Mrs. Raizy Guttman
We are up to the 6th blessing in the requests section. This is the last one in the section of requests for life today. The next blessings all refer to the world to come!
This is the Blessing of Livelihood.
The words that we say are "Bless us, G-d our G-d, this year" we’re asking G-d to bless us and it is interesting that we mention G-ds name twice! And also, why do we only ask G-d to bless us for this year only?
The answer is in the gemarah in Baitzah [16a] "the entire livelihood of a person is decided between rosh hashana and yom kippur. A righteous person has his livelihood decided on rosh hashana but a regular guy can tip the scales during the ten days of repentance. Since one’s livelihood is decided on Rosh Hashana, we ask for sustenance for just this year.
The success of one’s livelihood has nothing to do with one’s intelligence [Mishlei Proverbs, 9:11]
All livelihood is preordained by G-d! It has nothing to do with your efforts.
What is livelihood actually a result of? It is a result of your preordained destiny for your specific mission in life, and as a result of one’s merits, mainly one’s trust in G-d. When a person recognizes that everything is G-ds will will have a very strong influence on how he approaches his job.
It’s like being in the backseat of a car. There are some people who are backseat driving and even try to pretend like they are driving. But really they have nothing to do with it.
Hashem is in the drivers seat and we’re just coming along for the ride! The more we recognize that G-d is in full control, the more enjoyable the ride will be.
If our efforts are so insignificant why put in effort at all? Why not just pray all day? We know that all the good that G-d has for us is unlocked by just asking for it, so why do we have to put in any effort? If the power of a persons prayer is dependant on how much he completely trusts in G-d for his needs than actually going to work should weaken his prayers. One can "deduce" that the greater effort one puts into his work the less successful he will be!
The Path of the Just [Messilas Yeshorim] says that before Adam sinned there was no need for him to exert himself. But after he sinned, G-d changed the natural course of the world. A person now has to sweat a little to earn his living. Now that Adam sinned by showing a lack of trust in G-d he needs to work very hard to earn his bread.
The real test in livelihood is that one MUST make an effort and as he works and it seems like its his own wisdom, choices and intelligence that are making him rich. The test is to rise above it and recognize that its all actually Hashem.
Hashems hand is hidden in the world especially in terms of livelihood.
The evil inclination became inside of man when Adam sinned. And this started the fight of man kind. The burden of parnassa [livelihood] and all cause and effect in this world is just a veil which covers the source of everything, which is G-d. Our true task is to move aside this veil and recognize G-d.
~We must make an effort but know that its not your effort that provides the livelihood is the purpose of that effort!~
We have to pray to remember that our efforts are not the reason of our success. We ask for this message to be reinforced in us that we are solely in G-ds hands.
How much effort do you have to put in? The more trust you have in G-d the less effort he’ll feel like he has to put in. We have to raise ourselves up slowly to true trust in G-d.
G-d treats us like we treat Him! It says in Tehillim "Hashem Tzilcha" "G-d is your Shadow" If you put out a finger, G-d puts out a finger to you. If you put out a hand, G-d will put out a hand. The more we trust G-d the more He will help us.
We say "G-d is close to all who call on Him, all who call on Him in sincerity". R’ Lopian says that this means even someone who isn’t doing all the things that he should do but he calls out in sincerity? G-d will help him.
When we say "Bless us G-d, our G-d" we mention that He is OUR G-d because that is the most important part of making a living. We need to recognize that it is all dependant on G-d. Therefore we ask Him to please crown our efforts in success in the merit of our heartfelt prayers to Him and only to Him.
"Bless all the different types of crops for the good" We are asking for all different types of livelihood. Any type of business that a person is involved with for making a living, it should be for good. Why do we ask for it to be for good? Because many people make a lot of money and it ends up being their downfall!
The test of wealth is in many ways more difficult than the test of poverty.
And then we say "Send dew and rain for a blessing upon the face of the earth" We only say these words in the winter. We only ask for rain during the winter months. In Israel we start saying this on the seventh day of Cheshvan and in America we say it on December 5th. Why don’t we start saying this right after succos? Because all the people who came up to the temple for Succos need to get home and we didn’t want them to get stuck in the rain! The Rabbis decided therefore to start saying it on the 7th day of Cheshvan.
This is asking that G-d should bless the agricultural produce of the land. That’s why we say the "Face of the earth". This is asking G-d to feed all the hungry people of the world.
No matter how much power a person has he is powerless towards the produce of the land. If things stopped growing we wouldn’t be able to eat.
There are thousands of steps in the process of our food nowadays. Next time you drink a cup of coffee think of all the people who worked hard to produce that milk, sugar coffee beans etc. And thank Hashem for putting all those steps in place.
The next words are "Satiate us with Your goodness" We’re not asking for enough food to be full, but that we should be satisfied with G-ds goodness. We are asking to be satisfied with whatever G-d gives us. We ask to always be happy with whatever we have. This is the key to happiness in life!
