our jobs (and everything else for that matter). It is very easy, especially in hard times, to feel that other people control our fate – our bosses, the human resource department, staffing companies, interviewers. Sometimes, it even feels completely out of control, that market forces beyond anyone’s power is creating chaos that threatens to completely envelop us. While it is natural to be anxious and afraid, we must be grateful for whatever we do have, and remember that as long as we have emuna in Hashem, there is nothing to fear.
Even more, there is Divine justice in the world, even if we don’t understand it or see it immediately. Sometimes, things seem so unfair that we ask: where is Hashem’s justice? Why isn’t Hashem helping me when He knows the truth? Hashem knew how hard I was working at my job, and yet I was getting pounded with exaggerations and people who were unbelievably callous. I just kept wondering how this was happening to me. But Hashem does know the truth and what goes around really does come around - the scales all balance in the end. You do what you’re supposed to do and throw the rest in Hashem’s Hands, because truly, Hashem is pulling all the strings.

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  1 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  Batya - Thanks for the inspiration!
Chava2/9/2009 9:47:17 AM

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