Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

24 Adar I 5760 - March 1, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by











Home and Family
Parnossa, Emuna and Living in Eretz Yisroel
by C. L.

Today I found out that my current job will soon be coming to an end. I wasn't particularly surprised and, oddly enough, not really upset either. I know that somehow, another job will come along. Living here in Eretz Yisroel, parnossa and emuna are totally intertwined. Without the security of a savings account, here we truly feel Hashem watching closely over us. Just like in the children's stories about the rich man who becomes poor overnight and vice versa, similar real life stories occur here all the time. Just a few months ago, our overdraft at the bank went so low that I thought at first glance that there was a mistake in the printout. Now we are almost up to the limit again and for the first time in over a year, have had to borrow from a gemach. But I have enough faith to believe that a few months from now, the wheel will reverse itself once again, b'ezras Hashem.

People living their comfortable materialistic lives in the Diaspora often wonder how large, poor families manange to survive here financially. To tell you the truth, I'm not quite sure myself. Yes, some of us do live very close to the brink, always in overdraft, constantly borrowing from gemachs or even accepting charity outright. And sometimes, a miracle happens. Just when it's needed most, money or a gift or an extra job will suddenly materialize in very mysterious ways. It happens to too many people and too many times to be a `coincidence.'

A friend of ours borrowed five thousand dollars to start a new business but it took off slowly. The time came for him to repay the loan but he had no idea how. Then, out of the blue [blue=sky=Heaven], he received a cheque in the mail from an old bank account he'd held twenty years ago in another city. He had totally forgotten about it and had moved several times since then, but somehow, the bank managed to track him down. The money plus the accumulated interest totaled exactly five thousand dollars!

Of course, we also have to be practical, finding ways to cut corners and being thrifty and realistic. We have to live very simply, buying basic food items at a discount supermarket, getting hand-me-down clothes from friends, relatives or the nearby clothing center. We put chicken instead of beef into the cholent and more beans & barley than potatoes, and still manage to invite a guest or two for Shabbos. We cut down, fix up and make do. When the handle of the challa knife falls off, it's not tossed out but glued back on. We don't dine in fancy restaurants, unless you consider an occasional take-out falafel `eating out.' Our summer vacation consists of a one-day bus trip to the beach. I don't own an electric clothes dryer but for most of the year, Hashem provides me with a beautiful free dryer - the bright blue Jerusalem sunlight. And because this is a Jewish country, the electric company understands that due to Pesach expenses, our payment will be in several installments, paid by post dated checks.

In order to live a simpler, more Torah-oriented lifestyle, with emphasis on learning rather than on materialism, we and our children have to give up certain things. Do we feel deprived or envious of others who have more? I don't think so. It helps of course, that so many of our friends and neighbors are in the same patched-up boat. But we have only to look at our gedolim as positive role models for us. The Chofetz Chaim bought his `furniture' on the installment plan - mitzvos to furnish his palace in the Next World.

"Why do I need expensive furniture here?" he asked. "I'm just a traveler passing through this world."

Chazal say that if one has enough food for that day, he should not worry about from where tomorrow's food will come. That is a lack of faith.

We have attended simchas here that were very modest affairs. What they lacked in luxury, they more than made up for in spirit. The bar-mitzva boy dancing with his friends in a hand-me-down suit [very quickly outgrown but in good condition], not necessarily from an older brother, or the glowing kalla in her borrowed finery were certainly no less joyful than their wealthy counterparts who were competing with the best that society was displaying that season.

We try to teach our children to appreciate the small things, and they do. Even a fruit yogurt is a treat, not a taken-for- granted daily item. Instinctively, they know they can share with others who have even less. When my children babysit or do occasional errands for money, they put their maaser into the tzedoka box without being reminded. When they pass a beggar on the street, they will put a coin in his cup. In return, they get a blessing and feel blessed and rewarded.

Poverty is simply a state of mind. We don't think of ourselves as poor. It's just that we don't have much money. In Torah and mitzvos, we feel quite rich, with a healthy balance in the Bank that Counts and gives Interest. We also have the privilege of living in Ir Hakodesh, fulfilling a most precious dream of our ancestors.

I recall a story I heard shortly before we made aliya. It concerned a successful rabbi who was leaving his affluent congregation to come to Eretz Yisroel. "You're giving so much up," said a wealthy congregant. "Do you at least have a job over there?"

"Yes, I do."

"Ah, then that's different. What kind of a job?"

"I don't know yet. Only Hashem knows the details."

A few months later, this rabbi was in Jerusalem, still trying to find a position. He made numerous phone calls, went to several interviews, but nothing came of them. Finally, he resigned himself to taking a job as a mashgiach in a bakery. Just before he began working, he got a call from a prestigious yeshiva where he had been interviewed. A position had suddenly become available.

Tomorrow I will begin making my inquiries about finding another job. But, as I said, I'm not really worried...


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.