Then we say "Bless our years like the good years". So it seems like we’re reminiscing about the ‘good ‘ol days’ . Rav Shwab says that this is referring to the future years when Moshiach will come and all of G-ds blessings will be upon us. Making a living is not supposed to be a curse!
The gemara tells us that earning a livelihood is as difficult as splitting the sea. [Just like finding a match!]. What was so difficult about splitting the sea? The same way G-d makes the sea stay together is the same way that He can split it. So what’s so difficult about it?
The test of splitting the sea was in the belief in the Jewish people! Where in the world was their salvation going to come from?! Where should they go? What should they do? They directed their prayers to G-d and all of a sudden the sea split! Of all things, that was probably the last thing they thought would happen. It was more likely that Pharoah would die or something else. But not that the sea will split!
Livelihood comes from the most unlikely sources. The difficulty in this is having trust in G-d. One never knows from where his livelihood will come from.
Sometimes we look at a situation and think that this is not what we need and then later on we realize it was exactly what we needed! We have no clue how all these things will play out. We just need a little bit of patience.
We end off this blessing with "Blessed are you G-d, who blesses the years" We ask that G-d should bless this year and all future years as well. Although our livelihood is determined on rosh hashana, the gemara gives us a great piece of advice to change our level of income. Repentance, prayer and charity can always change an evil decree.
Do you want to know how to increase your income?
The gemara says that all income is decided for him already. Except for how much you spend on Shabbos and on the Holidays and how much you spend on sending your children for a Jewish education. If one is stingy on this then G-d will give him less. And if he adds to it G-d will add onto his income!!
This is the last blessing of requests. In all of these requests we’re only asking for closeness to G-d.
King David says is Psalms "One thing I ask from You G-d!" [and we know that the 150 psalms are filled with tons of requests, but it all boils down to this one thing] "That I sit in the house of G-d all the days of my life" He is saying that no matter what he’s doing he wants to be close to G-d. And this is the purpose of life
May we all merit to sit always in G-ds house and to always feel the closeness of G-d.
You’ve got questions? She’s got answers!
Q: To what extent is it your free will and to what extent is it G-d?
A: That is the billion dollar question! The whole idea of effort is that OUR job is to do the best we can but at the same time you have to remember that its not because you’re doing the best you can that you are successful. The test of our trust is that we have to put in a lot of work and realize that its all from G-d anyway. There’s cause and effect in this world and G-d does this on purpose so that we can remove the veil and realize that it’s all G-d.
Q: So the purpose of this prayer is to mitigate last years prayer and bring us up to next years Yom Kippur?
Q: So any extra effort makes no difference? A: Meaning will working harder at something make your income increase? Nope. G-d decides already how much money you will make throughout the year. Your income is decided. So what are we praying for now? One of the Rabbis says that just like we pray for the rain to fall, it makes a difference where the rain falls. There’s a certain amount of rain that is sealed that will fall. The same thing with income, there’s a certain amount of money that will fall into your world this year. It makes a difference though how you will receive that money. How it will come to you.
Q: Is this prayer asking to change that decree? What are we actually asking G-d here?
A: The only way to add onto this decree is to show honor to G-d through Shabbos, Holidays and children’s Jewish education. These are all declaring that "I want to honor G-d"! In this blessing that we should be satisfied with whatever G-d gives us.
Q: What do the terms Bainoni, Rasha and Tzadik mean?
A: A tzadik is a righteous person, a bainoni is a middle person and a Rasha is an evil person. It is brought down in the gemara that the righteous person is one who has more good deeds than bad deeds, the evil one is one with more bad deeds than good deeds and a middle person has an equal amount. How could it be that most of the world is ‘middle’ people? Basically when we speak about our deeds going on the scales it doesn’t mean that our deeds actually get weighed on the scale…WE get weighed on the scale. Hashem sees how did our deeds effect me as a person? Was I just doing good deeds like a Jewish Robot? Or did it effect me and change me? Did a persons negative deeds take him away from G-d? A person can do one good deed and it will outweigh all the bad deeds! A righteous person is one that is close to G-d, a wicked person is one that is disconnected.
Q: How do you develop trust? How do you trust in G-d to such an extent that you KNOW that no matter how much effort I put in, G-d is still in charge?
A: There’s faith and then there’s trust. They are really to different levels of the same thing. The first level is emunah, faith. The basis of a Jew is believing that there’s a G-d and that He’s in charge. Its an intellectual understanding of G-d. Bitachon – trust is putting into practice the faith. Faith in practice is called trust. It’s about feeling that there’s a G-d and trusting that He’s taking care of you. You have to first start with the intellectual understanding of G-d. Praying is probably the number one way to instill in ourselves a belief. It’s about living with G-d. We say "I believe because I speak about it" from tehillim. King David tells us that if you want to build your belief, talk to G-d. Talk about G-d. And talk out loud so that your ears can hear it as well! The mouth is the organ that connects physicality and spirituality. Spirituality is part of what comes out of mouth. Words are spiritual. You can build and hurt so much through words. We use our lips – a physical organ – to express a spiritual energy – words. We speak about G-d and we speak to G-d and that helps us develop trust and belief in Him.