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
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
"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
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
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
"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...