Monday, February 20, 2017

Keeping Shabbos

Rabbi Shalom Arush 

People often ask me what the difference between emuna and bitachon is. Whereas emuna is the pure and simple belief in Hashem, bitachon is "trusting Hashem", believing in Him completely when it comes to financial matters. Judaism's best teacher of bitachon is the Seventh Day, the Shabbat.

The Seventh Day rolls around each week and the store-owner asks himself, "What's gonna be? I won't have any income if I close my store today." The taxi driver asks himself the same question. Where will the day's income come from if he doesn't transport people that day?

The Torah says, "Sorry, Charley! You're not working today – it's Shabbat!"

But the store owner protests: "The mall is open today! Everybody's raking in money on Shabbat; I'll be the only one closed – that's not fair!" The cab driver has a similar complaint – Saturday's a great day for transporting people around (or so he thinks)…

The store owner and the cab driver must stop and ask themselves a few questions: Who sends them their customers? Who sends them their livelihood? Whose job is it to make a living?

Everyone needs to understand the following: It's not your job to make a living – that's Hashem's job. Until a person internalizes this fact, he hasn't yet taken his first step in emuna. It's our job to get close to Hashem and it's Hashem's job to send us our livelihood. Our job is to believe in Him and to do His will, which includes observing the sanctity of Shabbat.

But what happens? People get their roles mixed up. They say to Hashem, "Hashem, You make teshuva and I'll make a living." They think they're doing Hashem a favor; they think He can't manage without their help.

That sounds funny but it's really quite serious. How? Until a person realizes that it's not his job to make a living, he'll be entrenched in the lust for money and he'll violate all the mitzvoth of Torah in order to amass more money. Instead of enjoying the paradise of mitzvoth – and particularly the paradise of delighting in the Shabbat – he'll be stuck in the purgatory of chasing money. Even more, he'll never be satisfied.

As soon as a person's Shabbat is upside-down, all his concepts will be upside down too. Instead of loving Hashem like he's supposed to, he'll love money, Heaven forbid. Rebbe Nachman teaches that he can help anyone overcome any lust, except for the lust for money, for this is by far the strongest type of lust on earth.

Do you think money can help you? Our sages promise that he who observes the Shabbat will merit longevity. Can money do that? No, chasing it shortens a person's life. What's more, money can't buy health, for there are plenty of diseases that doctors and medicine have no cure for.

Once a person keeps the Shabbat and learns to trust that Hashem will give him his livelihood, he can begin to give charity wholeheartedly. Our sages promise that charity is also beneficial to longevity, for it saves a person from death.

When you're not worried about money, you can be forgiving about money; in other words, you won't be exacting or hold grudges if someone causes you to lose a dollar. This too is conducive to longevity. The Gemara tells us that Rabbi Nechunia ben Hakaneh's students asked him how he lived so long; he answered, "I wasn't a stickler with money – I'd give in to people."

A person who is a stickler with money is always stressed, anxious and anger-prone. He lives in constant fear that someone will rip him off. He trusts no one and his life is continuous suffering.

When you give in when it comes to monetary matters, you gain instead of losing. The Gemara promises that no one can take a cent that's destined for you. And, if someone dishonestly takes the money that you were supposed to use for doctors, you won't need the doctor, but they will! As such, King David said, "The wicked has many pains, but he who trusts in Hashem will be surrounded by loving-kindness" (Psalm 32:10). Our income comes from our level of trust in Hashem. It turns out that he who trusts in Hashem, observes the Sabbath and doesn't chase money has a much easier income than he who works on Shabbat, doesn't trust in Hashem and chases after money.

It turns out that Shabbat, trust in Hashem, charity and a forgiving, lenient nature in money matters all contribute to longevity. Furthermore, they're the elements that make life sweet as sugar too.