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Parshas Vayeilech - Who Will...? and Who Will...?   5 Tishrei 5779

09/14/18 08:25:05


The concept that everything for the coming year is determined on Rosh Hashana is part of our tradition. We recite the holy Tefillah of Unesaneh Tokef on Rosh Hashana and Yom HaKippurim. Despite the fact the decrees are written on Rosh Hashana and are sealed on Yom Kippur; we have one week in-between to change anything that is not favorable to us. Added to this equation is sustenance: there must be an overt effort made by the individual to earn a livelihood. One of the sources supporting the notion that a person’s livelihood is determined for the entire year is found in the Talmud.

The Gemara Beitzah states on 16a תני רב תחליפא אחוה דרבנאי חוזאה כל מזונותיו של אדם קצובים לו מראש השנה ועד יום הכפורים חוץ מהוצאת שבתות והוצאת יום טוב והוצאת בניו לתלמוד תורה שאם פחת פוחתין לו ואם הוסיף מוסיפין לו. ביצה טז. Rav Tachlifa, the brother of Ravnai of the house of Chozae, learned that the entire sustenance of man [for the year] is fixed for him from the New Year's [Festival] to the Day of Atonement, except the expenditure for Sabbaths and the expenditure for Festivals and the expenditure for the instruction of his children in the Law. If he spent less for any of these expenses, he is given less; if he spent more, he is given more. The Entire Sustenance of Man - All profits that he will earn this year to sustain himself - are fixed. Rashi comments on this passage as follows. כל מזונותיו של אדם - כל מה שעתיד להשתכר בשנה שיהא נזון משם קצוב לו כך וכך ישתכר בשנה זו ויש לו ליזהר מלעשות יציאה מרובה שלא יוסיפו לו שכר למזונות אלא מה שפסקו לו. חוץ מהוצאת שבתות - אותה לא פסקו לו מה ישתכר לצרכה ומהיכן תבואהו אלא לפי מה שרגיל ממציאים לו לשעה או לאחר שעה. פוחתין לו - כלומר ממציאין לו שכר מועט. : This is how much he will earn this year. And he must be cautious not to spend excessively because he will only be given what was fixed for him. Except for the expenditures of Shabbat - It was not determined what one will earn for those expenditures and where they will come from. Rather, one will be provided with whatever he is accustomed to over time. He is Given less - meaning, he will make less profit (Rashi).

This is one of the more difficult calculations a person tries to figure out every week. For Shabbos and Yom Tov a person needs to believe that he is really spending in honor of the day, not because he likes to eat. Perhaps an even more powerful message is that the amount of money spent on Jewish education is not calculated to be part of ones ‘annual income’; it is money that is spent from a different account that Hashem gives to a person. In other words, if a person believes that Hashem will pay the tuition bill, he need not worry where the money will come from for everything else needed in life. But if a person does not spend properly on those items, then God takes the money from the general account and not from the one that He sets aside for these matters. I had a recent experience whereby I came to realize how our sustenance is determined, even though we all tend to think we control it.

Many years ago while living in Charleston S. C., my son was given a check for his upsherenish (3rd birthday hair cutting ceremony). In my mind once you have the check, the money is in your pocket and my young son had a few dollars. I did not deposit the check right away. Tragically, the man who gave him the check was killed. It is forbidden to cash a check knowing that the person who gave it has passed away and that money was not to be had. But that was only an eighteen-dollar check. This past summer I was cleaning out the office in my house when I came across two checks - one for thirty-six dollars and the other for FIVE HUNDRED dollars. These checks somehow were not deposited either, but I couldn’t deposit them now because they were given to me eleven years ago! To be honest, I do not remember what the checks were for, but I do know who issued them. It would be awkward and foolish to go back to the people and ask them, ”Do you think you could write a new check because I neglected to deposit the first one?

This true short story has two sides: The first is the obvious one - I was not supposed to have the money from those checks. There are many ways for Hashem to arrange and orchestrate how much money we should have. Perhaps when we incur an extra expense or a fee that we were not anticipating is related to the fact we had extra funds which we did not use properly and Hashem easily chooses a way for us not to have it or use it. But the flip side is also true - the fact that I failed to deposit those checks meant that the accounts from where the money was to be drawn were never withdrawn. Therefore, the issuers of the checks had more money in their accounts then they thought they had. HaKadosh Baruch Hu is able to make sure that while one person has too much, he might lose some, and another who has too little will receive the money according to Hashem’s plan. Since a person did not spend his money on the right things such as Shabbos and tuition, he will lose out on extra money, while another person who spent properly and now needs money to pay his regular bills will have ‘found’ money in his bank account.

Money, Parnassa (livelihood) constitute the greatest tests we all go through. Sometimes we clearly see the hand of God directly involved, but sometimes when we don’t deserve the source of funds that are taken away. As far as my checks are concerned, at this point the money is irretrievable. The money is gone, but the lesson and evidence to a statement of Chazal in understanding how much money we receive is priceless!


Ah Gut Shabbos and Ah Gmar Chasima Tova

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Sun, May 24 2020 1 Sivan 5780