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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Mesilas Yesharim’

People Eat for Free and They Work for Free

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov once revealed what he called a great secret – people eat for free and they work for free. He explained this with the following parable.

There was a wealthy man who was renowned for his hospitality. He would happily and generously provide all guests that came his way with the finest food, drink and lodgings, leaving them content and satisfied.

Not far from his home, lived another very wealthy person; a great miser who wouldn’t even give a slice of bread to the poor.

Once, a pauper who hadn’t eaten for a few days, heard about the wealthy donor with the compassionate heart, so he dragged his feet to his door to ask for a meal. But, as the saying goes, “poverty chases after the poor,” and instead of arriving at the door of the compassionate donor, the pauper erred and accidentally came to the home of the stingy miser. The poor man bowed before the landlord, lavishly praised him, and pleaded for a meal. The astonished miser realized that the pauper had made a mistake, and decided to take advantage of the situation.

“Of course, I’ll feed you!” he said, “But first I have some errands for you to do.” Following the man’s instructions, the pauper chopped wood, drew water, and did other difficult chores until he was utterly exhausted.

Finally, the miser said, “Okay, now it’s time for you to have your meal.” Pointing to the home of his compassionate neighbor, he said, “Just go there and someone will serve you.” The pauper didn’t realize that he’d been fooled. He thought that both houses belonged to the same owner and that it was the accepted, general custom to work in the first house before being served in the other.

As soon as he entered the second home, butlers greeted him, washed him, and brought him to a lavish table were many different foods and delicacies were served. They treated him like a nobleman.

As he was eating his meal, he moaned, “It’s true I had to work so hard first…but it was worth it!”

The curious master of the house asked him, “My good friend, you said you worked hard for this meal. For whom did you work? It wasn’t for me!”

The pauper told him that he’d worked at the neighboring mansion, and the kind philanthropist immediately understood what had happened. “My friend, I’m sorry to tell you, but you worked for free and you’re eating for free. Where you worked, you didn’t eat. And where you eat, you didn’t work!”

Rebbe Nachman said that the same thing occurs in regards to our livelihood. We work and we think that it is our work that is earning us our livelihood, but actually, our income comes from another source; it is a gift from Hashem. “Where we work we do not eat, and where we eat, we do not work.” This is a great secret of life. While it appears that our work provides our livelihood, it is really provided by Hashem.

Of course, while Hashem is our Provider, we are still obligated to do hishtadlus and to work for our livelihood. And while the hishtadlus doesn’t essentially support us, it does serve several other important purposes, as the holy sefarim explain.

The Mesilas Yesharim (21) writes: “…Man should theoretically be able to sit idly, and the livelihood that Hashem ordained for him should come to him effortlessly. However the Torah states, ‘By the sweat of your brow, you shall eat bread.’ This ‘curse’ [that mankind received after Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge] requires everyone to exert some form of effort, or hishtadlus for their livelihood. It has been decreed by the exalted King, and is a tax that all mankind must pay, which can never be evaded…”

The Chovas Halevovos (Sha’ar haBitochon 3) teaches us two other reasons why we must work: (1) To test our integrity, as the workplace constantly requires us to choose honesty or its opposite. (2) To make life more difficult. History has proven that in the generations where life was too “easy” and there was an abundance of easy comfort and pleasure, people began to forget Hashem. This is what happened to the generation of the flood (at the time of Noach) and other times as well. Therefore one must work for his livelihood, so life won’t be too easy, and we will remember our Creator.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

More Commentary On Bais Yaakov’s High School Education
(See Chronicles 12-23-11, 1-13-12, 2-17-12)

Fringe benefits of acquiring household management skills in school

Dear Rachel,

The letters on the typical Bais Yaakov high school education have prompted me to add my two cents worth. In regards to A proud husband of a BY graduate who is of the opinion that a girl learns how to create a Jewish home in her own home by her mom (and should not be expecting the school to fill in for the role of “mom”), I have to say that unfortunately this is not always so.

Some girls actually don’t have a mother, while others have moms who are either dysfunctional or so bogged down with large families that the kids pick up more in school than at home. Then there are instances of non-observant parents deciding to send their kids to yeshivas or Bais Yaakovs. I know of more than one set of parents who actually became observant through their children attending religious schools (often at the urging of an observant grandparent). These girls taught their parents the art of keeping a kosher home and honoring Shabbos.

Such cases are not as rare as one may believe. So, yes, the school can play a major role in a student’s life, and its influence should not be minimized.
An up-close observer

 

How to draw the fine line

Dear Rachel,
The letter regarding a Bais Yaakov education and subjects that would be considered as most beneficial for girls to learn hit a nerve. For years I have been torn about telling my daughters that they can be anything they strive to be. I feel that realistically they will, G-d willing, grow up to be wives and mothers. To tell them that they can be doctors or lawyers seems misleading and unrealistic. At the same time I get upset when girls are encouraged to be speech therapists or teachers, but never doctors or lawyers. There are definite advantages to encouraging a profession with flexible days and hours, but so many girls have such magnificent minds that it seems a shame to limit them.

I went to a co-ed yeshiva that encouraged all of their students to reach for the stars. So many went on to do just that. However, the friends in my circle were a little more “old school” and went on to become primarily wives and mothers. My sister went to a different co-ed yeshiva where the girls took a home economics class every week. I do not remember what the boys took instead, but every week the girls learned new recipes, sewing, and things that would be useful as a homemaker. At the time I thought it was ridiculous and archaic. Fast forward to present day when Baruch Hashem my sister and I are both wives and mothers, and I am not so sure anymore!

In theory, I think girls should be encouraged to peruse their dreams. In reality, the Jewish way of life has the mother at home raising the children. While certainly not impossible, as evidenced by the many fine female Jewish professionals, getting a medical, legal or business degree takes years, a very difficult undertaking with babies and young children at home. At the same time, it really irks me to hear people saying that mothers should use their education to teach their children.

So my quandary continues… I don’t know that I will ever have the answer. I guess I just want the choice to be there. As with everything else, I leave it in G-d’s hands.
A little flexibility may go a long way…

 

Life just isn’t what it used to be

Dear Proud Husband of a BY Grad,
Welcome to the 21st century, where – like it or not – a girl is not usually found by her mother’s side cleaning, baking bread, sewing linens, drawing water from the well or helping to care for younger sibs who are playing with sticks and mud.

Today two working parents is the norm; children (as young as 3) spend a good part of the day in school. Older kids often remain in school longer for “extra curricular activities” so that their parents aren’t forced to leave their jobs early, while other children come home to an empty house. (The luckier ones have a nanny or housekeeper awaiting them.)

Stay-at-home mothers who spend endless hours blogging and social networking, where they divulge and bemoan all sorts of personal life issues, is another phenomena of the 21st century. Even the more efficient mom gets to see her children only late in the day when they arrive home from school and are then overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of homework they are expected to complete.

I don’t suppose that in their limited spare time these girls would choose learning how to manage a household over other more fun activities. True, many “big sisters” help with the little ones and some Shabbos preparations, but there are many more aspects to being a wife than bathing babies and turning out a good potato kugel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-315/2012/03/01/

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